The Marshalltown Community College men's soccer team continues to bring in the hardware as the post season honors are awarded. After Saturday's Region XI Championship match, Head Coach Rafael Martinez was named co-coach of the year with Iowa Lakes' Ben MacRae. He was awarded this distinction after the Tigers were crowned the Region XI regular season champions earning them the top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is the second time he has earned this award.
Sophomore attacker Rafael Vacas was also awarded Region XI's top honor as the Conference Player of the Year. This is only the second year for this award within the ICCAC, and Vacas is Marshalltown's first recipient of the honor. Vacas, who leads the ICCAC in goals scored with 18 also scored the game winning goal in the championship game, propelling the Tigers to the District Championship. Both Coach of the Year and Player of the Year honors are voted on by the head coaches within the Region.
"It is very exciting for the MCC soccer program to have one of its players receive such an important recognition from the coaches of one of the top NJCAA regions in the country. On August 1st, the coaching staff spoke about the connection between team success and individual recognition. I believe, and many coaches seem to agree, that Rafael is one of the best players in the NJCAA, but his contribution would not be recognized as it is now, without the success that every member of this roster is making possible," Head Coach Rafael Martinez stated.
"Focusing now on Rafael, he has demonstrated great loyalty and trust in the coaching staff, the needed humility and work ethic to continue improving as a player and the positive leadership this group of student-athletes benefit from. To me, these intangibles are just as important as his statistics when considering his contribution to our program."
On Monday, All-Region XI teams were announced where the Tigers again had a strong representation on all three teams. Joining Vacas on the first team are fellow sophomores Rafael Ramos, Leonardo Tomasi, and Joel Serrano.
Ramos makes his second appearance of his career on the All-Region list, after making Second Team last year as a freshman defender for the Tigers. Ramos played both midfield and defender for MCC this season, making him a versatile asset to the defense. Tomasi, also part of the dominant defense is was a lockdown defender for the Tigers this year. The Tigers were the best defense in the league as the only team to hold opponents to an average of less that one goal per game in conference play (.90 goals allowed average). In addition to his defensive efforts, Tomasi is also tied for the team lead in assists with eight.
Rounding out the first team selections is goalkeeper Joel Serrano. Serrano was a wall for the Tigers, making 34 saves and having a goals against average of 0.61 for the season. He has 8 clean sheets so far this season on the way to helping the Tigers to 15 wins while he is in net.
Selected to the 2nd All-Region Team are sophomore Manoel dos Passos, and freshmen Kazuki Kimura, Gustavo Leal, and Matheus Pereira. Dos Passos is also an integral part of the stingy Tiger defense at center back. His work on the defensive line is a large reason why the defense is ranked 1st nationally with a 0.55 goals against average on the season. Kimura is having a stellar season in which he has tallied nine goals and eight assists, tying him for the team lead. One of the fastest members of the Tiger team, he is a constant long ball threat and provides an additional dimension to the high powered Tiger offense.
Leal has been a very consistent player on both sides of the ball in the midfield for the Tigers. He has showed a great ability to support on the defensive side and then turn changes in possession into offensive chances in transition. He has appeared in 18 matches this season for the Tigers, making 12 starts. Pereira, has also exhibited solid play in the midfield this season. He has appeared in every match this season, making 10 starts. He has helped create offensive opportunities with his strong outside shots. He also has six assists, most of them coming from outside of the 18.
Rounding out the All-Region selections are freshmen Aleix Viladot and Cesar Mont who received honorable mention nods. Viladot, who was called up to the Andorran National Team earlier this season, was the fourth member of the solid backline defense for the Tigers. His ability to lock down attackers helped limit shots on goal by the Tiger opponents. Mont, who has started 12 matches in the midfield this year, was another player who made significant contributions both offensively and defensively. Offensively, he has tallied six assists so far this season. Defensively he has been a calm and consistent presence in the midfield.