PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Several post-season honors have been given to members of the Plymouth State College men's soccer team following the Panthers' outstanding 1998 campaign.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America announced its All-New England and All-America Teams, and Plymouth State was well-represented on both units, with five All-New England and two All-America selections. In addition, PSC's head coach Shawn Griffin was named NSCAA New England Coach of the Year.
Plymouth State's two All-Americans in 1998 are senior goalkeeper Shawn Higgins (Foxboro, MA) and junior midfielder Kevin Martin (Foxboro, MA), who were both Second Team selections. Higgins and Martin were joined by senior forward Jesse Elderkin (Concord, NH) on the All-New England First Team, while senior midfielder Danny Gilbertson (London, England) and freshman sweeper Magnus Erikkson (Karlstad, Sweden) were All-New England Second Team choices.
These players were all instrumental in PSC's outstanding season in 1998. The Panthers put together a 16-0-2 regular season and were ranked #3 in the Division III national poll, earning its third NCAA Tournament berth in four years. PSC hosted the New England regional, and advanced to the regional final before falling to Williams and finishing 17-1-2 overall and #11 in the final national poll. The Panthers also captured their third straight LEC title and extended their winning streak in conference games to 16.
Higgins had a sensational year as the Panther goalkeeper. A transfer from Central Connecticut, Higgins played forward for PSC in '97 before taking over between the pipes this fall. He registered nine shutouts and was the starting keeper in three other team shutouts, allowing just nine goals in nearly 1800 minutes of soccer. A First Team All-Conference pick, Higgins posted a razor-thin 0.46 goals against average, which led the Little East Conference. In fact, he was ranked third in the nation in goals against (0.38) before surrendering three goals to Williams in the NCAA Regional final.
Martin was a dominant midfielder in his first full season of college soccer in three years. A transfer from the University of Massachusetts, Martin sat out in '96 then suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the '97 campaign. He patrolled the Panther midfield, offensively and defensively, and was often the best player on the field. Martin contributed five goals and a team-leading eight assists to the offense, including two key assists in the NCAA tournament.
Elderkin capped on a superb senior season with his first All-New England honor. Elderkin was the Little East Conference Player of the Year after scoring a team-leading 16 goals and 36 points. He was an offensive powerhouse, and he won LEC weekly honors three times this season. He had three multiple-goal games, including a hat trick at Southern Maine. Elderkin also came up with some huge goals for the Panthers, including game-winners over St. Anselm, RPI, and Eastern Connecticut, and key scores against Keene State, Wheaton, and Williams in the NCAA Tournament. He finishes his career with 26 goals, nine assists and 61 points in 65 matches.
Gilbertson completed an outstanding four-year career in fine fashion with the All-New England honor. A three-time All-Little East Conference selection, Gilbertson was a three-year captain of the Panthers and was an excellent midfielder and defender. He was also a strong offensive threat, as evidenced by his three goals and five assists this season. Gilbertson was a terrific all-around asset to the program, on and off the field, and he finished with career totals of 70 games, 17 goals, 12 assists and 46 points.
Erikkson turned in a credible freshman campaign as PSC's sweeper to earn All-New England accolades. He was the last man on the Panther defense that shut out 12 opponents and didn't allow more than one goal in a game until the last match of the season. Eriksson was also a Little East Conference All-Star, one of seven Panthers on the First Team.
The outstanding season for the Panthers was orchestrated by Griffin, who has quietly re-established Plymouth State as one of the top Division III men's soccer programs in the country. A four-time Little East Conference Coach of the Year ('93, '95, '97, '98), Griffin has guided PSC to an 80-37-10 record (.669) and five post-season berths in his seven years at PSC. He had led PSC to three NCAA Tournaments in the last four years, and the Panthers have been ranked #10 and #11 the last two years in final Division III national polls. As New England Regional Coach of the Year, Griffin is a finalist for the Division III National Coach of the Year, which will be announced at the NSCAA national convention in January.
-- 30 --