Rhode Island & Saint Louis Nab Major A-10 Men's Soccer Awards

By Atlantic 10 Conference
Courtesy: Rhode Island

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Saint Louis’ Anthony Manning has been named the Atlantic 10 Men’s Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, while his teammates Robert Kristo and David Graydon were named Offensive Player of the Year and Midfielder of the Year, respectively. Rhode Island’s Nils Leifhelm was tabbed as Rookie of the Year, while Rhody’s Gareth Elliott was named Coach of the Year.

The A-10 announced the awards Wednesday in advance of the 2014 Men’s Soccer Championship, which begins Thursday at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond, Va. and will be hosted by VCU.

Manning becomes just the second player to win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards since it was instituted in 2000. A defender from Mesquite, Texas, Manning was named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List earlier this year. In addition to being the top defender for Billikens, he is second on team in scoring (5G, 2A). Manning anchors a Billiken defense that is tied for first in A-10 in fewest goals allowed (14) and first with 11 shutouts.

A native of St. Louis, Kristo is SLU’s leading scorer with 11 goals. He also ranks second in the A-10 in goals (11) and points (23), and third in the A-10 with five game-winning goals. Named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List, Kristo is tied for third among all active NCAA Division I players with 90 career points (38G, 14A).

Graydon leads the Billikens and is tied for fifth in the A-10 in assists with four.  Four of his six assists have come on SLU game-winning goals. The junior from Kildare, Ireland, scored one goal during the regular season and it was the game-winner in a key non-conference win against Evansville.

Leifhelm helped lead Rhode Island to the top seed in this week’s A-10 Championship.  The goalkeeper from Münster, Germany, was named A-10 Rookie of the Week on four occasions this season. He currently ranks tops in the A-10 and ninth nationally with a .842 save percentage. Leifhelm is the only GK in the A-10 ranked in the top-five in both shutouts (2nd) and saves (2nd).

Elliott earns his first Coach of the Year honor in just his second season at the helm of his alma mater’s program. This season, the Rams went 7-1-0 for 21 points in league play to finish in first place, just a season removed from finishing winless against conference foes. The Rams are just the second team in league history to go from the bottom of the standings one year, to first place the next season. URI is the first program to finish first after having a winless campaign the prior season.

The Championship will kick off Thursday, Nov. 13 when Rhody and Dayton square off at 11:00 a.m. Mason and Davidson will tangle at 2:00 p.m., while Saint Louis and La Salle will play at 5:00 p.m. The host Rams will take on Fordham in the nightcap at 8:00 p.m.

The winner of the URI and UD match will take on the winner of the Patriots and Wildcats in Friday’s first semifinal at 5:00 p.m., while the two winners of SLU and La Salle and VCU and Fordham will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

After an off day on Saturday, the semifinal winners will clash at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday with the winner receiving the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

All seven matches can be seen live on the A-10 Network on Atlantic 10.com and on the A-10 mobile apps at no charge.

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