Pele is GNAC Player of the Year, Connell is GNAC Coach of the Year

Nov. 12, 2008

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University midfielder Matt Pele (Sr., Kennewick/Kamiakin) has been named the 2008 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year and the Vikings' Travis Connell was selected GNAC Coach of the Year as the league all-star team was announced today.

Pele led the Vikings to an 11-5-3 record and their first conference title since 2002 with a 7-1-0 mark. He was Western's top playmaker, finishing third in the GNAC in assists with six and also scoring three goals.

Connell, whose Vikings were unbeaten in their last seven games (6-0-1), now has a career record of 94-87-11 in 10 seasons. He has won three men's GNAC Coach of the Year awards, also claiming the honors in 2002 and 2007.

Connell also was selected as the 2008 GNAC women's Coach of the Year, the first time that the same coach has earned both honors in the same year.

Pele was one of three Western unanimous picks. The others were forward Gibson Bardsley (So., Fall City/Mount Si), who had seven goals and four assists, and defender Nick Saletto (Jr., Bellingham/Squalicum), who helped the Vikings to a 1.11 goals against average and post seven shutouts.

Bardsley, Pele, and Samir Vejo (Trebinje, Bosnia/Beaverton HS OR) were all repeat selections. Vejo led Western with 18 goals, 39 points and four game-winning goals.

In all, the Vikings had five first-team picks. Rounding out that group was goalkeeper Cameron Copps-Tilley (Jr., Vancouver/Fort Vancouver), who made 73 saves.

Three Western players were on the second team - defender Chris Jepson (Jr., Bellingham/Sehome), forward Michael Ricci (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) and midfielder Oliver Wellman (Sr., Bellevue/Sammamish).

GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors went to Saint Martin's Ruben Orozco, and Northwest Nazarene's Alex Mangeac was named Freshman of the Year.

GREAT NORTHWEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Men's Soccer: Pele Player-of-the-Year; Connell Top Coach

Western Washington midfielder Matt Pele has been selected the 2008 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men's Soccer Player-of-the-Year.

Pele, who received four of five first-place votes, led the Vikings to a 11-5-3 record and to their first conference title since 2002. He was WWU's top playmaker from his midfield position, finishing third in the GNAC in assists with six and also scoring three goals.

Travis Connell. who guided the Vikings to six wins and a tie in their final seven games and to a 7-1 conference record, was selected the GNAC Coach-of-the-Year. The 1996 Seattle Pacific graduate has a career record of 94-87-11 in 10 seasons with WWU. He has won three men's Coach-of-the-Year awards, also claiming the prize in 2002 and last year. He also won the women's GNAC Coach-of-the-Year award announced Tuesday.

In addition to Pele, two other players earned special awards. Midfielder Ruben Orozco of Saint Martin's and forward Alex Mangeac of Northwest Nazarene earned GNAC Newcomer and Freshman-of-the-Year honors, respectively.

Orozco, a sophomore from Des Moines, Wash., finished seventh in the conference in scoring with 17 points, scoring seven goals and earning three assists. Mangeac placed third in the conference scoring race with 28 points on 12 goals and four assists.

Pele and Orozco were among eight unanimous selections to the all-conference team. Also selected unanimously were forwards Sam Charles of Montana State Billings and Gibson Bardsley of Western Washington, midfielders Alec Nelson of Seattle Pacific and Alonso Avila of Northwest Nazarene and defenders Nick Saletto of Western Washington and Daniel Palermo of Saint Martin's

Five players - Pele, Charles, Bardsley, forward Samir Vejo of Western Washington and defender Justin Hoskins of MSUB - were first-team repeat selections from last year.

Western Washington dominated the selections with earning five first-team slots. Seattle Pacific, Saint Martin's and MSU Billings each placed two players on the first team and Northwest Nazarene had one.

2008 GREAT NORTHWEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE MEN'S SOCCER ALL-STAR TEAM

First Team

+*Sam Charles, Montana State Billings (F, 6-4, Jr., Chiswell, England) +*Gibson Bardsley, Western Washington (F, 5-11, So., Fall City, WA) *Samir Vejo, Western Washington (F, 5-10, Sr.,Trebinje, Bosnia) +*Matt Pele, Western Washington (M, 6-4, Sr., Kennewick, WA) +Alec Nelson, Seattle Pacific (M, 5-11, Jr., Lynnwood, WA) +Ruben Orozco, Saint Martin's (M, 5-10, So., Des Moines, WA) +Alonso Avila, Northwest Nazarene (M, 5-8, Jr., Yuma, AZ) +Nick Saletto, Western Washington (D, 6-4, Jr., Bellingham, WA) +Daniel Palermo, Saint Martin's (D, 5-9, Sr., Seattle, WA) Elliot Morton, Seattle Pacific (D, 6-4, Fr., Tacoma, WA) *Justin Hoskins, Montana State Billings (D, 5-11, Sr., Billings, MT) Cameron Copps-Tilley, Western Washington (GK, 6-1, Jr. , Vancouver, WA).

Second Team

Michael Ricci, Western Washington (F, 5-8, Jr., Bellevue, WA) Xan Nixon, Saint Martin's (F, 5-11, Fr., Seattle, WA) Alex Mangeac, Northwest Nazarene (F, 5-8, Fr., Nampa, ID) Drew Williams, Seattle Pacific (M, 5-7, Fr., Bend, OR) Oliver Wellman, Western Washington (M, 6-4, Sr.,, Bellevue, WA) Scott Dixon, Montana State Billings (M, 5-10, So., Weymouth, England) Brock Ogami, Northwest Nazarene (M, 5-8, So., Boise, ID) Colin Kosco, Seattle Pacific (D, 5-11, Sr., Edmonds, WA) Chris Jepson, Western Washington (D, 6-0, Jr., Bellingham, WA) Tom Milroy, Montana State Billings (D, 6-0, Jr., Aberdeen, England) Matt Mitchell, Montana State Billings (GK, 5-11, So., Thornton, CO)

Honorable Mention

Tyler Schultz, Seattle Pacific (F, 5-11, Fr., Scottsdale, AZ) Ryan Brand, Seattle Pacific (F, 5-10, Fr., Portland, OR) Ben Mangeac, Northwest Nazarene (F, 5-10, Fr., Nampa, ID) Vlad Voin, Saint Martin's (M, 5-10, So., Everett, WA) Jurell Linford, Montana State Billings (M, 6-0, Sr., Missoula, MT) Jose Oregon, Northwest Nazarene (D, 5-10, Fr., Nampa, ID) Tucker Maxwell, Saint Martin's (D, 5-10, Sr., Eagle, ID) Zac Lubin, Saint Martin's (GK, 6-5, So., Bozeman, MT).

Player-of-the-Year - Matt Pele, Western Washington. Newcomer-of-the-Year - Ruben Orozco, Saint Martin's. Freshman-of-the-Year - Alex Mangeac, Northwest Nazarene. Coach-of-the-Year - Travis Connell, Western Washington.

*Repeater +Unanimous

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