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 YearCoach 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.

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Matt Huber, Knight Writer

Out of all of the awards we are selecting, Goalkeeper of the Year is the toughest to choose from. To be honest, there are so many good candidates. So, let’s break down each one.

–          The duo of Chris Toth and Boris Pardo, arguably the best goalie tandem in the MASL, are 1-2 in GAA with a combined 3.75. They also have a save percentage of .750, stopping 243 shots, which would put them towards the upper echelon when it comes to ranking. And of course, we have to mention, they put up a remarkable 19 wins for the Sockers.

–          The next tandem that I will look at is William Vanzela and Joey Kapinos of the Baltimore Blast. This tandem was brought about due to the injury of Vanzela. Without Vanzela in net, Kapinos fared pretty well, going 6-3 with a 5.23 GAA, and stopping 103 shots. Vanzela went 10-2 with a 4.18 GAA and a .770 save percentage, both within the Top 5 of all goaltenders in the MASL.

–          Josh Lemos of the Milwaukee Wave provided both offense and defense this season. He led all goaltenders in wins with 16, and finished 7th in GAA with a 5.52. On the offensive side, Lemos led all goaltenders in goals (3), assists (10), and points (13).

–          It wouldn’t be a discussion if I didn’t throw my own team into the mix. Andrew Coughlin of the Syracuse Silver Knights should be put into this discussion as well. Coughlin went 13-3, and finished in the Top 10 in all major categories; 8th in GAA with a 5.63, 5th in save percentage with a .691, and first in total saves with 277.

–          Diego Reynoso of the Monterrey Flash should receive some votes as well, due to his 15 wins, and a .672 save percentage, which is good for 9th in the MASL.

So, who gets the award? I feel like pulling a stunt from Mean Girls (yes, I’ve watched that movie), and break the award up into seven pieces, and give each one a part of it. But, I can’t.

William Vanezla gets my vote for Goalkeeper Of The Year. He was forced out of the box due to a torn abductor tendon, so his number of games was lower than most. With Toth and Pardo, their reps were split evenly, not because of any injuries. Before his injury, Vanzela lit up the MASL, stopping almost 80% of his shots, which is quite an accomplishment. I also want to give some credit to Kapinos. He started the season with no team, and was called upon to fill a huge pair of turf shoes. In William’s absence, he made sure the Blast stayed in first during the regular season, and helped them win their first round match-up against a tough Syracuse team.

I have so much respect for all of these goalies and their accomplishments this season, but, Vanzela stands out for me this year.

Greg Suttie, Sockers Locker

There has been a ton of discussion on this subject. Most of it stemming from the natural considerations that certain goalkeepers have logged less than a full season in the net. In William Vanzela’s case it was due to injury and Joey Kapinos came in and carried the Blast into the playoffs, the #3 seed and the Eastern Division title.

Both Joey and William are among the Top 6 keepers in the league in terms of their GAA. The other four men in the Top 6 are Diego Reynoso and Juan de Dios Ibarra from the Monterrey Flash and Chris Toth and Boris Pardo with the San Diego Sockers.

Traditionally, the goalkeeper with the lowest Goals Against Average was almost rubber stamped for the award. And last season the Sockers Chris Toth was given the honor after playing roughly half of the season so the precedent is set already.

But if the bigger picture is to eliminate a keeper for playing half the season, that takes out of consideration the six top keepers from the three top teams. That would grossly compromise the integrity of the award. Clearly, the idea of having a tandem goalkeeper roster works when it is applied correctly. If any given team chooses to sign a single goalkeeper, good for them. But to remove the keepers from every team that either chooses to go with a split season, or like Baltimore is forced to, is irreconcilable.

All that said.

The #1 ‘keeper during the regular season, in terms of GAA was the Sockers Boris Pardo. He posted a 9-1 record with GAA of 3.70.

The #2 goalkeeper during than regular season was the Sockers Chris Toth. He posted a 10-2 record with GAA of 3.80.

No other ‘keeper was under 4.00 GAA.

