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07 / 18

Lansing United names 2017 season award winners

WRITTEN BY: Nick Barnowski
PUBLISHED ON: July 18, 2017

Lansing United held its annual post-season awards ceremony Tuesday, July 17, at the Harrison Roadhouse in East Lansing, Mich.

Following the club’s fourth National Premier Soccer League campaign, five United players took home six different awards during the 2017 season celebration:

Player of the Year – Rafa Mentzingen
Rafa Mentzingen took the NPSL by storm in his first season with Lansing United and earned Player of the Year honors. The speedy Brazilian scored nine goals in nine NPSL matches, which led the team and at one point saw him ranked first in the entire Midwest Region. Before a late-June injury unfortunately derailed the remainder of his season, Mentzingen had scored in the first six matches of 2017 and tallied three multi-goal games, which tied of the most in a single-season in club history. Four of his nine goals served as game-winners and at the time of his injury he led United in goals, shots and shots on goal. He sits third all-time in goals scored, tied for third in shots (35) and tied for fourth in shots on goal (14). He also became the third United player to ever win the NPSL’s National Player of the Week award, which he took home following his two-goal performance at Grand Rapids FC on June 10. 

Defensive Player of the Year – Nick Strack
In his first season with Lansing United, center back Nick Strack was a fixture on the team’s back line, providing leadership and showing passion in defending. Strack earned the start in eight of his nine appearances, helping lead Lansing to victory in five of those matches. He was also part of a back line that started the season with four consecutive clean sheets, which set a new club record. Despite injuries limiting his playing time near the end of the season, the Oakland University defender was still there to provide unwavering support for his team.

Unsung Player of the Year – Alec Greene
Alec Greene took home this year’s Unsung Player of the Year award, which was awarded to the player whose contributions might not show up consistently on the score sheet. The Holt native and four-year United player appeared in every match this season and extended his club record for consecutive games played to 26. Often tasked with playing the important and physically demanding role of wingback, Greene’s work ethic truly showed as he was relied upon to track back defensively while be an attacking threat down the flanks. Greene played the second most minutes of any midfielder — 808 — and tallied his first two assists in a Lansing uniform while firing eight shot attempts. In his United career, Greene ranks fourth in games played with 26, ninth in shots with 15 and seventh in minutes played with 1,415.

Pride, Passion, Unity Award – James DeCosemo
Awarded to the player who best displays the club’s motto of “pride, passion, unity,” captain James DeCosemo was a deserving winner this year. DeCosemo was named team captain prior to his fourth season with United, joining Matt Brown and Austin Dunn as the third player to sport the armband. Despite a lingering injury to his knee, DeCosemo played the second most minutes of any player on the team and led by example on and off the field. He set the club record for career appearances (43) and shot attempts (81) while chipping in with six goals, which ranked second on the team. A perennial focal point of the Lansing roster, DeCosemo also ranks second all-time in goals (13), shots on goal (33) and minutes played (2,818) and is third in assists with four. He tallied at least one shot attempt in 34 of his 43 career matches and had at least one shot in all 13 games he played in this season. 

Moment of the Year – Rafa Mentzingen’s second goal vs. AFC Ann Arbor
In the marquee home match of the 2017 season, Rafa Mentzingen provided the fireworks in United’s 2-0 victory over then-undefeated AFC Ann Arbor on May 26. He scored both of Lansing’s goals and his 88th-minute second strike was chosen as the club’s Moment of the Year. After Mentzingen pushed Lansing ahead with a goal in the third minute, the club hunkered down defensively and thwarted every Ann Arbor attack. Late in the second half, the Brazilian received a pass from Pedro Patino and turned an Ann Arbor defender inside out before firing it short-side past the keeper. His celebration, which saw him twirl his United hooped jersey in the air before jumping into a swarm of United fans in the stands, was a moment that will not be forgotten.

Supporters’ Player of the Year – Sammy Conti
Sammy Conti was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year, as voted on by Lansing United fans and the Sons of Ransom supporters group. The dual-threat defender and midfielder was counted on to play a variety of roles, including outside back and holding midfielder, and held a consistent spot in the team’s starting lineup. He played more minutes — an even 1,000 — than any other United player this season and featured in all but one NPSL match. He scored his first Lansing goal on July 7 at the Michigan Stars and tallied 10 shot attempts, the second most of any non-primarily attacking player on the roster.