Mar. 1, 2021
LA MIRADA, Calif. --- Biola Men's Soccer earned its first Golden State Athletic Conference championship in 13 years so it seems only natural that the historic conference season is capped with Biola sweeping all of the major conference awards.
It was announced late Monday night that senior midfielder Joey O'Keefe was named the conference player of the year, junior forward Leo Contreras was named conference newcomer of the year and Head Coach Todd Elkins earned his first conference coach of the year honors.
These awards come after a season that saw Biola clinch the regular season championship by one point over No. 13 The Master's College. The No. 11 Eagles finished 8-1-1 in conference play and have a 12-4-1 overall record to this point in the season.
In addition to the individual conference honors four Eagles were selected to the All-GSAC team presented by Under Armour. O'Keefe and Contreras led the way and were joined by John Hanscom and Kousei Mattox, a senior and a freshman.
O'Keefe earned conference player of the year for the first time and brings home his third all-conference honors of his four-year Biola career. It's the third year in a row he's represented Biola on the all-conference team.
He goes into postseason play with a team-best 23 points after a season with nine goals and five assists. The 23 points are a new career high, besting his 21 points in 19 matches during his sophomore season.
"I am so happy for Joey, because this is well deserved for him," said Elkins. "A lot is asked of him, probably more than is asked of any other player on this team. He's asked to give all of himself on the offensive side and the defensive side. He works hard, leads well and does everything a good player needs to do. He loves his teammates, cares deeply for them and the guys respond well to him because of how hard he works."
Contreras had an explosive first season with the Eagles after taking a long journey to get on the pitch in the red, black and white for coach Elkins. He's been with the team for almost two years, but had to wait in order to get on the pitch in matches.
As soon as he finally was able to suit up for the Eagles his presence was felt immediately. The junior forward has a physical style of play that was the key to unlocking Biola's offense in the 15 matches he appeared in this year. He ended up second on the team with 22 points (8 G, 6 A).
"Leo is a unique player that is probably one of the toughest players for defenders, and even groups of defenders, to try to handle and get the ball from," said Elkins. "He's very good and keeping the ball in attacking areas and he's been a handful for other teams. He can free himself up, but he is also very good at finding one of his teammates that is opened up when he draws extra defenders. He's been huge for our attack this year and I am so happy for him."
John Hanscom is a four-year player who has had a tremendous career at Biola and quickly become one of the Eagles' most beloved players on the pitch. He's a dangerous attacker that is also skilled in set pieces and setting up his teammates. He earned his first two weekly conference honors this season and concludes the regular season of his senior year with his first all-conference honor.
Hanscom ended the season with 14 points (5 G, 4 A), and 12 of those 14 points came in conference play where he dominated the rest of the league and helped the Eagles to the success they experienced.
"John has had a great year. It comes off a year I think was disappointing for him last year so he was really looking to prove to his team he could live up to expectations," said Elkins. "He helps us in so many ways because he really is multi-faceted. He does it from either the wide areas or by coming into the central areas of the field. This season he put together all those areas and has been a threat, which is what makes him so important to us."
The Eagles' final all conference player earns the honor in his freshman year and first year playing soccer back in the United States. Mattox played the role of defensive midfielder for coach Elkins and logged 1,449 minutes for Biola, which was second only to sophomore defender Riley Waldeck.
Mattox also ended up with two goals and three assists, including a game-winning goal against CSU San Marcos that was among the top-3 most memorable moments of the season.
"Kousei is mature beyond his years. He is so comfortable on the ball and is also a good defender," said Elkins. "Whether he is playing a defensive midfield role or as a marking back he helps us in both areas of the ball. In that area of the field where you usually give up one facet for the other, but with Kousei you get both. He's been trained well growing up and really brings that sharp student-like attitude to training. He's a guy that the coaches and his teammates can count on day in and day out."
Lastly, all the talent on the field means nothing without the right leader in place to guide the team through its successes and times of struggle. This season coach Elkins did a masterful job of leading his troops and was rewarded with his first conference coach of the year honor.
"It's an honor to be voted for this by the other coaches," said Elkins. "Especially considering the milestone years that some other coaches with much more experience than me had."
Elkins wins the award in his third year as the head coach of the men's side. It was his first season being able to focus solely on the men's side without head coaching responsibilities on the women's side as well.
"I think coach Elkins represents everything we want a coach to represent at Biola," said Athletic Director Dr. Dave Holmquist. "He leads his life in an exemplary way. His practices are excellent. His priorities are in the right place and he's a very fine person and a very fine coach. He's done a great job with that program and I'm so happy he's been selected as the coach of the year."
Biola Men's Soccer continues its season at 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 12 when it will face the lowest remaining seed among No. 6 Hope International, No. 5 San Diego Christian or No. 4 The Master's in the GSAC Tournament Semifinals.
Assistant Director of Media Relations and Strategic Communication
Senior Director of University Communications
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