The NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) and NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) released their All-American selections for the 2018 season this week as Rafael Vacas, Joel Serrano, and Rafael Ramos have been recognized on the elite teams. This is the highest number of players selected in one year in Marshalltown Community College Soccer history.
"The first day of preseason we met in front of all the team trophies and All American diplomas and spoke about the synergy between team success and individual recognition. This year's group is full of players who put their best individual performance in service of team success so I am thankful and proud, yet not surprised, that they are now receiving the results of their hard work in the form of individual awards and scholarship offers to continue their careers at the next level," Head Coach Rafael Martinez said about the trio. "These recognitions are the result of a group of committed student-athletes working for each other."
Vacas, who was also named ICCAC (Iowa Community College Athletic Conference) Player of the Year, finds himself as one of four midfielders on the NJCAA 1st team, the highest distinction that the membership recognizes. Vacas led the Tigers as well as the ICCAC in goals with 18 total for the season. None was more important than the game winner in overtime during the ICCAC Championship game which sent the Tigers to the District Championship. Vacas is the first Tiger selected as a 1st Team NJCAA All-American since Rafael Pereira in 2015.
"Rafa Vacas has been a go-to player for us since he arrived as a freshman, however he took on a bigger role this season, as not only was he providing opportunities for his teammates, he was also finishing plays that his teammates created, hence his incredible numbers. While extremely talented, his contribution to this team was the result of his incredible work ethic," Martinez stated of Vacas.
Serrano, the Tiger goalkeeper, earned a 3rd team NJCAA nod. Serrano was phenomenal between the pipes this season for the Tigers. Serrano started 16 games in goal and was an integral part of a Tiger defense that led the nation in goals against average. Serrano personally ended with a 0.54 goals against average, only allowing 9 goals while making 49 saves. He had 10 shutouts on the year including two in the National Tournament.
"I would like to highlight Joel Serrano's commitment to this program. Although he did not see a lot of playing time as a freshman, he stated his desire to come back for his sophomore season and worked tirelessly to make sure he could be a big contributor this year. His amazing talent, work ethic and commitment to his team have resulted in a very deserving recognition as one of the best goalkeepers in the country," Martinez said of Serrano.
Ramos was selected to the 1st team NSCAA All-America squad. He was also named to the ICCAC 1st team. Ramos anchored the nation's best defense, playing all positions on the back line over the course of the season. The defense only allowed 11 goals all season, none in the National Tournament. In addition to his defensive efforts, Ramos also chipped in two goals and had an assist, and buried the winning penalty kick in the District Championship to send the team to the National Tournament.
"I define Rafael Ramos as "the coach on the field", as he has an incredible influence in the way this team responds to challenges presented during our games. His tactical understanding is demonstrated both in the way he plays, but also in the way the team is organized around him. I am very thankful that the committee has noticed that players like Rafa need to be recognized regardless of what statistics show, proving that this beautiful game is played with your head, not with your feet," Martinez said regarding Ramos.