WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State University commanded three of the four major awards and six players were named to the all-conference team in the Little East Conference’s season-ending men’s soccer awards program, released today.
Junior defender Nick Starkowski (Marlborough) was named Defensive Player-of-the-Year and freshman forward Patrick Agyemang (East Hartford) Rookie-of-the-Year and 12th-year head coach Greg DeVito and his staff were voted Coaching Staff-of-the-Year. It marked the first time that Eastern was selected to receive as many as three major awards.
Agyemang and Starkowski were joined on the all-conference first team by junior midfielder Justin Jensen (Wethersfield). Named to the second team were junior forward Griffin Luczek (Lee, NH), sophomore defender Brendan D’Arcy (West Hartford) and freshman midfielder Will Toomey (Willington). All six players were recognized in the season-ending awards program for the first times in their careers.
The Warriors have averaged five all-conference selections per year under DeVito, who directed Eastern to first place in the final LEC regular-season standings with a 7-1-0 record (15-4-0 overall) and 21 points. Eastern had eight points with a 2-3-2 record last year and missed the LEC playoffs for the first time under the current head coach. Under DeVito, Eastern has won five outright LEC regular-season championships and has shared two others and has gone on to five LEC playoff titles.
All nine conference teams were represented with at least one selection to the all-conference team but none had more than Eastern’s total of six. Voting for the major awards and all-conference teams was done by the conference’s nine head coaches.
The first and second all-conference teams were each comprised of four defenders, four midfielders, three forwards and one goalkeeper. Agyemang was the only freshman named to the first team, becoming the program’s first freshman first-teamer in 17 years and third overall in 30 years of all-conference voting.
Starkowski becomes the program’s eighth Defensive Player-of-the-Year under DeVito and Agyemang the second Rookie-of-the-Year under the current head coach. DeVito and his staff earned the Coaching Staff-of-the-Year honor for the third time (prior to this year, the award was designated simply as Coach-of-the-Year).
With Starkowski and D’Arcy keying the defense, Eastern shut out five of eight conference opponents and allowed only five goals – equaling the least goals allowed in conference play by a conference team and equaling the most number of shutouts by a conference team in conference play.
Agyemang, Jensen and Starkowski each had four goals in conference regular-season games, with Luczek scoring two and assisting on three. The foursome combined for the game-winning goals in all seven matches, Starkowski recording three, Luczek two and Jensen and Agyemang one each.
In all games, Eastern’s goals-against average of 0.95 was second only to Keene State College (0.94), and its 18 goals allowed overall equaled the least allowed by an LEC team.
A three-time selection as LEC Rookie-of-the-Week, Agyemang led Eastern with nine goals and 21 points, his goals and points the most by an Eastern freshman since second-team All-LEC choice Stephen Chirgwin led the Warriors with 14 goals and 34 points in 1993. He ranks in a tie for fourth in the LEC in goals and tied for fifth in points. Four of Agyemang’s goals were game-winners. On the season, Agyemang appeared in all 19 matches, with 18 starts, and also topped the team with 43 shots.
Twice named LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Week, Starkowski started 16 of the 18 matches in which he appeared and was second on the team in minutes (1,417) and average minutes (78.7).
Jensen, who missed all but one match in 2017 due to injury, had career-highs of six goals, a team-high seven assists and 19 points, sharing second place on the team with Luczek in points. He appeared in the first 18 matches – with 16 starts – before sitting out the Little East semifinal due to injury. His 12 career goals, 14 assists and 38 points lead all active players.
Luczek, named LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Week in the first report of the season, was the only player to start all 19 matches, finishing second to Agyemang in goals (7) and points (19). He averaged 58.6 minutes per match.
D’Arcy led all players in minutes (1,425) and average minutes (83.8). He started 16 of the 17 matches in which he appeared with one assist.
Toomey gives Eastern two freshmen all-conference selections for the first time since 2001 and second time ever. Picked as LEC Rookie-of-the-Week in the second report of the season, Toomey started 16 of the 17 matches in which he appeared, averaging 68.9 minutes per match and chipping in six assists and two goals.
DeVito (153-68-24/67.3) has averaged 12.8 wins as Eastern’s head coach, with this year’s winning percentage of 78.9 the second-highest in a season during his tenure. The 15 wins pulled him even with Tom Nevers (1961-78) as the winningest coach in program history. His winning percentage bests that of the previous five coaches in program history.
DeVito was previously named Coach-of-the-Year in 2007 and 2013. In 2007, he directed the Warriors to the LEC regular-season and playoff titles as a first-year head coach after inheriting a team which had placed fifth and missed the LEC playoffs for the fourth time in five years in 2006. In 2013, his team won the third of three straight LEC regular-season and playoff championships.