Matt Besler received both the MVP and scholar-athlete awards for the 2008 season.

Five Fighting Irish Players Earn All-BIG EAST Honors

Nov. 13, 2008

TAMPA, Fla. – Five Notre Dame student-athletes received all-conference recognition at the annual BIG EAST men’s soccer awards banquet on Thursday evening. The Fighting Irish also were recognized for winning the BIG EAST Blue Division title.

Irish seniors Matt Besler, a defender, and Bright Dike, a forward, were named to the all-conference first team. Notre Dame has had at least two first-team all-BIG EAST picks in each of the past six seasons. Receiving second-team honors were senior defender Jack Traynor and junior midfielder Michael Thomas. Sophomore forward Jeb Brovsky was selected to the third team.

Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West), a team tri-captain, has played every possible minute this season in the central defense. Along with helping the Notre Dame defense post seven shutouts on the campaign, he also has notched three points on one goal and an assist. Overall, Besler has played in 84 straight games, including 66 consecutive starts, for the Irish. This marked his third all-BIG EAST accolade. Besler was named to the second team in each of the past two seasons.

Dike (Edmond, Okla./Edmond North), a starter in every match, has team-high totals in goals with 11 and points with 27. His five assists are tied for the team lead. The senior forward leads the BIG EAST in goals per game (0.58) and points per game (1.42). Dike has scored three game winners, including the lone goal in Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Louisville in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship on Nov. 8. Earlier this season, he posted a six-game goal streak with the Irish going 4-2 in that stretch. He has scored a goal in eight of Notre Dame’s 12 victories this season. This is the first all-conference selection for Dike.

For Traynor (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North), this was his third all-BIG EAST honor. He was a third-team pick last season and an honorable-mention choice in 2006. This season, he has started all 19 games at the left back position and has helped the Fighting Irish defense hold opponents to one goal or fewer in eight of the last nine contests, including each of the past six games. Traynor collected an assist on Brovsky’s game-winning goal in a 2-1 triumph of Georgetown on Oct. 29.

Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas) has been a dominant force in the Irish midfield. The junior is second on the team with eight goals and 20 points. He also has four assists. Thomas has started all 19 games and was a major reason why Notre Dame captured the BIG EAST regular-season crown for the second straight season, which is a program first. The midfielder ranks third in the conference in points per game (1.05) and fifth in goals per game (0.42). This was the first all-league accolade for Thomas.

Brovsky (Lakewood, Colo./Green Mountain) also received his first all-BIG EAST nod. The sophomore has started every match this season and has produced 15 points on five goals and five assists. He notched a career-high two goals in the win over Georgetown. Brovsky is a key contributor to an Irish offense that ranks first in the BIG EAST and 17th nationally by averaging 2.05 goals per game.

The major award winners of the night were Connecticut’s O’Brian White (offensive player of the year) along with St. John’s Joel Gustafsson (defensive player of the year) and Nelson Becerra (midfielder of the year), West Virginia’s Zach Johnson (goalkeeper of the year) and Louisville’s Colin Rolfe (rookie of the year). St. John’s, the champions of the BIG EAST Red Division, captured the coaching staff of the year behind head coach Dave Masur.

The ninth-ranked Fighting Irish will face No. 8 South Florida in the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Championship on Friday, Nov. 14 in Tampa, Fla. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at the USF Soccer/Track Stadium. The match can be seen live on CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV).