SOMERSET, NJ - Senior forward Chris Karcz (Clifton, NJ) and sophomore midfielder Nick LaBrocca (Howell, NJ) each earned All-BIG EAST men’s soccer honors it was announced on Thursday night at the league’s postseason awards banquet held at the Doubletree Hotel in Somerset, NJ. LaBrocca earned second team honors, while Karcz was a third team selection. Voting was conducted among the league’s 12 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
The honor is the third for Karcz in as many years, as he earned second team honors last season while earning a spot on the third team in 2002. It marks the second time in three years Rutgers has at least a three-time All-BIG EAST performer as former Rutgers back Guy Abrahamson took home the honor all four seasons from 1999-2002.
Karcz suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left leg last spring and, following surgery, spent the entire summer rehabilitating. He missed the first six games of his senior season before making his first appearance in the first half against Villanova on Sept. 22. He returned to the starting lineup for RU’s next match against third-ranked Michigan at Yurcak Field on Sept. 24. The striker scored two goals in Rutgers’ 3-0 victory over the Wolverines, earning College Soccer News National Player of the Week honors on Sept. 27. Karcz added a goal against No. 18 Hartwick in the Philips/adidas Rutgers Classic, earning all-tournament honors. The goal gave him at least one point in each of his four years of participation in the tournament. He finished his career in the tournament with four goals.
The forward ended his career with 18 goals and 13 assists, playing in 76 games with 71 starts. He finished with six game-winning goals to tie for 10th on the school’s all-time list. He is a two-time All-BIG EAST selection, earning third-team honors in 2002 and second team laurels in 2003. He is also a two-time NSCAA All-Region selection, earning the award in 2002 and 2003.
LaBrocca was one of three Scarlet Knights to start all 18 games this season. He finished the year with three assists. LaBrocca served a perfect lob feed to Karcz in the Scarlet Knights’ final game of the Philips/adidas Rutgers Classic against No. 18 Hartwick, setting Karcz up for the goal. He earned a spot on the All-Tournament team for his efforts. He also assisted freshman Tommy Gray (Middletown, NJ) on two separate occasions in victories over Monmouth and Lehigh.
Rutgers ended the 2004 season 6-8-4 overall and 2-5-4 in the BIG EAST. The Scarlet Knights return 23 members in 2005 and RU’s youthful squad will head into next season’s campaign more experienced and determined to recapture the success of past years.