SOMERSET, N.J. - Men's soccer head coach Joe Barroso was selected as the Northeast Conference Coach of the Year by his peers. The announcement came at the NEC men's soccer tournament banquet, Thursday evening. Along with coach Barroso, Marcello Castro took home a major award as he was honored as the league's Defensive Player of the Year.
This is the first time that any Sacred Heart player or coach earned a major award. For Barroso, this is his second Coach of the Year award as he earned the same award in 2001 when he led the Pioneer women's soccer team to its only NEC Championship. He is the only coach in conference history to receive the award as a coach of a men's and women's team. Under Barroso's direction, Sacred Heart raced out to a 4-0 start to the season and received votes in the NSCAA/hendrickcars.com national rankings for the first time in program history. By season's end the Pioneers were 11-5-2, setting a new record for wins in a season at the Division I level, and 6-2-2 in the league. Their conference record was good enough for the number two seed in this weekend's tournament, their highest seed in three times qualifying.
Castro, a sophomore defender from Parana, Brazil, anchored SHU's backline throughout the season. As a unit, the Pioneer defense allowed only 19 goals in 18 games and helped produce seven shutouts, six of which came against NEC opponents. Castro made a seemless transition this season from central midfield to central defense. The move did not prohibit him offensively as he led Sacred Heart in scoring with five goals and 12 points. Castro, who was named the adidas/NEC Player of the Week on September 13, was also tabbed to the All-NEC First Team.
Sophomore midfielder Edwin Victor (Bridgeport, Conn.) also received a postseason honor from the league, being named to the All-NEC Second Team. Although Victor's number do not jump off the stat sheet, he was a major contributor to the Pioneers in the middle of the field. He was one of only three players on the team to start in all 18 games for Sacred Heart. Victor's ability to play both ways was intrical in kick-starting the team's offensive attacks.
The Pioneers face-off with Saint Francis (PA) tomorrow at 1:30 pm on Monmouth's Great Lawn in their first NEC semi-final game since 2007. The game will be broadcast live on NortheastConference.tv or you can follow along on twitter @SHUBigRed.