Nov. 16, 2010
BERKELEY - California's A.J. Soares was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, Golden Bears head coach Kevin Grimes earned his unprecedented fifth Pac-10 Coach of the Year award and six Bears claimed spots on the All-Pac-10 teams, conference commissioner Larry Scott announced on Tuesday. David Bingham, Servando Carrasco, Hector Jimenez and Davis Paul joined Soares on the All-Pac-10 first team, while Steve Birnbaum earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention.
In the 2010 season, Grimes led the Bears to a 12-2-3 record (8-1-1 in the Pac-10), the Pac-10 championship, an automatic berth into the postseason and a No. 6 seed and first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament. He also picked up the Pac-10 Coach of the Year award in 2002 and each year from 2005-07. No other coach has earned the Pac-10 award more than twice.
A senior defender and co-captain, Soares marshaled a stingy Cal backline that allowed just 13 goals during the regular season. He was also a key contributor on the offensive end, posting career highs in points (11) and goals (5) and scoring the game-winning goal in a 3-0 victory over San Diego State on Oct. 15. He also converted one of Cal's two penalty kicks this year. This is his third All-Pac-10 honor, as the native of Solana Beach, Calif., earned a spot on the first team in 2009 and on the second team in 2008. He started all but one game for Cal in 2010.
Soares is Cal's fourth Pac-10 Player of the Year. Former Bear Andrew Jacobson was the co-honoree in 2007, forward Calen Carr garnered the award in 2005 and goalkeeper Josh Saunders earned the Pac-10 prize in 2002.
Bingham, a junior goalkeeper, played every minute (1,678 minutes and 41 seconds) in the Cal net so far this season and compiled the Pac-10's best goals-against average (0.70, ranked 16th nationally), save percentage (.890, 3rd nationally), saves (105) and saves per game (6.18, 4th nationally). This is the second All-Pac-10 team honor for the Pleasanton, Calif., product, who earned a spot on the second team last year.
Carrasco and Jimenez are both senior midfielders and co-captains for the Bears. A product of San Diego, Carrasco posted career highs in points (15) and goals (6), converted one of Cal's penalty kicks and started 17 out of 17 games this season. He enters the postseason having scored one goal in each of Cal's last two games. This is Carrasco's third All-Pac-10 team selection, after claiming second-team honors in each of the past two years.
One of the best playmakers in Cal's long history, Jimenez ranks second on the program's all-time assist list with 27 career assists. This year, Jimenez posted two goals, five assists and nine points and also scored the golden goal against Washington in a 2-1 double overtime victory on Oct. 31. This is the third straight All-Pac-10 first-team selection for the Bell Gardens, Calif., product, who has started all 17 games in 2010.
A senior forward, Paul ended the regular season as the Pac-10 leader in points (career-high 27, 19th nationally), points per game (1.59, 14th nationally), assists (career-high 13, 5th nationally), assists per game (0.76, 3rd nationally) and game-winning goals (career-high 4). Paul's total of 13 assists sets a single-season school assist record of 13, breaking the former record of 12 set by alumnus Peter Woodring.
He also ranks third in goals (career-high 7, 87th nationally) and goals per game (0.41, 82nd nationally) in the conference. The Upland, Calif., native scored his gamewinners against Indiana in the 2-1 double overtime season opener on Sept. 3, in a 3-0 blanking of UNLV on Sept. 12, in a 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 24 at UCLA, and in a 2-1 double overtime victory over Oregon State on Oct. 29. He started all 17 games this year.
Birnbaum, a sophomore, paired with Soares as a central back in what was arguably the Pac-10's best defense. From Irvine, Calif., Birnbaum tallied career highs in points (9), goals (1) and assists (5). He scored his first career goal in Cal's 2-2 tie with Denver on Sept. 24 and collected his first career assist in a 3-0 win over UNLV on Sept. 12. An important contributor mostly off the bench as a freshman, Birnbaum started all 17 games in his second season.
Cal, ranked No. 5 and No. 6 in various national polls this week, will host a second-round NCAA Tournament match against either Denver or UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 1:30 p.m. at Edwards Stadium. Denver and UCSB will play their NCAA Tournament first-round match at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, in Santa Barbara, Calif.