#3 William Vanzela of the Baltimore Blast posted a 10-2 record with GAA of 4.18.

Chris Toth was named to the 2018 ALL-MASL First Team.

Boris Pardo was named to the 2018 ALL-MASL Third team.

There are a gathering of extraordinary goalkeepers in the MASL. Josh Lemos and Danny Waltman to name a couple of net minders that are always keeping their teams in the game.

Having to choose one goalkeeper and being entirely incapable of reconciling that if a majority of the season is required because it would eliminate this season’s best teams and best keepers from consideration out of hand, I am forced to present Boris Pardo as my choice of MASL Goalkeeper of the Year. Had I been looking at all the same numbers at the beginning of the season I might have leaned towards Chris Toth. But it is clear during the flow the game and in the results, the Sockers are equally as confident with either one in the net.

There are those that would attempt to accuse me of going with my team. If I am to endure that nonsense to make the correct call, so be it. If the results across the body of work reflected a better season, I would have no problem selecting a ‘keeper from outside San Diego.

Zoltan Toth and Victor Melendez have put together the best goalkeeping program in the Major Arena Soccer League. Together, the Sockers goalkeeping tandem covers the entire season and still out performs the entire rest of the league. So perhaps Zollie the Goalie would be willing to accept the award on behalf of the only logical choice. Either one or both of the San Diego Sockers goalies.

Sydney Nusinov, Turf and Boards Publisher

This year’s pool of candidates presents a dilemma. There are three goalkeeper with sparkling numbers, but maybe not enough minutes played to qualify, depending on your point-of-view. Then you have three bulldog goalkeepers who anchored their teams to success, but who lack eye-popping Goals Against Averages.

I had the honor of crafting the Cedar Rapids Rampage’s ballot for this year’s MASL postseason awards, and I didn’t have Chris Toth, Boris Pardo, or William Vanzela on my First, Second or Third Teams.

In the past I had been reluctant to buy into the Vanzela hype. Because of the Blast’s defensive system, Vanzela would regularly be called on to make less than 10 saves a game. That changed this year when the Blast moved to the high-scoring confines of SECU Arena. Vanzela became a lot more involved in the action and had to face both a higher volume of shots and an increased difficulty of the scoring chances coming his way. I was ready to give him the award and then he got hurt and missed the Blast’s final nine games, wiping out over 40% of his season.

As for the other two part-timers I think you could make a case that Toth and Pardo are the co-Goalkeepers of the Year. But you either have to choose them together or not at all. There is virtually no daylight between them statistically or record-wise. But keep in mind these three goalies only appear 11th (Vanzela), 15th (Toth), and 16th (Pardo) in the league in minutes played.

Eliminating them, Josh Lemos, Diego Reynoso and Andrew Coughlin were the top three goalkeepers in wins and were all in the Top 7 in minutes played. Coughlin was one of only two goalkeepers to start all 22 games.

Reynoso was 15-2 with a 5.06 GAA, but his back-up goalkeeper, Juan Di Dios Ibarra, fared even better at 5-0 with a 4.42 GAA.

Coughlin was a dependable stalwart for a Syracuse team that exceeded expectations to go 13-9. Coughlin went 13-7 with a 5.63 GAA, which was 8th in the MASL, and he would be 6th if the MASL’s stats system didn’t count Ibarra and Joey Kapinos, who didn’t have enough minutes to qualify.

In terms of value, though, no goalkeeper was more valuable than Josh Lemos, my selection for Goalkeeper of the Year. Lemos went 16-5 with a 5.52 GAA. If you take out the two games on the Wave’s disastrous Mexico trip, he would be 16-3 with a 4.61 GAA.  In addition to his shot-stopping, Lemos led all goalkeepers with an unbelievable three goals and 10 assists. Lemos started the first 21 games of the season before missing three games with a shoulder injury. In just his second year Lemos has established himself as a worthy heir to the Wave’s goalkeeper legacy that had been dominated by Victor Nogueira, Nick Vorberg and Marcel Feenstra since 1992.