DURHAM, N.H. - Five players were honored by the University of New Hampshire men’s soccer team at the annual awards banquet, held recently on campus.
Senior Ryan DiNunzio (Kenmore, N.Y.) earned the Walter Weiland Award as the team’s most dedicated player for the fourth straight season. DiNunzio provided solid leadership all four years and split time between the backfield and midfield positions while at UNH. He capped off his senior campaign by scoring three goals, including two game-winners, during UNHís late-season drive to the playoffs. His first goal completed the Wildcats’ 3-2 comeback win over Hartford and his last two came during a 3-2 victory over Drexel, including the overtime tally that won it.
Sophomore Matt Chambers (Conifer, Col.) earned the Glenn Aborn Award for being the most improved player on the Wildcat squad. Chambers helped solidify the UNH defense and started 15 of the 17 games in which he played in this season, mostly at the back position. His play in the UVM Smith Barney Soccer Classic helped UNH win the tournament championship and earned him a spot on the All-Tournament Team. The ‘Cats took home the trophy with two double-overtime victories against Holy Cross and Georgetown.
Back Christian Pauckstadt (Wuppertal, Germany) was given the Harvey Johnson Award as the team’s most inspirational player. The junior, regarded as the team’s best man-to-man marker, missed several games due to injury but returned late in the season to provide a boost to the Wildcat backfield. Pauckstadt, along with junior Doug Lawver (Doylestown, Pa.) were named co-captains for the 2002 season.
Freshman goalkeeper Nate Tupper (New Boston, N.H.) took home the H. Richard Sandler Award for academic achievement while Brendan Hankard (Glastonbury, Conn.) was given the Robert Black Award as the most valuable player after recording five goals and two assists from his sweeper position last season.
The team also honored its senior class, which leaves as one of the most competitive classes in the history of UNH soccer. DiNunzio, Ken Hayner (Charlton, N.Y.), Andy Karam (Schenectady, N.Y.), Shaun OíNeil (Wrentham, Mass.) and Tyler Tibbs (Beaverton, Ore.) helped the Wildcats (7-8-3, 5-4-2 America East) earn their first playoff berth since 1994.
"Our returning players have as much talent as this year’s seniors, if not more, to succeed on the playing field," says UNH head coach Rob Thompson. "Our challenge next season is to match the professional attitude, work ethic, competitive spirit and leadership skills they’ve blessed us with during their careers."