CLEVELAND (November 4) -- The University at Buffalo's Steve Butcher, a senior forward from North Tonawanda, N.Y., has been named the Mid-American Conference's Player of the Year by a vote of the league's head coaches. In addition, Torbjrn Birkeland, a sophomore forward from Bergen, Norway, and Byron Carmichael, a freshman forward from Lumberton, N.J., were named the league's Newcomers of the Year. Also, Ian Collins, head coach at the University of Kentucky, was named the Gary V. Palmisano Coach of the Year.
The University of Akron, the 12th ranked squad in the country, highlights the all-conference list with four first-team selections and two second-team choices, while Kentucky, which finished second to the Zips in the regular season, placed three student-athletes on the first-team and a fourth Wildcat garnered second-team accolades.
Butcher, one of two repeat selections to the first-team all-MAC squad from 1998, led the conference in scoring during the regular season with 36 points on 14 goals and eight assists. His goal total tied for tops in the league, while his assists per game average (0.47) is tied for third in the conference. The senior concluded the regular season with a goal in each of his last three contests and seven of his last eight.
Birkeland paced the Zips in scoring in his first year with the team with 21 points on seven goals and seven assists. His 1.31 points per game is fifth in the league heading into the MAC Men's Soccer Tournament, while his goals per game (0.46) is fifth and is sixth in assists per game (0.44) in the conference.
Carmichael, like Birkleland, also led his squad in scoring with 20 points and delivered nine goals, which is fourth in the league. The freshman helped the Thundering Herd to a fourth-place finish during the regular season after being slated to finish sixth in the preseason.
For the second time in the last three years, Kentucky's Ian Collins is named the Gary V. Palmisano MAC's Coach of the Year. Collins guided the Wildcats, which were picked to finish third in the MAC preseason poll, to a 10-6-1 overall record and a 5-1-1 mark in league play. UK finished second to Akron during the regular season.
Joining Butcher on the first team are Kyle Milligan (GK), Greg Prusha (D), rjan Bjnes (MF) and Birkeland of Akron, and Ilkka Jantti (MF), Giovanni Fernandes (MF) and Lee Baker (F), who was a repeat first-team all-MAC selection from 1998, of Kentucky. Also capturing first-team accolades are Fred Degand (D) and Chris Dore of Bowling Green, and Eastern Michigan's Jeff Beeler (MF).
On the MAC's second-team unit are: Eric Pogue (GK) of Western Michigan, Todd Stonestreet (D) of Kentucky, Wayne Bennett (D) of Marshall, Peter Agrimson (D), Andrew Conti (MF) and Dan Parisi (F) of Northern Illinois, Frank Ross (MF) and Christer Larsen (F) of Akron, Brian McCallion (MF) and Tim Songer (F) of Buffalo and Drew Drummond (MF) of Eastern Michigan.
Akron is the top seed in the MAC Tournament, which begins Friday, Nov. 5 in DeKalb, Ill.. with quarterfinal action. The semifinals are slated for Sunday, Nov. 7, with the championship match to be played the following weekend at the home field of the highest remaining seed.
Pos. Player School Year Hometown (High School)
Goalkeeper Kyle Milligan Akron So. Independence, Ohio (Hudson)
Defense Greg Prusha Akron Jr. North Olmsted, Ohio (North Olmsted)
Defense Fred Degand Bowling Green Jr. Highland Park, Ill. (Deerfield)
Defense Jeff Beeler Eastern Michigan So. Birmingham, Mich. (Brother Rice)
Midfield rjan Bjnes Akron So. Bergen, Norway (Fana Gymnas)
Midfield Chris Dore Bowling Green Sr. Vermillion, Ohio (Lorain Catholic)
Midfield Ilkka Jantti Kentucky So. Lahti, Finland (Salpausselan Lakota)
Midfield Giovanni Fernandes Kentucky Jr. Criciuma, Brazil (Adidas Academy)
Forward Torbjrn Birkeland Akron So. Bergen, Norway (Laksevaag Gymnas)
Forward Steve Butcher# Buffalo Sr. North Tonawanda, N.Y. (North Tonawanda)
Forward Lee Baker# Kentucky Sr. Spring, Texas (Klein)
#repeat first-team all-MAC from 1998
Pos. Player School Year Hometown (High School)
Goalkeeper Eric Pogue Western Michigan Sr. Troy, Mich. (Athens)
Defense Todd Stonestreet Kentucky Sr. Canton, Mich. (Plymouth Canton)
Defense Wayne Bennett Marshall So. Boksburg, South Africa (Jeppe)
Defense Peter Agrimson Northern Illinois Fr. Stillwater, Minn. (Stillwater Area)
Midfield Frank Ross Akron Sr. Johanessburg, South Africa (West Ridge)
Midfield Brian McCallion Buffalo Jr. Ballston Spa, N.Y. (Shenendehowa)
Midfield Drew Drummond Eastern Michigan Sr. Canton, Mich. (Plymouth Salem)
Midfield Andrew Conti Northern Illinois Fr. Woodbridge, Ontario (Holy Cross)
Forward Christer Larsen Akron Jr. Bergen, Norway (U. Pihl Gymnas)
Forward Tim Songer Buffalo Jr. Liverpool, N.Y. (Liverpool)
Forward Dan Parisi Northern Illinois Jr. Hanover Park, Ill. (Hoffman Estates)
GARY V. PALMISANO COACH OF THE YEAR:
Ian Collins, Kentucky
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Steve Butcher, Buffalo
NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR:
Torbjrn Birkeland, Akron
Byron Carmichael, Marshall