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As we approach this website’s first anniversary, the Turf and Boards is proud to present the first annual Boards Awards in recognition of excellence in the Major Arena Soccer League. The 2017/18 Boards Awards will include Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and, finally, Most Valuable Player. Rather than picking one definitive winner in each category, our panel of Matt Huber (aka Merlin, the Knight Writer), Greg “Ponto” Suttie (Sockers Locker, Ponto Off the Wall) and Sydney Nusinov will each weigh in with their own choices for each award. Plus we want to hear from you in our poll.

Matt Huber, Knight Writer

We saw a lot of great rookie seasons in the MASL this year. Philip Lund scored 17 goals and assisted on three more to help Tacoma to a playoff berth, Rainer Hauss stepped in after Brett Petricek left the team and went 6-6 with a GAA of less than 6.00, while helping his team, the Cedar Rapids Rampage, to a ticket to the playoffs. For my El Paso Coyotes fans, I have to also give a nod to Hugo Puentes, who led all rookies in scoring with 28 goals, which puts him 7th in the MASL. But, my vote is going to Adrien Perez from Ontario. Perez dazzled the Fury crowd with 27 goals and 12 assists, putting him at 39 points. Here are some interesting facts:

–          Perez’s 27 goals would put him 2nd in the Pacific Division, only behind Kraig Chiles and his 38 goals. He outscored the likes of Tony Donatelli and Vini Dantas of the Blast, Tacoma’s Nick Perera, and Marcio Leite of the Milwaukee Wave.

–          This was over a span of 18 games, putting his PPG average at a 2.2, which is tied for 10th in the MASL. Gordy Gurson also has a 2.2 PPGA, while players such as Max Ferdinand of the Wave, Kenardo Forbes of the Syracuse Silver Knights, and Freddy Moojen are hovering around the 1.5 to 2.0 PPGA range.

–          Perez didn’t just feed off of the teams with losing records. In games against playoff teams, he scored 11 goals and assisted on eight, which is roughly half of his point total.

Greg Ponto Suttie, Sockers Locker

My choice for Rookie of the Year would be Adrien Perez of the Ontario Fury. He may have something of an unfair advantage in my judgment because I have seen him play in person a number of times. But not only does he have success on the offensive side of the ball, he also has been a strong force defensively. His energy and speed add to his presence on the field. In the games I have seen him play, he was a player that commanded the concern of the opposition.

Sydney Nusinov, Turf and Boards Publisher

The MASL produced a nice crop of first year talent this season, but the Rookie of the Year Award really comes down to three players: Ontario’s Adrien Perez, El Paso’s Hugo Puentes, and Monterrey’s Edgar Gonzalez.

Though low on the radar, playing for the Coyotes, Puentes led all rookies with 28 goals and was a key reason El Paso improved from 0-20 to 11-11 this season.

“Torres” Gonzalez actually tied for the 20-2 Flash’s team lead in scoring with 36 points and he led them with 26 goals.

But it was Perez who burst onto the scene at the end of December and caught the eye of the league. Perez led all rookies with 39 points in 18 games despite going scoreless in his first three games. Once he scored his first goal on December 10, he reeled off a 14-game goal scoring streak that included nine multi-goal games.  He started the year with Ontario Fury II and scored an additional 11 points in three games there before being recalled to the Fury. The 22-year old’s electric play has Fury fans anxiously awaiting his sophomore season. Adrien Perez has my vote for 2017/18 MASL Rookie of the Year.