BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer It’s been a good couple of weeks for Monmouth University (MU) soccer teams. Just one week after the MU women’s soccer team captured its second Northeast Conference Tournament title in the last three years, the Monmouth men’s team made it a sweep on Sunday, defeating Quinnipiac University (QU), 2-1, to claim its third NEC title. The top-seeded Hawks got goals from Chase Barbieri (of Hillsborough) and Ryan Kinne (of Naugatuck, Conn.) less than two minutes apart from each other to take a 2-0 lead early in the second half, and then held on for the win, and the title. Following the game, head coach Robert Mc- Court reflected on his team’s tremendous play throughout what has been a record-setting 18-1-1 season. “I am so proud of these young men,” said the recently named NEC Coach of the Year. “These guys have remained focused all season and got the just reward today. Their commitment on and off the field has been wonderful. QU is a very talented team and it was a great game for the fans to watch; two teams trying to play the game the right way. It can only be good for college soccer.” With the victory, the Hawks will move on to the 2009 NCAA Men’s College Cup, where they will look to add to their program-record-setting win total. Sunday’s game on the Great Lawn in West Long Branch was befitting of a championship game. After a scoreless first half, Monmouth took the lead in the 51st minute, when Freehold’s Ryan Clark floated a cross from the left side that Barbieri headed into the net for the 1-0 lead. Then, in the 54th minute, Monmouth was awarded a free kick and capitalized. This time it was NEC Tournament Most Valuable Player R.J. Allen (of Old Bridge) doing the table setting, as he lofted a perfect cross into the box, where Kinne was waiting to head the ball past Quinnipiac goaltender Frederick Hill. Kinne’s tally was the team-leading 10th of the season for the 2009 NEC Player of the Year, while Allen’s assist was his eighth, to tie for first in the league. The Bobcats cut the lead to one just over six minutes later, but Monmouth was able to hold on from there to secure the title. Keeper Bryan Meredith (of Scotch Plains) made four saves in the game. Monmouth advanced to the final by knocking off fourth-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday, 2- 0, as freshman Cody Calafiore (of Howell) scored both goals. Fans of Shore Conference soccer are quite familiar with Calafiore’s big-play ability, but his performance on Friday certainly marked his arrival on the collegiate soccer scene. MU’s first goal came just over three minutes into the second half, when Calafiore headed home a cross from sophomore George Caiella (on Pittstown). Then, in the 88th minute, Caiella launched a deep ball out of the Monmouth end of the field that found Calafiore racing down the right side. The freshman then leapt over a defender and beat FDU keeper Maidi Zaineh to the near post. Calafiore’s two goals were his second and third of the season, while Caiella’s two assists were his first of the year. The tandem certainly picked an opportune time to becoming a scoring juggernaut. The Monmouth defense was just as stellar, holding the FDU offense in check to record its program-record 14th save of the year. Meredith made three saves in net to record his 13th shutout. Following the game, McCourt pointed out that Monmouth played well, but didn’t necessarily capitalize on all of its chances. “I was happy with the overall performance again today,” the coach said. “Their keeper made some spectacular saves today to keep them in it, and I thought it was a justified result.” The NEC championship marked the end of a weekend filled with honors for the MU men’s program. This year’s Hawks team received a number of individual honors for its regular-season dominance, led McCourt’s Coach of the Year and Kinne’s Player of the Year honors. Daniel Bostick (of Nottingham, England) was also recognized as the Defensive Player of the Year, while a program-record six MU players were named to the all-league first team. In addition to Kinne and Bostick, Clark, Meredith, Allen and junior midfielder Max Hamilton (of Medford) were all named First Team All NEC. “I could not be more proud of this group of men,” said McCourt, who won his fourth Coach of the Year award in six years. “From the players receiving all conference recognition to the bottom of our roster, the commitment to the team has been outstanding. NEC Men’s Soccer has many quality players. To receive all-conference recognition for six players shows the depth in this year’s squad. Their performance both on the field and in the classroom has been exceptional.” McCourt, who has an overall career record of 71-25-9 and a 36-8-11 leaguemark atMonmouth, has certainly taken the MU program to new national heights. The Kearny native led the Hawks to the highest national ranking for any sport in school history when MU was seventh in the NSCAA/Adidas National Rankings a few weeks ago. In all, the men’s soccer team was ranked for 10 straight weeks, a program high, while also placing in the top 10 for six weeks. Kinne joins Steven Holloway (2006) and Joni Kallioinen (1990, 91) as the only Hawks to ever earn NEC Player of the Year. He earned the distinction by leading Monmouth’s offense with nine goals, six assists and 24 points, which ranked second in the league. The junior Hermann Award Watch List member also added five game-winning markers. Bostock continued a recent Monmouth tradition in claiming the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award, as his win marked the fourth time in the last five years that a Hawk took home the hardware. The central defender also added a goal and an assist while helping lead the top defense in the country. MU led the nation in team-goals-against average and shutout percentage, allowing 0.33 tallies per match while shutting out the opposition in 72 percent of its matches. He was also recently named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District II First Team. Another defensive stalwart, Allen made his first all-league team after a stellar sophomore season. The attacking defender, who has started every match since he appeared on campus last season, had two goals and ranked second in the conference with a team-high seven assists, while also supplying solid technical defense along the league’s best back line. Meredith also deserves much of the credit for the Hawks’ defensive prowess, as he enjoyed one of the finest seasons for a keeper in Monmouth men’s soccer history. Meredith led the nation in goals against average, allowing 0.306 goals per game, while also ranking third in the nation in save percentage, stopping 88.9 percent of the shots he has faced this season. Meredith led all NEC keepers in GAA, save percentage, shutouts (12) and shutout percentage (71 percent). Clark enjoyed a banner season, ranking second on the team with six goals and 16 points, while adding four assists. His 16 points ties him for fifth in the league, while his six goals tie him for the sixth-most in the league. Hamilton, who also claimed his first allconference nod this season, has been a steady force in the midfield for the Hawks all year. Hamilton, who is equally adept at defending as he is attacking, added a game-winning goal this season while starting every contest.