Falcon men's soccer coaches present Pujats with the MVP award
U.S. Air Force Academy, CO – Trey Pujats was honored as Air Force’s Most Valuable Player of 2016 at the annual men’s soccer awards banquet. The Falcons, who finished second at the Western Athletic Conference Championship and concluded the season with the second-most program wins, saw six players earn exceptional honors at the event. Air Force finished the season third in the WAC with an overall record of 14-7-1 and conference mark of 6-3-1.
Pujats in pursuit
Pujats, a junior defender, was recognized by coaches and teammates as an instrumental member of the team’s success. The Keller, Texas native registered three goals and an assist in 20 matches played. His true value to the Falcons’ was on the defensive side of the ball. Pujats’ defensive merits earned him a spot on the WAC’s all-tournament first-team along with the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week honors. He started in 18 of 22 total matches, nine of 10 conference matches and all three WAC Tournament matches.
Pujats and team captain Cameron Duley were linchpin defenders in the Falcon defense. The duo played an integral role in marking the opponent’s top scorers, contributing to Air Force outscoring their opponents, 45-25, on the season. The Falcon defense mustered eight shutouts on the season, holding WAC heavyweight, Seattle U, to nil in the regular-season finale.
The squad praises a fired up Duley
Senior midfielder, Duley, was honored with the Coaches’ Appreciation Award. The award is not given out every year, but recognizes a senior player who has had a significantly positive impact the program during their four years on the team. Senior defender Tucker Axhoj was also honored with the Coaches’ Appreciation Award. Coaches boast that the award is given to players in which the team would not be the same without, and that their presence has had tremendous impact on the program.
Axhoj in full stride
Duley started in 17 of 19 matches played; he registered four assists and two goals, including one from a penalty kick. Duley, of Roswell, Georgia, was added to WAC’s all-tournament team following the championship runner-up finish. Axhoj started in 20 of 22 games played; he logged four goals and five assists on the season and led the team with 19 shots on goal. Waxhaw, North Carolina native, Axhoj, is a four-time academic all-conference winner.
Parker soars through the air for a header
The team’s Most Improved Award was given to sophomore defensive midfielder, Klint Parker. Parker registered five goals and four assists, with the second best shots on goal percentage (.621) on the team. Parker, of Charlotte, North Carolina, started in 16 of 22 matches played on the season. Senior defender, Hunter Robinson, earned the team’s Most Inspirational Player award. The Fort Collins, Colorado, native saw action in 17 games, registering a goal against conference foe, UMKC.
Robinson battles for possession
“It was a story book season,” said head coach Doug Hill. “I’m proud of the guys and the way they battled all season. They brought tremendous mentality, effort and attitude to every match and they fought extremely hard until the very end.”
“I’m proud to coach the men at the Air Force Academy,” Hill continued. “They’ll go on to do great things in the Air Force, so it was a great season and it was a lot to be proud of.”
The 2016 season marks Hill’s most single-season wins since taking the helm of the Falcons in 2007. Air Force returned to the WAC Championship for the first time since playing Fresno State in the 1996 finals match; the same year that the Falcons had 14 single-season wins under legendary coach, Lou Sagastume. The 1993 team holds the program record of 15 single-season wins.
2016 Men’s Soccer Awards
Most Valuable Player
Rookie of the Year