Sarkodie Named Soccer America's Player of the Year

Updated 12/24/2010
Story courtesy of Akron Athletic Communications

AKRON, Ohio - University of Akron junior defender Kofi Sarkodie was named Player of the Year by Soccer America Friday. It is the third consecutive season an Akron player has received the esteemed award from the national publication.

It is also the third significant recognition Sarkodie has received following the Zips' national championship season. The native of Huber Heights and Hermann Trophy semifinalist was named the 2010 ESPN Academic All-American of the Year as well as an NSCAA First Team All-American previously. Sarkodie follows Teal Bunbury (2009) and Steve Zakuani (2008) as the only players in school history to win player of the year honors from Soccer America.

As one of the most dynamic players in the country, Sarkodie recorded a career-high eight goals and six assists in 22 games from his outside back position.

In all, he finished with five game-winning goals, which was the second-highest total on the team. Sarkodie led the Zips to the national championship game with a header in the 74th minute to defeat Michigan in the NCAA semifinal (Dec. 10) after recording his first career hat trick against the Wolverines in a 7-1 rout during the regular season (Oct. 19).

Sarkodie also netted the decisive blow in a penalty-kick shootout against Cal in the NCAA quarterfinals (Dec. 4) to advance UA to the College Cup for the second consecutive year. Akron (22-1-2) captured the first team national championship in any sport with a 1-0 victory over Louisville in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Dec. 12.

Ampaipitakwong, Nagbe Also Recognized
Sarkodie was joined by senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong and junior striker Darlington Nagbe on the Soccer America's MVP First Team. UA's three honorees were the most by any school.

Ampaipitakwong is a two-time NSCAA All-American and became the school's first winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in 2010. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I men's soccer coaches, national soccer media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I men's soccer. The native of Carrollton, Texas, was named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team all four years at UA and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy in each of the last two seasons. Ampaipitakwong is the Zips' all-time leader for games played (93) and finished his career with 17 goals and 30 assists.

Nagbe, who is one of three finalists for the Hermann Trophy, is another two-time NSCAA All-American after earning first-team recognition in 2010. The native of Lakewood, Ohio, paced Akron's vaunted attack with a career-high 13 assists, which was ranked 10th among all Division players. Moreover, of his 13 assists, six set up game-winning goals, including helpers against Wake Forest (Sept. 3), Cal State Northridge (Sept. 17), Oakland (Oct. 6), Michigan (Oct. 19), Michigan State (Nov. 3) and West Virginia (Nov. 21).

Nagbe also netted a pair of game-winning goals himself with the decisive strike in a pair of big wins against No. 9 Creighton (Oct. 27) and Western Michigan (Nov. 14) in the MAC Tournament championship game. In all, Nagbe netted seven goals on the year while starting all 25 games up top for UA.

Soccer America's MVPs were introduced in 1976 and honor the players who have had the biggest impact on their team's success regardless of position.

Kitchen, Mattocks Garner Freshman Honors
Soccer America also named midfielder Perry Kitchen and striker Darren Mattocks to its All-Freshman First Team Friday. The Zips were the only school in the country to land two players on the first team.

Kitchen, who was recently called into the January U.S. U-20 national team camp, appeared in all 25 games as the Zips' starting defensive midfielder. The native of Indianapolis finished with six goals - including the game-winning strike against Cal State Northridge (Sept. 17) - and one assist in 2010. Kitchen was particularly dangerous in the postseason with beautiful, long-range goals against Cal in the NCAA quarterfinal (Dec. 4) and against Michigan at the College Cup (Dec. 10).

Mattocks developed into one of the most feared strikers in the country with a team-high 18 goals, which was tied for the third-highest total in the nation. The Jamaican native scored multiple goals in four contests in 2010 while netting his first hat trick in a 4-0 win over Buffalo (Oct. 16). Mattocks was the second highest scoring freshman in the country (Michigan's Soony Saad had 19) with a team-leading six game-winning goals. He also finished with five assists and was ranked 13th for points-per-game average nationally (1.64).