After the most successful season in the program's Division I history, the Central Arkansas Bears were well-rewarded by the Missouri Valley Conference's coaches on Thursday, with six players earning All-MVC honors.
Junior Niklas Brodacki became just the fourth player in MVC history to win multiple Player of the Year honors with his second win, and was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive year, while the Central Arkansas staff was named Coaching Staff of the Year for the second year in a row.
Brodacki, senior Daltyn Knutson, and sophomore Kasper Andersen were all named All-MVC First Team, while senior Chris Holmes earned All-MVC Second Team honors. Sophomore Soren Jensen and junior Marc Olsen were each named Honorable Mention as the Bears tied for the second most players honored in the league this year.
"Any kind of recognition is great, but it is a true honor when the teams you compete against are the ones recognizing you," UCA coach Ross Duncan said. "This conference is incredibly competitive, so to have so many of our guys get awards is a real accomplishment for us."
Brodacki, from Norrkoping, Sweden, leads the Bears and is tied for third in the Valley with seven goals and 14 points this season, while sitting fourth with 41 shots.
He joins SMU's Diego Walsh, Tulsa's Ryan Pore and Creighton's Ethan Finlay as the only players to win MVC Player of the Years honors multiple times, and is currently tied for ninth in MVC history with 37 career goals.
"Brodacki hasn't had the same attacking stats as in previous years, but his contributions to our team's success have been even greater," Duncan said of his team's captain. "He has taken on even more of a leadership role and has been incredibly selfless on the field. His work rate to press, his bravery to earn fouls, and his target play to help us get out of our defensive end are not things that show up on a stat sheet but that are really important to our team winning matches. He's done all of that this years as well as scoring big goals."
Knutson, from Spring, Texas, currently sits tied for eighth in the MVC with three assists and has scored one goal while leading the Bears in minutes played.
This season, he moved into first place in program history in minutes played, entering the MVC Tournament with 6,084 to his name.
"Daltyn has had a great career here and I'm proud of him for being able to cap it off with a First Team selection," Duncan said. "He covers so much ground for us and takes a lot of the pressure off of his teammates with his work rate and commitment. He's a great model for our younger guys on how to train and how the game should be played."
Andersen, from Oester Toerslev, Denmark, has emerged as a consistent threat for the Bears in his second season in the purple and gray, ranking third on the team with seven points.
He is tied for eighth in the Valley with three assists and has delivered a pair of game-winners, against Loyola and Evansville, good for third in the conference.
"Kasper has been a real handful for our opponents this year," Duncan said. "He's scored big goals for us to win conference games and is always a threat to get in behind defenses. He's likely on every scout as a player to be concerned with."
Holmes, from Conway, has continued to serve as a force in the UCA midfield, scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists while routinely opening up the Bears' attack and shutting down that of Central Arkansas' opponents.
A two-time All-MVC Second Team member, Holmes was named Google Cloud Academic All-District for the third time in his career earlier today.
"Chris has had a similar year to Brodacki in that his attacking stats aren't as impressive as in previous seasons, but he's finding ways to make even greater contributions for the sake of the team," Duncan said. "He has been played out of position in a lot of games because we needed a job done and knew we could trust him to do it."
Jensen, from Gentofte, Denkmark, made an immediate impact on the Valley in his first year at Central Arkansas, ranking fourth in assists per game (0.36), fifth in assists (five), seventh in points per game (0.64), and eighth in points (nine).
He has scored two goals, including the game-winner against Oral Roberts.
"Soren has come into our team this year and fit right into the midfield," Duncan said of the transfer from Cincinnati. "He allows us to keep the ball in tight spaces and has a ton of quality in the attacking half. He's shown himself to be a true two-way midfielder as well."
Olsen, from Copenhagen, Denmark, has continued to show the form that saw him named to the MVC All-Freshman Team in 2016 and earn All-MVC Honorable Mention last season, tallying six wins and five shutouts while playing 1,109 of UCA's 1,410 minutes in goal.
He is tied for third in the conference in shutouts while ranking sixth in goals against average (1.22), save percentage (.700), saves (35), and saves per game (2.92).
"Marc continues to impress and give our team confidence in goal," Duncan said. "Getting three shutouts in six conference games takes a strong effort from the goalkeeper. He really organizes our team well and keeps us in games."
Duncan and his staff; Ian Henry, Matt Taphorn, and Yuta Nomura, were named the Valley's Coaching Staff of the Year after leading the Bears to their first MVC regular season title and their first winning season at the Division I level.
Central Arkansas turned in its best record at the Bill Stephens Complex since the facility was built in 2009, going 5-1-1 in at home.
For more information on the All-Missouri Valley Conference teams, visit: http://mvc-sports.com/news/2018/11/8/MSOC_All-MVC.aspx