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Five Cougars Receive PacWest Honors

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Nate Nugen was named a first-team All-PacWest defender in his first season at Azusa Pacific.

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Published
November 22, 2013
By
Chris Baker

AZUSA, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team, which finished the Pacific West Conference season tied atop the standings at 10-2, had five players named to the All-PacWest team, the conference office announced Friday.

Senior forward Oktay Bulut and sophomore defender Nate Nugen each received first-team accolades, while senior midfielder Trenton Titus and senior defender Jamarko Washington were named to the second team. Sophomore forward Keenan Armbrust rounded out the all-conference recipients, receiving honorable mention recognition.

“It’s a great recognition for the team. We had an outstanding season, and to have five players represent the program and their teammates is quite an honor,” said head coach Dave Blomquist.

Bulut earned his second consecutive first-team All-PacWest honor after ranking fifth in the league in goals (10), and tied for ninth in points (22). The senior from Russelsheim, Germany converted all five of his penalty kicks, and put 60 percent of his shots on goal, the team’s highest mark among players with at least 30 shots.

“Oktay is our best playmaker. He does so much for the team in the attack. What he does in our possession style of play, and how he reads the game is fantastic. He is one of our best leaders and he’s had a great career with us,” said Blomquist.

Nugen started in all 19 appearances in his first season with the program, helping the Cougars post eight shutouts. The lockdown defender from Citrus Heights helped Azusa Pacific finish second in the PacWest in goals-against-average (0.99) during the regular season, and led a backline that tied for the conference lead in shutouts.

“Nate did a fantastic job stepping in as a first year player for us. He gave everything he had. Nate is one of the most competitive guys on the team, which is one of the reasons why he’s a great defender. He has a lot of quality with what he does on the ball and he has most of the qualities you look for in a center back,” said Blomquist.

Washington had his most productive season with the program, starting all 20 matches at center back for one of the league’s top defenses. His consistent play led to a significant improvement in the team’s goals-against-average from 2012, dropping it from 1.73 to 0.99 during his senior campaign.

“Jamarko’s improvement over his career has been outstanding. He’s changed positions a few times, and to step into his role this year, and start every game and be an unbelievably solid defender is something you can’t say enough about. He’s shown great work rate and leadership during his time at Azusa Pacific,” said Blomquist.

After missing the 2012 season due to injuries, Titus returned to form in his final year. The senior from Chino Hills tallied three assists and two goals, each of which were game-winners. The 2011 All-GSAC midfielder battled through injuries during his senior year, and started in 15 of the 17 matches he appeared in.

“Trenton is the engine of the team. As a center mid and two-way player, he holds so much of what we do together attacking and defending. Coming off of missing a season and have some injuries throughout the course of this year, for him to play at the level he did through all of that is impressive. I’m not sure how he does it. There were days where he wasn’t able to train, but when game day rolled around he was one of the best players on the field. He’ll be missed a ton,” said Blomquist.

Armbrust had a knack for coming up big in the clutch. The sophomore had a team-high four game-winning goals, and finished with eight scores on the season. He added one assist, and placed 20 of his 42 shots on target to help the Cougars finish with the second most goals (37) in the conference.

“He continued to develop as a dangerous attacking player. He’s a player that can strike at any time. He has the ability to come up big in the biggest moments. He not only started his college career well, but has a very bright future for us,” said Blomquist.

Azusa Pacific’s five PacWest nods ranked behind Fresno Pacific and California Baptist, which each had seven honorees. BYU-Hawaii also had five players named to the All-PacWest team.

CBU’s Alex Anderson was named the PacWest Player of the Year, and Fresno Pacific’s Jaime Ramirez and BYU-Hawaii’s Mark Davis shared Coach of the Year honors.

For the complete All-PacWest team Click Here (PDF).