Five Spartan Men’s Soccer Players Earn IIAC Honors
Nov 18, 2014
DUBUQUE, Iowa – The University of Dubuque men’s soccer team claimed the most all-Iowa Conference award winners since six Spartans were named All-Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) selections every year from 2009-2011.
Earning his first start in the fifth game of the season was junior GK Riley Jensen, who was a defensive menace in his first year between the posts after finishing as league leader in the IIAC in saves (43), saves per game (6.14), and second in save percentage (.782) during seven IIAC games. Jensen started off on the right foot after tallying 10 saves in his first start, a 2-2 draw, against UW-Whitewater on September 10th. Jensen earned the first win of his career, a 4-0 shutout, against Monmouth College on September 24th.
UD’s first, 1st team All-IIAC goalkeeper played his best against the IIAC elite and pair of Sweet-16 participants after stopping 11 shots against Wartburg in a 1-1 tie, and 21 combined shots in two games vs. No. 8 Loras. The Elgin, Ill. native allowed three goals combined in both games against Loras, but was stellar after facing 55 total shots and 29 corner kicks. The one-time IIAC Defensive Performer of the Week’s performance in the IIAC semifinals kept the Spartans in it despite falling in OT, 2-1.
The 2013 All-IIAC Honorable Mention selection, sophomore forward Gonzalo Hernandez, led the charge on goal after pacing the IIAC with 31 shots, finishing second in points (13), and placing third in goals (5) during seven IIAC games. The Madrid, Spain native currently ranks Top-10 in UD history in career goals (13), game-winners (3), points (35), and assists (9).
Hernandez finished the year strong after collecting 10 points in the three games leading up to the IIAC semifinal. Hernandez's game-winning goal in the second overtime capped a thrilling win vs. Simpson on October 25th. Hernandez would follow that with a season-high five points off two goals and one assist in a narrow loss to No. 19 Luther in 2OT, 4-3. Hernandez's efforts against Luther and the following game against Simpson in the IIAC first round earned him IIAC Offensive Performer of the Week. Hernandez and Co. outscored their opponents by the slim margin of 32-28 over the course of the year.
Hernandez and Jensen became the eighth and ninth All-IIAC first teamers in school history.
Team captain, senior Will Hirsch, garnered his first IIAC honor after anchoring the UD defense. Hirsch's efforts on the backline allowed the Spartans to outshoot opponents in nine of their games this season. The Spartans finished fourth in IIAC play with 12 goals against. UD would give up just two goals combined against two of the highest scoring teams in the IIAC and NCAA Sweet 16 participants, Wartburg and Loras.
The Iowa City, Iowa native’s lone point came in the form of an assist to fellow IIAC honoree Billy Belmonte against Monmouth on September 24th.
Junior midfielder Belmonte left his mark with five goals and one assist, good for 11 points on the year. Belmonte's first career goal came against UW-Whitewater on September 10th. Two games later Belmonte earned his first start of the season that he held the rest of the way.
The Elk Grove Village, Ill. native nabbed a career-high three points in the September 27th win over Buena Vista, 4-2, after he tallied one goal and one assist. Belmonte led the Spartans with a .733 shot on goal percentage after 22 of his 30 shots found their mark.
The seasoned veteran (35 career starts coming into 2014), senior midfielder Brandon Wiley, formed the other half of the primary Spartan attack with Hernandez after tying for the team lead with nine goals on the season. Wiley finished fourth in shots (21), fifth in points (10) and fifth in goals (4) in the league during seven conference contests.
Wiley also saved his best for last after racking up eight points in three of the Spartans' last four matches. Wiley tallied one goal and one assist against Simpson on both October 25th and November 1st. The Mannheim, Germany native contributed to every goal on October 25th and provided the winning assist to Gonzalez in the second overtime. Wiley's equalizer in the 76th minute helped force overtime in a 2-1 loss in the IIAC semifinals on November 5th.
Wiley's first IIAC honor adds to his list of UD accomplishments that includes ranking fifth in school history in career shots (145), sixth in career assists (13), and third in season assists (8) in 2012.
This year marked the Spartans sixth straight trip to the IIAC tournament. UD made it to their third IIAC semifinals in the last five years and have been anxiously awaiting their arrival in the tournament championship match.
Official IIAC release