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Bull Run Awards - Day 4 recognizes UB's Coach, Rookie, and Clutch Moment of the Year

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UB Athletics

Here's where it gets fun. We've whittled down our awards for the best of each UB team this year, but the final two days of the week will see us put forward our Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Clutch Moment of the Year, Team of the Year, and Men's and Women's Sports Overall Bulls of the Year. Today, the first three.

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Coach of the Year - Shawn Burke

Shawn Burke - Coach of the Year

JM: This was a four horse race and a case could be made for any of the coaches nominated - three won MAC Championships, two were named MAC Coach of the Year, and one coached UB's first individual Division I National Champion. For me, Burke just barely edges out Garnham and Hurley for a couple of reasons. What sets Burke apart from Hurley, in my eyes, is the utter domination that Women's Soccer had all season. Outside of a fluky loss to Cornell, the only losses the Women's Soccer team had were to Virginia Tech and Penn State - both nationally ranked teams. The Men's Basketball team didn't have the wall to wall consistency and dominance that Burke's team displayed so that knocked Hurley down a peg. What sets Burke apart from the others is that the Women's Soccer team never had anywhere near the type of success they had this past season and he set a new precedent for success for his program.

In one year Burke did the following: went 16-3-3, including a spotless 12-0-2 MAC record, swept the MAC postseason awards, won a MAC Championship, produced the program's first All-American, and took the program to its first NCAA tournament. His resume really speaks for itself.

MG: I'm going to go second on this one. What really sets Burke apart from Garnham, Nickell, and Hurley for me is 2013-14. Men's Tennis had been a regular appearance in the MAC Championship match and expected to return. Jon Jones was a multiple time All-American. Men's Basketball won the MAC East just last year.

Burkie, on the other hand, had never before been a college head coach. Men's Basketball lost Javon McCrea? Women's Soccer lost Ainsley Wheldon and wasn't obviously shifting to a different style of play that would render the goalkeeper a less important part of the team.

Consider the 2013 season for Women's Soccer: a 6-9-3 record, just 14 goals for, and just one postseason appearance in the last decade. The lone bright spot was the defense, which limited opponents to .88 goals per game, but the offense scored even less and stellar goalkeeper Ainsley Wheldon graduated. 2014? 16-3-3, with a 14-game winning streak in 14 games against MAC competition. 33 goals scored, and just 16 against - and that's including four in a Murphy's Law-fueled NCAA Tournament game against Penn State. Wheldon and her records were replaced by freshman Laura Dougall, and you know the rest.

John points out why Burke got our nod just on the basis of 2014-15, and it becomes obvious when you look at how far he brought his team from 2013-14.

Honorable Mention: Jim Garnham, Lee Nickell, Bobby Hurley

Rookie of the Year - Megan Burns

Megan Burns - Rookie of the Year

MG: When we first started brainstorming this series midway through the spring, Rookie of the Year had us the most spooked. Consider how loaded our options for this: Stephanie Reid didn't even crack our honorable mentions. Imagine if she had been around all year. If Devon Patterson weren't spending the year behind Jon Jones, maybe if Lamonte Bearden didn't have quite the depth around him and had to do more himself.

In the end, it came down to Burns and Dougall, and while one put up record numbers on both her own skill and three All-MAC players in the defense in front of her, the other won a trio of conference championships (one relay) and didn't lose an individual race all year in either of her two premier events. As good as the goalie was, her case is hurt a bit by the top-to-bottom strength of Women's Soccer, and you can't really argue with undefeated.

JM: Just like with the choice for Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year had plenty of great candidates to choose from. Dougall stepped in right away for the Women's Soccer team and was a shutout machine, Bearden was an integral part to sending Men's Basketball to its first NCAA tournament, Stojanovska won MAC Freshman of the Year, and Peacock won 19 matches in an ultra-competitive weight class.

But, as I wrote the other day in the Winter Sports Awards post, Burns went undefeated this year, and the rest, while they had impressive resumes, didn't come close to that kind of domination.

Honorable Mention: Laura Dougall, Lamonte Bearden, Tanja Stojanovska, Sean Peacock, Devon Patterson

Clutch Moment of the Year - Sergio Arevalillo erases 5-1 third-set deficit to clinch MAC title

Sergio Arevalillo - Clutch Moment of the Year

Sergio Arevalillo - Clutch Moment of the Year

JM: When the Men's Tennis team was competing in the MAC final against Binghamton and fell behind, I had decided to take a break from staring at Twitter and actually start studying for my upcoming finals thinking that the match may have been out of hand.

Boy was I wrong.

I took a break from work about an hour or so later and as I was scrolling through Twitter I saw nothing but Matt going crazy on the Bull Run account and all of the UB related people going equally crazy over the epic comeback win fueled by Sergio Arevalillo. This stuck out in my head moreso than the other clutch moments that were nominated because it was a Cinderella-esque come from behind win that I didn't think was going to happen. It also gave UB its school record 3rd MAC team championship for the school year and sent the 3rd team to the NCAA Tournament.

MG: Despite the quality of the competition for this award, Sergio's comeback is a no-brainer. Consider it not just as the cap on an individual singles match, one in which he was down 5-1 in the third set and not just as the cap on a championship tennis match, one in which UB was not only down 2-0, but down in three of the five remaining matches. But also consider it as a cap on a championship-or-bust season that only saw the MAC Tournament by the slimmest of margins, slipping in on a tiebreaker thanks to a Senior Day win over Ball State.

On a personal level, I shared with John that morning that a championship loss to Binghamton would be the most crushing of the year for any sport at UB. The breathless Twitter reaction John references came while I was "shopping" in a used bookstore. They frown on cellphones, so I had to hide that. I'm not sure why I didn't leave. Things were so dire that at one point I tweeted "I've fallen and I can't get up." But Sergio, as I once wrote, is a damn HERO, even from sixth singles, and got himself, and everyone else up.

Honorable Mention: Andrea Niper OT winner vs Ball State, Will Regan 5-5 from 3 vs Bowling Green on Senior Night

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Go Bulls