NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University men's soccer player Matteo Bennati (Genova, Italy) has been named the Horizon League Freshman of the Year and to the All-Freshman team, the league office announced Monday afternoon.
"We are excited that Matteo has been recognized by our league. It is a big award and well deserved. Most opponents focused a lot of effort on stopping him," said head coach Bryan Green.
Bennati had a breakout rookie campaign, having started all 16 matches and was a strong presence in the BU attacking third. The native of Genova, Italy finished the season with a team-high three goals and one assist for seven points. He was third on the team in minutes played with a total of 1,273. Bennati also led the team in shots (28), shots on goal (12), and game-winning goals (2).
Bennati scored a goal in consecutive games, helping the Bruins to secure victories over Georgia State and Milwaukee. He also scored in the Bruins historic 6-1 victory over Niagara.
"One of Matteo's great qualities is that he puts the team first. I'm sure he is honored to have been recognized but he has always been more concerned with our team's results and our team accomplishing our goals. I'm sure that will again be his focus next year, to do everything he can to help Belmont Soccer achieve its goals," said Green.
The Bruins finished their final season as an affiliate member of the Horizon League and fourth season under the guidance of Green with a 5-9-2 (2-7-0) record. The Bruins improved on their 2016 win total and scored more goals and allowed even fewer. The BU squad tied the program record set in 2004 for fewest goals allowed in a season (22).
Bennati is the third Bruin to receive Horizon League All-Freshman Team honors and the first to be named Horizon League Freshman of the Year.
Player of the Year – AJ Paterson, Wright State
Offensive Player of the Year – Audi Jepson, Green Bay
Defensive Player of the Year – Dan Bent, Wright State
Coach of the Year – Jeremy Bonomo, Green Bay
Goalkeeper of the Year – Jim Barkei, Northern Kentucky
Freshman of the Year – Matteo Bennati, Belmont
First Team All-League
Tyler Moorman, Detroit Mercy, R-Sr., F
Audi Jepson, Green Bay, Sr., F
Tomer Zloczower, Green Bay, So., M
Nick Moon, Milwaukee, Sr., F
Sean Reynolds, Milwaukee, Jr., D
Jim Barkei, N. Kentucky, Jr., GK
Austin Ricci, Oakland, Sr., M
Jesus Perez, UIC, So., M
Joel Leon, UIC, R-Sr., D
AJ Paterson, Wright State, Sr., M
Dan Bent, Wright State, Jr., D
Second Team All-League
Alec Nagucki, Cleveland State, Sr., M
Noah Pio, Cleveland State, Jr., M
Vlad Jandric, Cleveland State, So., M
Grant Harrison, Detroit Mercy, Jr., D
Spiro Pliakos, Detroit Mercy, Sr., F
Baran Huseini, Green Bay, Jr., D
Marcos Bautista, Green Bay, So., M
Vuk Latinovich, Milwaukee, Fr., M
Nyal Higgins, Oakland, So., D
Max Todd, UIC, Jr., F
Stefan Rokvic, Wright State, So., F
Sam DeRoy, Wright State, Sr., D
Joel Sundell, Wright State, So., GK
Matteo Bennati, Belmont, F
Thomas M'Barek, Cleveland State, D
Kyle Bandyk, Detroit Mercy, M/F
Adam Mansa, Green Bay, D
Freddy Lorenzen, Milwaukee, GK
Jake Kelderman, Milwaukee, D
Vuk Latinovich, Milwaukee, M
Harvey Moyes, Northern Kentucky, M
Noah Jensen, Oakland, M
Jacob Grabier, UIC, D
Peter Becht, UIC, F
Brayden McNitt, Wright State, M
Florian Hoffman, Wright State, D