AZUSA, Calif. -- The Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team had 5 players receive post-season honors, led by junior forward Vinicius Dantas’ selection to the 2010 NAIA All-American second team. Dantas also received his second All-Golden State Athletic Conference honor after leading the GSAC with 39 points. He scored 15 goals and registered 9 assists on the season, ranking second in the league in each of those categories.
Dantas also led the Cougars in game-winning goals with 6, and he scored at least 1 goal in 12 of the 22 games he appeared in. Dantas scored 2 goals 3 separate times, including back-to-back non-conference wins over Holy Names and La Verne at the Westmont College Heritage Club Classic. He scored the game-winner in both Azusa Pacific wins over Hope International, and he registered the assist on the Cougars’ lone goal in a 2-1 overtime defeat to Vanguard in the NAIA Tournament Opening Round.
Joining Dantas with All-GSAC honors were senior midfielders Ashkon Banihashemi and Brett Taylor, as well as junior defender Lucas Young. Banihashemi, from Torrance, Calif., helped anchor the midfield for the Cougars and posted 3 goals and 3 assists on the season. He had 1 game-winning goal, scoring the opening goal on his senior day in a 4-0 win over Fresno Pacific.
Banihashemi, along with sophomore goalkeeper Joe Geletko, was also named a 2010 Daktronics-NAIA Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete. In order to be nominated, a student-athlete must achieve junior academic status and maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Banihashemi, a biology major, also earned recognition for his academic efforts with ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District second team honors.
Taylor, a native of Westlake Village, Calif., received his second consecutive All-GSAC honor. He started 20 games for the Cougars, scoring 6 goals and assisting 7. His 19 points and 7 assists both ranked second on the team behind Dantas, and he was No. 3 on the squad in scoring. Taylor entered Azusa Pacific’s record books when he tied the program’s single-game assist record by assisting all 3 goals in a 3-0 win over Hope International.
Young, a 6-foot-4 junior from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, anchored the defense as a center back in his second season at Azusa Pacific, gaining him his first All-GSAC honor. He scored his first Cougar goal, a game-winner, in a 3-0 victory over Embry-Riddle (Ariz.). Young also recorded an assist, setting up 1 of 6 scores in a 6-1 non-conference win over Holy Names.
Azusa Pacific finished the season with a 16-5-1 record and returned to the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship for the first time since claiming the 2007 national title.