EDMONTON – Thompson Rivers’ soccer season to remember has another shining moment.
TRU WolfPack forward Mitchell Popadynetz has been named the 2017 Canada West Men’s Soccer Player of the Year after leading the ‘Pack to the playoffs for the first time. The fourth-year becomes the first player in TRU program history to claim the conference’s top individual award.
Popadynetz, along with UBC’s Victory Shumbusho (Rookie of the Year), Alberta’s Tolu Esan (Student-Athlete Community Service), and Trinity Western’s Mike Shearon (Coach of the Year) were named as the conference’s major award winners Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s CW Final Four hosted by UBC in Vancouver.
Earning team accolades are the Victoria Vikes, who take home the Fair Play Award after being handed 11 yellow cards during the regular season.
In addition to the conference’s major award winners, the Canada West all-star and all-rookie teams were unveiled, with the Alberta Golden Bears leading the way with seven combined players honoured.
Alberta, along with the host UBC Thunderbirds, Trinity Western Spartans, and Popadynetz’s WolfPack take to the pitch Friday, Nov. 3 in CW Final Four semifinal action, before the conference season concludes Saturday with the CW bronze and gold medal games.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Mitchell Popadynetz
Thompson Rivers WolfPack
For the first time in their four-year history, the TRU WolfPack can claim the conference’s top player as their own, as Mitchell Popadynetz has been named the CW Men’s Soccer Player of the Year. He nows moves forward as the CW nominee for the Joe Johnson Memorial Trophy as national player of the year.
Popadynetz was dynamic for the ‘Pack this season, leading the team offensively with seven goals, 10 assists, and 17 points. The Maple Ridge, B.C. native’s 10 assists topped the conference, while his 17 points tied for first in Canada West with Alberta’s Ajeej Sarkaria – last year’s Player of the Year.
Popadynetz’s play was pivotal to Thompson Rivers’ success this season, as the team finished 3rd in the Pacific Division with a 6-3-6 record and qualified for the CW playoffs for the first time in their brief CW history.
TRU and their newly crowned Player of the Year are set for this weekend’s Final Four, and will then host the nation’s best, as the 2017 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship is headed to Kamloops, B.C. Nov. 9-12.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – Victory Shumbusho
Seven goals in just 10 games. That says it all for UBC’s Victory Shumbusho, who was dominant for the Thunderbirds this season.
After spending last season with Vancouver Whitecaps Residency, Shumbusho was dynamic for UBC in 2017, finishing tied for third in the conference with seven goals, while accounting for nearly 25 per cent of the T-Birds offence this season (30 goals for).
It’s been a remarkable journey to UBC for Shumbusho, who was born in Congo, left for Uganda with his family due to civil war at the age of nine, and eventually settled as a refugee in Chilliwack.
Now, he’s a worthy Canada West award winner with his sights set on claiming the U SPORTS Lou Bilek Award as national rookie of the year in a week’s time.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE – Tolu Esan
Alberta Golden Bears
Along with leading the Bears to a 2016 U SPORTS national title, where he was named tournament MVP, Tolu Esan has also delivered off the field during his time at the University of Alberta.
Esan serves as VP, Programming for the University Athletics Board, which is a student-athlete led community service group. He has also been involved in helping fellow student-athletes in a variety of ways, including Alberta’s first-year athlete mentorship program, and the Bear Pause initiative, which is a student-athlete support group that assists with the stress associated of being an athlete and balancing academics.
He now moves forward as the conference’s nominee for the U SPORTS Student-Athlete Community Service Award.
COACH OF THE YEAR – Mike Shearon
Trinity Western Spartans
In just his second season guiding the Trinity Western Spartans, Mike Shearon is the Canada West Coach of the Year.
In his first two years as the TWU bench boss, Shearon has led the Spartans to back-to-back Canada West Final Four appearances, earning a Canada West bronze medal in 2016, which was the program’s first conference medal since 2008. Last season, Shearon helped TWU to a nine-win regular season, which equaled the Spartans second best win total in program history. He followed that up with an 8-4-4 record this season, which was good for second in Canada West’s Pacific Division.
