NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University men's soccer player Creaghan Diekema is the picture of a hard worker. Diekema was recently recognized for his contributions to the Belmont athletics program by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as November's recipient of the Belmont GRIT Award on Monday.
"Practice, the weight room, or games, whether things are going well or poorly, Creaghan is always giving 100 percent," said Head Coach Bryan Green.
Diekema, a sophomore from Grand Rapids, Michigan was a key member of the 2017 men's soccer squad. He added a goal and an assist in the historic 6-1 victory over Niagara in August. The team's six goal performance tied the Belmont record for the most goals scored against a NCAA Division I opponent. Diekema also led the Belmont team with two assists on the season, recording his second at Evansville in October. He also recorded his second goal of the season in the match.
The 2017 men’s Division I college season ended the same way the past two seasons concluded: with Stanford sitting on top.
It’s no surprise to see the Cardinal ever-present in the 2017 TopDrawerSoccer.com Postseason awards as a result.
That starts with this year’s Player of the Year award, as center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce captures this year’s award. Eclipsing a talented field that includes Jon Bakero (Wake Forest), Chris Mueller (Wisconsin) and Cameron Lindley (Wake Forest), Hilliard-Arce’s college career ended with a third straight national title. The central defender, who also earned the Pac-12’s Defender of the Year honor, led a defense that conceded nine goals in 23 games. He scored four times, including the game-winning tally in the NCAA Quarterfinal against Wake Forest, though his ability to read the game and make crucial interventions separates himself as the best player in college soccer.
Another central defender picks up Freshman of the Year honors. Akron defender Joao Moutinho earned the nod, pipping a tight race that featured American talent like Mason Toye (Indiana), Brandon Servania (Wake Forest) and Manny Perez (NC State). An international recruit from Portugal, Moutinho was stellar after winning a starting job as a center back. Forming a partnership with Daniel Strachan, Moutinho played 2,160 minutes, starting 24 games for the semifinalists. He also chipped in three goals and five assists, playing four games in the midfield. The 6-foot, 160-pound defender’s ability to cope with the size and physicality of the best attackers in college soccer was notable.
Securing the first-ever men’s Coach of the Year award is Stanford’s Jeremy Gunn. Now a three-time national champion, Gunn orchestrated yet another title triumph, finishing the 2017 season with a 19-2-2 record. Gunn and the rest of the coaching staff had the game plan to beat three of the best teams in college soccer during the last three games of the NCAA Tournament, besting Wake Forest, Akron and Indiana – three loaded programs.
Check out the complete TopDrawerSoccer.com Postseason Awards below for the Men’s Division I season.
Coach of the Year: Jeremy Gunn, Stanford
TopDrawerSoccer.com Best XI Teams
Freshman Best XI Teams
I would like to thank many of you for taking part in this year’s build a snowman contest. Because there were so many good, creative snowman, it took a little longer then expected to decide on a winner. For the winners of the event, you may collect your prize next Wednesday night (December 20th) at Schoolcraft College. Please find me (Coach Scott Duhl) and I’ll have an envelope for the winners!
Lastly, thanks to all the coaches who donated and helped to raise $240 towards prize money for our contestants!
1st place - Alyssa and Kayla Rankin.
2nd place - Christopher and Daniel Kou
3rd place (3 way tie) Allison Ernst, Kennedy Thurlow, Hailey and Taylor Hartwig