ST. LOUIS — Former Naugatuck High School soccer star Ryan Kinne, now a junior midfielder at Monmouth University, is among 15 semifinalists for the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy, the highest individual honor in intercollegiate soccer.
“This is the Heisman, the Naismith for NCAA soccer,” as NHS Athletic Director Tom Pompei put it.
Division I head coaches who are members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America will vote to determine the winner. Three finalists will be announced Friday and earn a trip to the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis for a dinner and award presentation Jan. 8.
Kinne led Monmouth to an 18-2-2 record this season, tallying a team-leading 10 goals—including six game-winners—and seven assists. The Hawks, who began the season unranked, won the Northeast Conference tournament and climbed all the way to No. 5 in the nation before No. 9 Harvard knocked them out of the NCAA tournament in the second round Nov. 22.
Though excited by becoming the first player in school history to be nominated for the Hermann Trophy, Kinne is keeping his team-first attitude.
“Individual accomplishments are good, but I’d die to still be playing right now,” he said.
Kinne did allow, however, that his personal recognition might help increase Monmouth’s national profile.
“Definitely,” he said. “And the thing is we only lose one player from this year’s team, so next year we hope we can be just as good.”
The former Greyhound was named to the all-NEC first team for the second straight season, this time garnering player of the year honors.
“Ryan is an alumnus that Naugatuck High School can brag about for days,” Pompei said, “not just because of his athletic achievements, but because he does what he does while maintaining a GPA well above a 3.0 in college and while remaining one of the single nicest and most respectful young men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”
Kinne was an all-America selection as a senior at Naugy in 2006, when he scored 31 goals. He also was named the top player in Connecticut that season. Despite all the accolades he earned in high school, Kinne still felt he had to prove himself at the college level. He sees his Hermann nomination as validation.
“Even though I was an all-American and tops in Connecticut, I think a lot of people don’t view Connecticut as that good a soccer state,” Kinne said. “I don’t think people expected much out of me. So to be named one of the 15 best players in the country feels pretty good.”
Pompei is feeling a twinge of validation as well.
“At the time of their graduation, I made the not-so-bold prediction that NHS would someday have two professional athletes from the class of 2007,” Pompei said. “Ryan and Patrick Dean at Boston College are—God willing—well on the way to proving me correct.”