On Monday, USC Upstate standout midfielder Marvin Schmiege was named the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year for his excellence in the classroom. On Tuesday, he was named the A-Sun Player of the Year for his excellence on the field, the first Upstate player to earn the award from the A-Sun in program history.
In addition to Schmiege’s honor, Heiko Allmendinger and Lukas Sommer were named to the A-Sun All-Freshman team.
Schmiege, a junior from Berlin, Germany, has made his share of history at Upstate this season. He broke the school’s Division I era records for career goals and points and enters the A-Sun Tournament with 13 career goals and 32 career points. He also has broken the Division I era school records for goals in a season with nine and points in a season with 20.
Schmiege became the first men’s soccer player to earn A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors and is now the first player in the history of the program to earn player of the year honors from the A-Sun. It marks the first time since Gary Lynch earned player of the year honors in the Peach Belt Conference (NCAA Division II) in 2004 that a Spartan has been named a conference player of the year in men’s soccer. In addition to earning player of the year honors, he was one of two unanimous selections for A-Sun First Team All-Conference accolades after earning second team all-league honors last year.
“I am just so happy and grateful. I don’t even know what to say right now,” said Schmiege with an exuberant expression on his face. “I could not have done this without my teammates. It is all about the team…this is awesome. (Earning player of the year honors was) not even thought about at all (at the start of the season). You just want to do the best you can and help the team. It all worked out, it’s perfect. Making the (A-Sun) tournament helped a lot, definitely. If we wouldn’t have made it, I don’t think I would have gotten the award.”
To say that Schmiege has put the team on his back down the stretch is an understatement. He currently leads the A-Sun with nine goals and 0.64 goals per game, is tied for the conference lead with three game-winning goals in four Upstate wins, and is second with 20 points and 1.43 points per match. He ranks 13th in the nation in goals per game and 18th in points per match. At one point during the season, he scored six straight goals for the Spartans including both game winners in wins over Northern Kentucky and Jacksonville to secure Upstate’s spot in the A-Sun Tournament as the No. 5 seed. His efforts have also helped the Spartans tie the Division I era team record for goals in a season, entering the A-Sun Tournament with 21.
Schmiege owns a 4.0 GPA as a Business Administration major in the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics. He earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors and is a nominee for Academic All-America.
“To have a guy who has been determined by the coaches in the league to be the best in the league is great for him and it is great for our program,” said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. “The University, the team and Marvin will all benefit from this recognition. I think the number of big goals he scored helped him. To be able to score important goals, game-winning goals, is an indication of how important he is to the program. I wouldn’t say that Marvin is the only reason why we are in the A-Sun Tournament, and neither would Marvin say that, but he certainly was an integral part of us getting in.
“We are the fifth seed and battled to get into the tournament. I think that fact that we weren’t the No. 1 seed makes it more impressive what he has done. It helped that our team had success down the stretch and I think it highlighted what he did.”
Allmendinger and Sommer have been key players throughout the season for Upstate and also helped lead the Spartans into the A-Sun Tournament. Allmendinger has been a steady presence in the midfield and ranks tied for fourth on the team in scoring with five points on two goals and an assist. He has played in all 14 matches, 12 as a starter. He assisted on Schmiege’s game winner against Northern Kentucky and added an insurance goal against Jacksonville. Sommer was a staunch defender for the Spartans and helped the defensive unit record three shutouts on the year. He picked up one assist on the year in Upstate’s 2-0 victory at VMI.
“I am really proud of Heiko and Lukas for being recognized as top freshmen in our conference,” said Hooks. “They are part of a group of freshmen that helped lead us and helped us get into the A-Sun Tournament. I am excited that their efforts were recognized and awarded.”
Upstate will open play in the A-Sun Tournament Wednesday night at 8:00 Eastern when the fifth-seeded Spartans take on No. 4 seed North Florida in the second first round game of the tournament. The winner of the match will take on No. 1 seed and host Lipscomb (Nashville, Tenn.) Friday at 8:00.
There were five major individual awards given out by the A-Sun in addition to the first and second team all-conference picks and the all-freshman team selections. Lipscomb’s Luke Gearin was named the A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year and North Florida’s Kyle Nasta was named the Goalkeeper of the Year. Lipscomb’s Ivan Alvarado earned A-Sun Freshman of the Year honors, while Stetson’s Ernie Yarborough was named the Coach of the Year.