Bennett among 15 finalists for national Hermann honor

For the second straight year Coastal Carolina forward Ashton Bennett is among the 15 semifinalists for the prestigious Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy, as announced by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) on Wednesday.

Bennett is the only repeat selection as a semifinalist after the senior was on the initial preseason Watch List. The MAC Hermann Trophy is regarded as the highest individual award in college soccer.

Head coaches of NCAA Division I programs with current membership in the NSCAA will vote to determine the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy recipient. Three finalists for the award will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 6. They will be invited to the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis for a news conference on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, where the winner will be announced. A dinner and formal presentation of the award will follow the news conference that evening.

Bennett, who finished as a semifinalist for the award last season, joins former Coastal great Joseph Ngwenya as the only two Chanticleer or Big South student-athletes to earn semifinalist recognition in multiple seasons.

After leading the nation with 23 goals last season, Bennett proved again that his is one of the most lethal goal scorers in all of college soccer as he found the back of the net 16 times this season. The Clarendon, Jamaica, native finished the season ranked fourth in the NCAA in points (41), fifth in goals (16), 13th in points per game (1.64), 19th in assists (9) and 23rd in goals per game (0.64).

Bennett was bestowed numerous honors and awards as he led the Chanticleers to a 20-3-2 record, including a perfect 10-0-0 mark in conference play, and NCAA Tournament Round of 16 appearance. Heading into the season he was named the Big South’s Preseason Attacking Player of the Year and earned Preseason All-American recognition from College Soccer News and Soccer Times.

For his efforts on the pitch during the season, Bennett was tabbed to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week twice (Aug. 27 and Oct. 15) and the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week once (Oct. 15). He was also garnered a pair of Big South Attacking Player of the Week plaudits (Aug. 27 and Oct. 16).

Bennett was also named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, which celebrates loyalty and achievement for staying in school. The Senior CLASS 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.

The speedy forward, who is projected by many to be a top 10 pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, was named the Big South Attacking Player of the Year by the league’s coaches for the second consecutive season. He also picked up his second first team all-conference honor and was tabbed to the league’s all-tournament team.

Bennett tallied five multi-goal games on the season, including three straight from Oct. 6-13. Of his 16 goals, four proved to be the game winner, while five others were game-tying goals. He notched a trio of goals in postseason play, including a rocket of a shot against second-ranked Maryland in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16.

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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