NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Highlighted by senior Mirko Nufi being named Northeast Conference (NEC) Defensive Player of the Year and Tony Martone and staff being named Coaching Staff of the Year, the Merrimack College men’s soccer team was well-represented when the NEC announces its major award winners and all-conference selections on Thursday night.
The team saw four student-athletes receive first team all-conference honors and three earn all-rookie team nods. In addition to being named Defensive Player of the Year, Nufi earned first team honors along with teammate’s sophomore Tola Showunmi, freshman Marc Torrellas and senior Lucas Rezende. Torrellas also landed on the all-rookie team with classmates Alessandro Negri, and Stefano Pesenti.
Nufi was the backbone of the Merrimack defensive unit that let up only 12 goals in 16 games this season, which was good enough for second best in school history. The Warriors averaged 0.75 goals against during the year, which was good enough for a top 15 ranking in the country and ranked first overall in the NEC.
Legendary men’s soccer coach Tony Martone took Division I by storm after winning the NEC in his team’s first year of affiliation. The Warriors went 11-3-2 including 9-0 in conference play. In the process, Martone won his 400th career game, making him the 50th coach in the history of collegiate soccer to accomplish the feat.
Torrellas started his Merrimack career on fire, scoring two goals in the first three games of the season. He finished with eight points, which was good enough to rank him fifth on the team and top among freshman.
Showunmi paced the offense for the Warriors scoring a team-high six goals on the season. The sophomore forward also was tied for the team high in points with 14 on the season and ranked eighth in the conference for the category.
Rezende finished his Merrimack career as one the best goalkeepers in school history. During his first year on Division I play, he ranked 38th in the country in goals against average with 0.72. He led the NEC in save percentage for those who qualify with .815. Rezende also ranks fifth in Merrimack school history in minutes played with 5212:36, third in career wins with 39, and second in shutouts with 25.
Negri started his Merrimack career off by leading the team in assists on the season with four. He also started 15 out of 16 games as a freshman for the Warriors.
Pesenti was named NEC Rookie of the Week after the first two games of the season for Merrimack. He finished the season with six points after a two goal and two assist season.