CCU’s Bennett on watch list; Uzo earns Big South honor

Coastal Carolina senior men’s soccer standout Ashton Bennett is one of 30 candidates selected nationwide for the 2012  Senior CLASS Award, Premier Sports Management announced Tuesday.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the annual award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, character, community and competition.

Bennett, a team captain, leads the exceptionally talented Chanticleer attacking unit with four goals and two assists this season. The Clarendon, Jamaica, native enjoyed one of the most memorable seasons in Coastal Carolina history in 2011 as he led the NCAA in goals (23), total points (53) and points per game (2.41).

The honor adds to a list of preseason accolades for the striker.  The senior was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, in addition to earning preseason All-American honors from College Soccer News and Preseason Attacking Player of the Year honors from the Big South Conference. The reigning Big South Attacking Player of the Year, Bennett led the Chants to an 18-4-0 record, including a perfect 9-0 conference mark and a NCAA Tournament second round appearance in 2011. For his efforts Bennett was named a NSCAA First Team All-American and was one of 12 finalists for the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy, the highest individual honor in collegiate soccer.

From the list of 30 candidates, 10 finalists will be selected midway through the regular season Those names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote among media, coaches and fans, who will select the candidate that best exemplifies excellence in the four categories of classroom, character, community and competition. The winner will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Men’s College Cup championship in early December.

* Coastal Carolina defender Uchenna Uzo has been named the Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week for games played Sept. 10-16, the league announced on Tuesday.

Uzo joins goalkeeper Scott Shewfelt as the second Chanticleer to earn Defensive Player of the Week honors this season and the third overall Chant to garner league recognition as Ashton Bennett was named the Attack Player of the Week for games played through Aug. 26.

Uzo, a sophomore from Lagos, Nigeria, led the Chanticleer defense that limited the high-powered Elon attack to only seven shots.  Uzo was charged with marking Elon’s Chris Thomas, a former All-American, and held the striker without a shot attempt.  His biggest defensive play came in the final minute as he saved a ball off the line to secure the 2-1 win. Uzo also added the game-winning goal in the 36th minute off a Coastal Carolina set piece.  The award is his first Big South Defensive Player of the Week nod this season.

Coastal returns to action on Wednesday, Sept. 19 in a Big South clash at rival Liberty. The Chants and Flames split last season’s pair of matches with Coastal taking a 3-1 win during the regular season and Liberty earning a 2-1 victory in the semifinal round of the Big South Tournament.

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