UWS's Rodriguez named WIAC co-player of year
University of Wisconsin-Superior sophomore Gio Rodriguez and UW-Whitewater’s John Gottwald were named the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Co-Players of the Year in men’s soccer.
Rodriguez appeared in all 20 games for the Yellowjackets in 2014, making 18 starts. He scored 10 goals, which led the Yellowjackets and placed him second in the WIAC.
Rodriguez racked up 24 points on the season, good for the top spot on the Yellowjackets and third overall in the conference. In addition to co-player of the year honors, Rodriguez was named All-WIAC First Team.
“From the first day of the season through the final game we played, Gio was a different player than he was a year ago. He really asserted himself and became a top offensive player, not just on our own roster but in the conference,” UWS coach Joe Mooney said. “It seemed like any time we needed a big play offensively or a big goal, Gio was there and came through. He took a big leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons, and I’m excited to see where he can go from this point.”
Other Yellowjackets joining Rodriguez on the All-WIAC First Team were seniors Brian Grand, Zach Harwerth, and Ben Kasper.
Grand makes his second appearance on the All-WIAC First Team. In 2014, he was second on the team in goals (5) and points (15) while leading the team in assists (5).
“Brian didn’t put up the numbers that he did last year, but he may have been more valuable to our team,” Mooney said. “We put him in different positions, positions where we felt he would best help the team and he did it very unselfishly. Even being in different positions, though, he still put up strong numbers for our team.”
Harwerth, in his second season with the Yellowjackets, was in goal for six of the team’s nine wins in 2014. He finished the year with a 6-2-1 record, three shutouts and a goals against average of 0.87.
“Zach showed a lot of character last year when he came in and didn’t play much. He didn’t complain, worked extremely hard and in the end he was rewarded with a great year this year,” Mooney said. “He is a tireless worker, a tremendous leader and definitely deserves this recognition from the WIAC.”
Kasper for much of his career was a very consistent player for the Yellowjackets. As a senior, he appeared in 18 games, making 14 starts. He scored three goals and six points, which ranked fourth and fifth on the team, respectively.
“Ben was such a key player for us, not just this year but throughout his career,” Mooney said. “From the first goal of his career, an overtime winner against St. Scholastica through this year, he always showed up, always played big for us.”
In addition, senior John Levenick and junior Joey Gustafson were named All-WIAC Second Team. Levenick played in 17 games, starting 14, and scored one goal on the year.
Gustafson, in his first season with the Yellowjackets after transferring to UWS, had one assist in 20 games and was a key component of the Yellowjacket defense, which surrendered just 24 goals in 20 games.
“For me, I’m thankful that I get a couple of these guys back next year as we continue to build on things here at UW-Superior,” Mooney said. “But I do feel badly for my seniors that they didn’t go out on the note that they wanted to. For Brian, Zach, Ben, and John, this is a nice topper to what ended up being nice careers here.”
Senior Mitch Wilkinson was UWS’s entrant on the WIAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
2014 All-WIAC Men’s Soccer Team
Karl Bock, UWO, Jr., D
Sam Gabrilska, UWO, So., GK
John Gottwald, UWW, Sr., Mid.
Brian Grand, UWS, Sr., Mid.
Zach Harwerth, UWS, Sr., GK
Jacob Hernandez, UWO, So., Mid.
Ben Kasper, UWS, Sr., F
Sam Novak, UWW, Jr., F
Gio Rodriguez, UWS, So., Mid.
Mbodje Sarr, UWP, Sr., F
Javier Simon, UWO, Fr., F
Jonathan Stanley, UWO, Jr., D
Brad Streich, UWP, Sr., D
Jaime Cuevas, Fin., So., F
Michael Dugan, UWO, Jr., F
Joey Gustafson, UWS, Jr., D
Saul Ibarra, Fin., Fr., F
Daniel Kobin, UWO, Sr., Mid.
John Levenick, UWS, Sr., D
Christian Martinez, Fin., Fr., F
Will Pretto, UWP, Jr., D
Ryan Reid, UWW, Sr., D
Kyle Ricely, UWW, Jr., Mid.
Brandon Roeske, Fin., Fr., GK
Josh Rohde, UWW, Sr., GK
Jon Stopple, UWP, So., Mid.
Alex Bach, UWP, So., D
Matt Cheaney, UWO, Jr., D
Cory Gardner, Finlandia, Fr., F
Michael Montanye, UWW, Sr., Mid.
Mitch Wilkinson, UWS, Sr., Mid.
Co-Offensive Players of the Year
John Gottwald, UWW and Gio Rodriguez, UWS
Defensive Player of the Year
Sam Gabrilska of UWO
Coach of the Year
Tony Guinn of UWW
Max Sparger Scholar-Athlete
John Gottwald of UWW