FAIRFIELD, Conn.—The Sacred Heart men's soccer team earned four Northeast Conference All-Conference selections on Thursday night. Senior forward Shaquille Saunchez headlines the team with an All-NEC first team selection. Senior captain Julian Linke earned All-NEC Second Team. A pair of freshmen, Oscar Curras and Robert Strain were selected to All-Rookie team.
Saunchez earned his first All-NEC first team selection thanks to a sensational senior campaign as he led the Pioneers with eight goals and 17 points en route to their first NEC Tournament appearance since 2011. Saunchez ranks first in the NEC with 3.88 shots per game, and currently sits fourth in points and third in goals. He is the reigning NEC Player of the Week after his two goal performance in Sunday's regular season finale, a 2-0 victory against FDU.
Linke earned his first All-NEC Second Team honor, anchoring the Pioneers' defense in his 16 starts. He has played every minute in nine contests on the season including four extra time games. He picked up his lone assist on the season, by setting up the game winning goal for Nick Zorbo in Sacred Heart's 3-2 overtime victory over Bryant on October 28. Linke and the Sacred Heart defense rank fifth in the NEC with a 1.59 goals against average.
Curras earned an All-Rookie selection. He has recorded three points on one goal and one assist in his first season with the Pioneers. He netted a penalty kick goal to get SHU the 2-1 victory in their season opener at Iona on August 30. His assist came on a corner kick feed to Chris Carniero in the Pioneers 3-0 victory over Robert Morris on October 23.
Strain started every game in goal for the Pioneers in his rookie season, earning him a spot on the All-Rookie team. He was a two-time NEC Rookie of the Week this season for his outstanding play. His first selection came after he recorded a career-high 10 stops, including a penalty kick save against Stony Brook on September 24. He closed out the regular season as Rookie of the Week for to his four save shutout in the 2-0 victory over FDU in the regular season finale. His 86 saves and 5.06 saves per game average put tied for second in the NEC.
The Pioneers are set to battle top-seeded St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament semifinal on Friday at 3:00pm. Follow the action live on NEC Front Row.