Soares Named Pac-10 Player of the Year in Bears' Title Run

Photo: Senior A.J. Soares also posted solid offensive numbers this season, including a career-high 11 points and five goals en route to his Pac-10 Player of the Year nod. Starting in all but one game, the co-captain was joined by four teammates on the conference First Team.
Michael Kang/File
Senior A.J. Soares also posted solid offensive numbers this season, including a career-high 11 points and five goals en route to his Pac-10 Player of the Year nod. Starting in all but one game, the co-captain was joined by four teammates on the conference First Team.

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Conference play is over for the Cal men's soccer team.

The Bears (12-2-3, 8-1-1 in the Pac-10) are back in the postseason, with the sixth seed in the NCAA tournament and a Pac-10 title.

Along with the Pac-10 trophy, the Bears garnered six All-Pac-10 team spots, Coach of the Year and Player of the Year.

Part of the forward movement has come from senior A.J. Soares, the anchor in Cal's stingy back line unit that allowed only 13 goals over the 17 games this season.

The 170-pound defender earned the distinction of Pac-10 Player of the Year, his third all-Pac-10 honor over the course of his illustrious collegiate career.

"It is an honor to be in the category with the other players who have won it in the past," the Solano Beach, Calif. native said.

"It means our team has been successful thus far - that we have performed at the highest potential every game."

When it comes to post-college plans, professional soccer is not the only thing on his mind.

"My plan is, to wherever I move, to find the best cafe and to drink all the coffee I can," he said.

For Soares, the award was really a reflection on his coach.

"He came into the program as a very good player," Grimes said of his co-captain. "Our goal is to improve on the already God-given talent. Our hope is to do everything we can to make him the best player that he can be."

Along with Soares, David Bingham, Servando Carrasco, Hector Jimenez and Davis Paul represent Cal on the all-conference team.

Paul set a program single-season assist record with the 13 he collected this year. This broke previous holder Peter Woodring's 12 during his tenure from 1986-1990.

Paul led the Pac-10 in scoring with 27 points, finishing six points ahead of second-place finisher Brent Richards of Washington.

Arguably one of the best play-makers in the history of the program, Jimenez ranks second in the record books with 27 career assists. Paul is close behind him, with 20 to rank fourth for all-time.

As a team, the Bears have 43 assists, one away from tying the program record.

Not only are the players putting their names in the books, but head coach Kevin Grimes is as well.

This year marks Grimes' 11th season at the helm of the Bears' program. In 2010, he earned an unprecedented fifth Pac-10 Coach of the Year title. Grimes is the first coach in the conference to earn the honors more than once.

"Soccer is a player's game," Grimes said. "(The award) is really a tribute to the players and the assistant coaches. It is a collective effort."

According to him, the team is moving closer to reaching the targeted effort that the squad has been striving for throughout this year.

The five players named to the first team all-conference squad are the most of any other Pac-10 school. The recognition completes Cal's transformation from last place in the conference last season to first place this year.

With the exception of Bingham, Soares, Paul, Carrasco and Jimenez are all in their final year of eligibility. All five are being scouted by professional teams from both the United States and overseas.

Tags: CAL MEN'S SOCCER


Kelly Suckow covers men's soccer. Contact her aat [email protected]



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