Prior to 2010, when he was promoted to associate head coach, Shearon was an assistant coach with the Spartans from 1998-2002 and 2004-2009. During that stretch, he helped the Spartans to three U SPORTS medals (silver in 2006 and 2008 and bronze in 2005), three Canada West championships (2005, 2006 and 2007) and three Canada West league titles (2003, 2004 and 2007).
2017 CANADA WEST MEN’S SOCCER ALL-STARS & ALL-ROOKIES
POSITION / NAME / SCHOOL / YEAR / HOMETOWN / PROGRAM
GK / Connor James / Alberta / 4th / Edmonton, Alta. / Business
D / Noah Cunningham / Alberta / 2nd / St. Albert, Alta. / Education
D / Elie Gindo / Trinity Western / 5th / Langley, B.C. / Business Administration
D / Bruno Zebie / Alberta / 3rd / Paris, France / Phys. Ed. & Recreation
D / Hamish Walde / UBC Okanagan / 3rd / Salt Spring Island, B.C. / Applied Science
D / Jacob Powell / Saskatchewan / 3rd / Vancouver, B.C. / Business
O / Ajeej Sarkaria / Alberta / 2nd / Edmonton, Alta. / Business
O / Victory Shumbusho / UBC / 1st / Chilliwack, B.C. / Arts
O / Mitchell Popadynetz / Thompson Rivers / 4th / Nelson, B.C. / Business
O / Bori Falaye / Calgary / 2nd / Calgary, Alta. / Engineering
O / Isaac Koch / Victoria / 3rd / West Kelowna, B.C. / Social Sciences
POSITION / NAME / SCHOOL / YEAR / HOMETOWN / PROGRAM
GK / Mitch McCaw / UBC Okanagan / 5th / Calgary, Alta. / Management
D / Connor Guilherme / UBC / 2nd / Thunder Bay, Ont. / Science
D / Jeff Blake / Mount Royal / 5th / Calgary, Alta. / Business Administration
D / Gordon Hall / UNBC / 4th / Chilliwack, B.C. / Forest Ecology & Management
D / Sam Gagne / Calgary / 1st / Airdrie, Alta. / Arts
D / Finlay McPhie / Thompson Rivers / 4th / Vernon, B.C. / Business
O / Ajay Khabra / Alberta / 5th / Edmonton, Alta. / Science
O / Leighton Johnson / Trinity Western / 4th / Strathmore, Alta. / Education
O / Tolu Esan / Alberta / 5th / Calgary, Alta. / Engineering
O / Ryan Glanville / Thompson Rivers / 5th / Williams Lake, B.C. / MBA
O / Tofa Fakunle / UNBC / 5th / Calgary, Alta. / Psychology
POSITION / NAME / SCHOOL / HOMETOWN / PROGRAM
GK / Sebastian Colyn / Trinity Western / Langley, B.C. / Business Administration
D / Sam Gagne / Calgary / Airdrie, Alta. / Arts
D / Sam McDonald / UBC Okanagan / Kelowna, B.C. / Management
D / Josh Banton / Thompson Rivers / London, England / Psychology
D / Jan Pirretas-Glasmacher / Thompson Rivers / Barcelona, Spain / Business
D / Joshua Munoz / Mount Royal / Winnipeg, Man. / Open Studies
O / Dominick Zuczek / Calgary / Calgary, Alta. / Engineering
O / Easton Ongaro / Alberta / Edmonton, Alta. / Arts
O / Victory Shumbusho / UBC / Chilliwack, B.C. / Arts
O / Kwame Opoku / Saskatchewan / Calgary, Alta. / Engineering
O / Patrick Izett / UBC / Delta, B.C. / Arts
CW MSOC ALL-STARS & ALL-ROOKIES BY TEAM:
Alberta Golden Bears – 7
Thompson Rivers WolfPack – 5
UBC Thunderbirds – 4
Calgary Dinos – 4
Trinity Western Spartans – 3
UBCO Heat – 3
Mount Royal Cougars – 2
UNBC Timberwolves – 2
Saskatchewan Huskies – 2
Victoria Vikes – 1