Nov. 8, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- UAB senior forward Babayele Sodade was the lone Blazer represented on the Conference USA First Team, which was announced by the league office on Tuesday. Sodade, who earns his first-ever first team honor, headlines a total of six UAB players who were honored on various teams by a vote of the league's head coaches.
In addition to Sodade's recognition, senior goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski and junior defender Reed Matte were named to the second team, while junior defender Mladen Lemez garnered third team honors. Additionally, forward Diego Navarrete and defender Darion Copeland were each selected to the league's all-freshman team.
"I'm pleased that the coaches from around the league have recognized the talents of these young men," UAB head coach Mike Getman said. "Our whole team has had a great season so far and these players certainly deserve the recognition."
The six Blazers earning postseason accolades ties for the third-most individual postseason conference awards in a single season in program history. The record is nine individual awards which came in 2001.
Sodade has had a tremendous final season for the Green and Gold. The Windsor, Ontario native enters the conference tournament this week leading the team in goals (12), assists (5), shots (44) and points (29). He was named to the league's second team, as well as the NSCAA all-district second team, in each of the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, three UAB defensive players were named to the second and third teams this season. The Blazer defense led all league squads in goals allowed (17), goals against average (0.90), total saves (80) and shutouts (6).
Matte had a stellar season for the back line, as he leads the team in minutes played, having not missed a minute of UAB's 18 matches on the year. In addition to his strong play in the back, Matte also tallied a pair of game-winning goals to defeat then-No. 20 VCU and Kentucky.
Lemez also had a strong year, starting every game at center back for the league's top defensive unit. In addition to winning a majority of contested headers, he has used his 6-5 frame to tally four goals and nine points (4g, 1a) this season, both of which rank second on the team.
For the first time in 10 years, two Blazers were selected as all-freshman performers in Navarrete and Copeland. The last time that happened was when former standouts Clint Baumstark and Rogerio de Oliveira earned the honor in 2001.
Navarrete finished the year tied with Lemez for second on the team with four goals, while Copeland played an important role as a central defender in the Blazers' back line. Copeland also scored the game-winning tally in the 1-0 win at then-No. 15 SMU.
UAB, which earned a share of the Conference USA regular-season title, earned a first round bye and the No. 2 overall seed in the 2011 Conference USA Tournament, which will be played in Tulsa, Okla., starting on Wednesday. The Blazers will not play until Friday's semifinals at 7:30 p.m. CT, when they take on the winner of third-seeded UCF and No. 6 seed Memphis.
UAB, ranked No. 16 in the nation, enters the event as one of the hottest teams in the country, riding an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1). As a result, the Blazers earned their first C-USA regular season championship since 1999, finishing the year with a 6-1-1 record in league play and a 12-3-3 overall mark. South Carolina, which also finished with a 6-1-1 record against conference competition, earned the tournament's No. 1 overall seed as a result of its 1-0 win over UAB on Oct. 4 - the last loss for the Blazers.