College Sports

Loewy does blue-collar job for Eagles

Otto Loewy wins a header.
Otto Loewy wins a header.

Winthrop's Otto Loewy doesn't play soccer for the glory. He doesn't play for the adoration normally reserved for the goal-scorers. And he's definitely not into statistics.

That approach might be different if the 5-foot-10 junior played forward. Loewy doesn't.

Loewy is a defender -- the blue-collar job that goes unnoticed by the casual fan.

But every Big South Conference coach, player and knowledgeable fan who will be in Rock Hill for today's opening round of the Big South Tournament knows just how important Loewy and guys like him are to team success.

"It's definitely not a glory position," Loewy said. "You don't get stats on anything but tackles. You don't get a stat for a good defensive play, or block, or when you head the ball out or getting the ball to someone in scoring position.

"Stats don't tell you that. Stats tell you that it was 1-0 or 2-0 or 3-0 and guys like Saidi (Isaac), Daniel (Revivo) or Stephen (Nsereko) scored this many goals, not Otto defended this many people, or headed the ball away from the goal or blocked this many shots."

His play got noticed in the season-opening Winthrop Classic in the form of the MVP award.

"I was the most surprised person on the field when they announced it," Loewy said. "It's normally a forward, midfielder or goalie that gets that type of award."

Loewy, who moved from Liberia to the United States as a 2-year-old, is a natural midfielder according to Eagles coach Rich Posipanko and would be starting tonight's match against High Point at that position if circumstances allowed.

"We needed him at defender," Posipanko said. "He's a physically tough player, he's a hard tackler and he distributes the ball well.

"Otto's been our most consistent player ... he's been our best player."

That consistency and play earned the marketing major from Norcross, Ga., a spot on the All-Big South second team. Last year he earned a first-team spot after scoring four goals and dishing three assists from the midfield spot.

Loewy's transition from attacking midfielder to defense over the last two years has reflected in his offensive statistics. In 2005, he took 29 shots, scored a goal and handed out four assists. Last year his total number of shots dipped by 12 but he had four goals.

This season, Loewy has taken just six shots and has no goals or assists. But his contributions have been key, Posipanko said.

Loewy takes a great deal of pride in the cohesiveness of the defensive unit that has allowed just 12 goals -- best in the Big South -- this season.

"Guys like Steven in the midfield try to make sure the ball doesn't get by them," Loewy said. "If it gets past them, then our job is making sure they don't get a run or shot at the goal. If it gets past us, then it's Patrick Mitrovich's job to keep it from getting to the back of the net."

Nsereko, last season's Big South freshman of the year and a first-team selection this year, calls Loewy one of the best defenders he's ever played with.

"Otto and I play well together," Nsereko said. "He's one of the best defenders in the conference. He plays hard all the time."

Winthrop, the preseason No. 1 pick, posted a 10-3-1 record but a 3-2-1 mark in league play dropped the host Eagles to the third seed. The Eagles meet No. 6 High Point at 7 p.m. today.

"I feel good about our chances," Posipanko said. "I think all three of the first-day games are going to be very close. We just have to go out and play like we know we can."

• BIG SOUTH HONORS: The Big South all-conference honors are listed below.

FIRST TEAM

Saidi Isaac, F, Winthrop; Adrian Bumbut, F, Liberty; Daniel Revivo, F, Winthrop; Mkhokheli Dube, F, Coastal Carolina; Stephen Nsereko, MF, Winthrop; Kevin Van Den Berg, MF, Coastal Carolina; Juan Guzman, MF, Liberty; Franklin Elimbi, MF, Radford; John Gilkerson, D, Winthrop; Kyle Russell, D, Coastal Carolina; Mike Gelatt, D, Liberty; Paul Caruso, D, Radford; Patrick Mitrovich, GK, Winthrop

SECOND TEAM

Davorin Husadzinovic, F, Radford; Djamel Bekka, F, Coastal Carolina; Joshua Boateng, F, Liberty; Scott Szymanski, F, UNC Asheville; Otto Loewy, MF, Winthrop; Daniel McGarry, MF, Liberty; Scott Rojo, MF, High Point; Hilaire Babou, MF, High Point; Henry Kalungi, D, Winthrop; Douglas Nyame, D, Liberty; Edwin Wotortsi, D, UNC Asheville; Adam Hatem, D, High Point; Paul Gilbert, GK, Liberty

BScott Rojo, High Point; Paul Gilbert, Liberty; Miquel Casajuana, Winthrop; Matt Schroeder, Coastal Carolina; Brian Sowell, VMI; Kelly Porter, Coastal Carolina; James Leith, Radford; Adam Hatem, High Point; Michael Saryee, High Point; Zach Morgan, VMI; David Hill, VMI

ALL-ACADEMIC

Kevin Van Den Berg, Coastal Carolina; Cole Atkins, High Point; Mike Gelatt, Liberty; Paul Caruso, Radford; David Verga, UNC Asheville; Daniel Welsh, VMI; Ben Kieffner, Winthrop; John Odum, Presbyterian

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Mkhokheli Dube, Coastal Carolina

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Paul Gilbert, Liberty

COACH OF THE YEAR: Shaun Docking, Coastal Carolina

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Kevin Van Den Berg, Coastal Carolina

• GOLF COURSE: Because of this week's Big South soccer tournament, the Winthrop Golf Course will be closed all day today and Sunday.

The course will be open from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday. Regular operating hours will resume at 8 a.m. Monday.

BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT

All matches at Eagle Field

(All matches on streaming video)

Today

Match 1 - No. 4 Radford vs. No. 5 VMI, 1 p.m.

Match 2 - No. 2 Liberty vs. No. 7 UNC Asheville, 4 p.m.

Match 3 - No. 3 Winthrop vs. No. 6 High Point, 7 p.m.

Friday

Match 4 - No. 1 Coastal Carolina vs. Winner Match 1

Match 5 - Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3, 4 p.m.

Sunday

Championship - Winner Match 4 vs. Winner Match 5

• Note: To access streaming video, go to bigsouthsports.com, click on "The Edge" and follow instructions.

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