FC Buffalo announces awards; gearing up for '11

Grabowski (2) and Stevens (far right) among those honored

With college soccer approaching, FC Buffalo has announced their yet-to-be-titled inaugural season awards, voted on by the players, coaches and staff after the Blitzers’ 6-2-4 campaign.

Voters were asked to give their top three candidates for Most Valuable Player, Best Defensive Player, Best Offensive Player and Unsung Hero. To the credit of the boys, almost every player was named in the process.

It’s no major surprise that team captain and All-Star midfielder Daniel Stevens was adjudged to be the squad’s Most Valuable Player. Stevens’ 13 points tied for the team lead with Mike Unwin, while he lead the team in assists (3) and finished second in goals (5).

“Dan was everything we needed as a first-year club, both in on-field and in-locker room leadership,” said FC Buffalo co-owner Nick Mendola. “Any club would be blessed to have a player of his ilk. He understood what we were trying to build and did all he could to help.”

Of the four award winners, only one didn’t have a connection the University at Buffalo. Edging out Scott Zorn, Kieron Gradwell and Kyle Westerholt by one vote for the Unsung Hero Award was Fredonia State’s John Grabowski. The never-say-die hustle and terrific two-way instincts of the midfielder were a boon to FC Buffalo, and Grabowski’s offensive efforts were rewarded with two assists on the year. Nine players earned at least one vote in the Unsung Hero Award, and the fans also were counted once.

The award for Best Offensive Player was hotly-contested and came down to Stevens and another Buffalo product. The team’s leading goal scorer laid claim to the title. Fan-favorite Rich Wilson earned the nod. His six-point, three-goal game against FC Reading Revolution is a single-game record that will stand for a while.

On the other end of the pitch, eight players were in the mix for the Best Defensive Player Award. Goalkeeper and NPSL All-Star Dan Panaro finished third in the voting, with stalwart center back Kieron Gradwell finishing with the most first-place votes, but the second-most overall points. Mbwana Johnson got himself the honors, capping off a season of irreplaceable play with a much-deserved honor.

The Supporters’ Choice Award was fit to be tied. Over 1,200 people weighed in, and when the ballots hit their deadline, Stevens and defender Eric Steinmetz merited the honors.

The FC Buffalo staff is now gearing up for 2011 with some exciting Fall events and a number of other soon-to-be announced details, including how to win season tickets for life! Check back later this week!