YORK'S BRUNO NAMED CIS M-SOCCER PLAYER OF THE YEAR

OTTAWA, Ont. – Third-year York midfielder Francesco Bruno is the player of the year in Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's soccer.

The Toronto native is the first Lion to receive the Joe Johnson Memorial Trophy since the inception of the award in 1991.

Other CIS major award winners announced Wednesday night during the All-Canadian Banquet were Western Ontario's Pat Mroczek of St. Catharines, Ont., who was named the nation's top rookie, Wilfrid Laurier's Imran Ahmed of Windsor, Ont., who received the second annual Student-Athlete Community Service Award, and Dalhousie's Pat Nearing, chosen coach of the year.

The 2008 CIS championship gets under way Thursday at Carleton University. The gold-medal final is slated for Sunday at 3 p.m.

Championship web site: www.universitysport.ca/e/championships/m_soccer/2008

Bruno (pictured), who joined the Lions from Syracuse University in 2007, tied for second in the nation in scoring during the regular season with 10 goals in 14 games, including three game-winning markers. His brilliant play helped York finish first in the OUA West for a second straight year with a 9-4-1 record.

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior added two goals in a quarter-final victory over Brock and guided the Lions to the OUA final and a berth in the CIS championship for the second season in a row. For the second consecutive year, he was a first-team OUA West all-star and found a place on the first all-Canadian squad.

Bruno, a business and society student, was a member of Team Canada at the FIFA under-20 world championship in 2003.

"Francesco is one of the most complete players we have in this country. He can defend, he can pass, he can dribble and he can score," said York head coach Carmine Isacco. "When you combine all of his ability with a ton of integrity, without question he is deserving of the player of the year award."

Mroczek is the first Mustang to claim rookie-of-the-year honours since the award was first presented in 1999, and the third straight winner from the OUA West after York's Moreno Alberti in 2007 and Jamaal Smith two years ago.

The first-year forward was the highest-scoring freshman in the nation this fall with eight goals in 14 conference outings, which tied him for tenth in CIS and fourth in the OUA. The business management student added two markers in the first round of the playoffs, scoring twice in the final 10 minutes of regulation to lift Western to a 3-2 win over Guelph.

His offensive prowess earned Mroczek OUA first-team all-star and second-team all-Canadian status.

"Pat has exceeded our expectations when we recruited him as a striker to score goals for Western," said Mustangs head coach Rock Basacco. "He is deceptively fast and has a great first touch that sets him up for a quick strike on goal. He is exceptionally strong in the air and scored four goals with his head."

Ahmed, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound midfielder, was an integral part of the Golden Hawks' success this season as Laurier captured its first OUA banner since 2000 and earned a berth in the CIS championship for the first time since the team claimed back-to-back national titles in 2000 and 2001.

Away from the pitch, Ahmed, who holds a 9.0 grade point average and is applying for grad school, is president of both the Lettermen Club and the Italian Club at Laurier, groups that are responsible for organizing school functions, fundraising initiatives and volunteer opportunities that benefit both the school and the community.

Ahmed has helped raise money for the fight against breast cancer through his involvement with the university's women's flag football organization, has taken trips to local schools to help children with arts and crafts, and has organized a Lettermen Kids Day, which brought elementary school kids from the Kitchener-Waterloo Community together to show them the importance of athletics and academics. He is also an instructor with a local soccer academy, Elite Athletes International, which develops players aged six to 16.

"Imran is one of those people who wants to be involved in many aspects of life," commented Laurier head coach Mario Halapir. "He enjoys working with kids and trying to do things to raise awareness of sport and create positive opportunities."

Nearing becomes the first Dalhousie sideline boss to be named CIS coach of the year since the inception of the distinction in 1981, and is the first recipient from the AUS since UPEI's Lewis Page in 2002.

In his tenth season at the helm of the Tigers' program, Nearing operated one of the most impressive turnarounds in CIS men's soccer history, leading his team to a first AUS banner and a first berth in the CIS championship since 1999 only one year after Dalhousie finished at the bottom of the conference standings with only one win to its credit.

The 2008 Tigers compiled a 7-4-2 record in the regular season to take fourth place in the AUS standings, only one point back of both Moncton and Saint Mary's, before going on a tear at the conference championship with three wins in three days, including a 1-0 upset victory over top-seeded UNB in the gold-medal final.

Nearing was in his first campaign with the Tigers when they last competed at the CIS tourney, in 1999.

The all-Canadian teams were also announced on Thursday.

The 10 players joining Bruno on the first CIS squad are Montreal goalkeeper Gérardo Argento of Montreal, Montreal defender Augustin Nechad of France, UBC defender Graham Smith of Abbotsford, B.C., Saint Mary's defender Jonathan McNeil of Halifax, York midfielder Gerard Ladiyou of Burlington, Ont., Moncton midfielder Olivier Babineau of Dieppe, N.B., UBC midfielder Nick Poole of Mission, B.C., Sherbrooke striker Yannick Rome-Gosselin of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., Victoria forward Cole McFarlane of Calgary, and Carleton striker Matthew D'Angelo of Ottawa.

Named CIS rookie of the year in 2005, Argento is a CIS all-star for the fourth time in as many seasons, including three first-team nods. Smith was a member of the second CIS team a year ago, while McFarlane was a first-team all-Canadian in 2006.

Babineau is the first Moncton all-Canadian since 1993, while Rome-Gosselin is the first Sherbrooke player to make the first team since 1994.

Joining Mroczek on the second CIS squad are UBC goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic of Vancouver, Carleton defender Nicholas Persichino of Thunder Bay, Ont., Trinity Western defender Paul Hamilton of Calgary, Laval defender Alexandre Lévesque-Tremblay of Baie-Saint-Paul, Que., Montreal midfielder Wandrille Lefevre of France, Dalhousie midfielder Ross Hagen of Calgary, McGill forward / midfielder James Scholefield of Senneville, Que., UNB striker Ken Morrison of Fredericton, UPEI striker Paul Craig of Charlottetown, and Alberta forward Brett Colvin of Calgary.

Source:CIS Communications

Photo Credit: Michael P. Hall
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