CCU’s Bennett semifinalist for NCAA soccer’s top honor

Coastal Carolina junior Ashton Bennett is among 15 semifinalists for the 2011 Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy, the highest individual honor in intercollegiate soccer.

Bennett joins 2003 finalist and Coastal Carolina Sasser Hall of Fame member Joseph Ngwenya as the only two Big South Conference players to be named a semifinalist for the prestigious award.

Head coaches of NCAA Division I programs with current membership in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) will vote to determine the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy recipient. Three finalists for the award will be announced on Friday, Dec. 9. They will be invited to the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis for a news conference on Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, where the winner will be announced. A dinner and formal presentation of the award will follow the news conference that evening.

“I am really delighted and proud of Ashton for being named a Hermann Trophy semifinalist,” said head coach Shaun Docking. “This honor is a tribute to all of his and the team’s hard work in practice this season.

“Moreover, this national recognition shows what our high profile program, built by current and former players, can do for our student-athletes.”

Bennett proved to be the most dangerous striker in the nation as he tallied an NCAA-leading 23 goals, including nine game-winners.  The Big South Attacking Player of the Year finished the season ranked first in three offensive categories including total goals (23), total points (53.0) and points per game (2.41) as well as second in goals per game (1.05). Bennett also ranks 47th with seven assists on the year and 99th in assists per game (.32) nationally.

The Claredon, Jamaica native posted seven multi-goal games during the 2011 campaign, including hat tricks against Richmond and Liberty. He was named the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Player of the Week during the week of Oct. 24 in addition to being named to its National Team of the Week on three occasions. Bennett was also named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week twice this season. Additionally, was named the MVP of the Virginia Commonwealth and Coastal Carolina tournaments.

Bennett continued his outstanding play in the NCAA Tournament as he scored the deciding goal against Elon in the first round to help Coastal to the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2003.  Against top-seeded North Carolina in the second round, Bennett was involved in both of the Chants’ goals as he scored one and assisted on the other.

The MAC has honored the top player in collegiate soccer since 1986. Some of the biggest names in soccer, such as Mia Hamm and Claudio Reyna, have won the award. For a complete list of past winners, go to www.mac-hermann-trophy.org.

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