Cruz, Sanchez Named Best Of The MPSF
Nov. 26, 2007
LAS VEGAS - Forward Daniel Cruz of UNLV was named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Men's Soccer Newcomer of the Year while second-year head coach Mario Sanchez was selected as the Co-Coach of the Year, the league announced on Monday. The MPSF also announced its all-conference teams, and four Rebels were selected, including two on the first team.
Cruz, a freshman from Glendale, Ariz., was perhaps the biggest addition to a team's offense in the MPSF in years, as his impressive scoring ability instantly enhanced UNLV's overall offense. Having scored 11 points in the five-game stretch immediately prior to the start of league play off four goals and three assists, he became the main target of the MPSF's defenses and was constantly double-teamed. That simply opened up more opportunities for the other UNLV forwards, mostly Lamar Neagle, who was able to take advantage of the constant attention to Cruz by scoring nine goals, which tied for second in the MPSF. Cruz still finished the year with four goals (which ranked ninth), and four assists (third) to finish sixth in the MPSF with 12 points. He scored the game-winner against Missouri State in a 1-0 win on Sept. 22, had three points (goal and assist) in a win over regionally ranked Cal Poly (Sept. 14), and assisted on both goals in the final 10 minutes of a 2-2 double-overtime tie with Drake (Sept. 21).
Sanchez, in his second year at the helm of the Rebels, guided his squad to its best season since 2002 (12-8), as UNLV finished with a 7-10-2 mark. Even more impressive was the six-game win improvement from last season, when UNLV finished with a 1-15-2 mark. The Rebels were greatly improved on defense, allowing just 28 goals while their 1.41 GAA ranked third in the league. UNLV also posted a 2-1 overtime victory over 21st-ranked New Mexico on Nov. 3 in Las Vegas, and had a win over regionally ranked Cal Poly (4-3) on its resume, while seven of its losses were by just one goal.
Cruz was also named to the All-MPSF first team, along with Neagle, a junior forward who posted a career-high nine goals and also added two assists for 20 total points, which ranked him third in the league. He had two game-winners on the year, against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 9 in a 2-1 win, and in double-overtime with a golden goal against Air Force (Oct. 5) in a 1-0 victory. One of his biggest games was against Drake, when he scored twice in the final 10 minutes to help the Rebels earn a 2-2 tie (Sept. 21). He scored the first goal in UNLV's 2-1 overtime upset of No. 21 New Mexico (Oct. 3).
Also earning league honors this season was sophomore defender Andrew Friel of Las Vegas, who was named to the All-MPSF second team, while senior defender Mason Trafford of Vancouver, British Columbia was honorable mention.