By Mike Ballard
CAMDEN Sophomore midfielder Pat Baldiserra (Milmay, NJ/Buena Regional) and senior back Tom Blumenstein (Audubon, NJ/Paul VI) captured First Team honors to lead five members of the Rutgers University-Camden men’s soccer team on the All-New Jersey Athletic Conference all-star teams announced Nov. 10.
In addition to the First Team honors for Baldiserra and Blumenstein, the Scarlet Raptors’ junior midfielder Michael Reed (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East) and senior back Brett Mattei (Turnersville, NJ/Washington Township) earned All-NJAC Second Team recognition. Senior midfielder Baris Uslu (Giresun, Turkey/Triton Regional) captured All-NJAC Honorable Mention.
The honors marked the second consecutive year that Baldiserra and Reed received All-NJAC recognition. Both were named First Team All-NJAC stars in 2004.
The Raptors’ all-stars helped Rutgers-Camden post a 15-5-1 record, tying the 2004 team for the most wins in program history. Rutgers-Camden finished second in the conference regular-season race, advanced to the NJAC title game for the first time in program history and was ranked as high as No. 23 nationally (Nov. 1). The Scarlet Raptors were listed as “Also Receiving Votes” in the final regular-season poll Nov. 8.
Baldiserra captured his second straight NJAC honor after finishing tied for second on the team in scoring (six goals, six assists for 18 points) this season. He was tied with Uslu for the team lead with three game-winning goals. He earned Raptor of the Week honors Sept. 19, 2005 after a banner freshman year in 2004 in which he was named NCAA Division III All-Metro Region, NJAC Rookie of the Week (Sept. 20), Raptor of the Week (Sept. 13) and was named the team’s Rookie of the Year, in addition to his NJAC First Team honor.
In Baldiserra’s first two seasons, the Business major has notched 10 goals and 11 assists for 31 career points.
Blumenstein and Mattei earned their first All-NJAC honors after outstanding performances as the Scarlet Raptors’ wing fullbacks, anchoring a defense which posted a 1.36 goals-against average and five shutouts. In addition to their tenacious marking, both players were dangerous running onto the attack. Blumenstein, a right back, finished with four assists (tied for third on the team). Left back Mattei had three assists.
Blumenstein finished his stellar four-year career playing in 79 games, the third-highest total in program history (one behind fellow seniors Brandon Bond and Kevin Ridgway, a pair of Cinnaminson High School products). During his senior season Blumenstein started all 20 of his games, giving him 74 starts in his 79 career appearances. He had eight goals (four game-winning tallies) and 12 assists for 28 career points. He scored the team’s “Goal of the Year” during both his freshman and sophomore seasons, coming against William Paterson (Oct. 19, 2002) and The College of New Jersey (Sept. 24, 2003), respectively. An impact player since his freshman year, the Sociology major earned NJAC Rookie of the Week honors on Oct. 21, 2002.
Mattei, a Biology major, started all 19 of his games as a senior and played in 68 games (45 starts) during his four-year career, notching one goal and six assists for eight points. He was named the school’s Raptor of the Week Oct. 31, 2005, and added honors as the NJAC Defensive Player of the Week the same day. A Dean’s List student as well, he is a Provost Scholar who earned 2004 NJAC All-Academic Honorable Mention.
Reed and Uslu served as two of the Scarlet Raptors’ tri-captains this season as the club posted double-digit wins for the third straight year, the first time that has happened in program history.
Reed, who played with nagging injuries all season long, still managed to earn NJAC Second Team honors after winning First Team recognition as a sophomore. A force in the center midfield, he added two goals and two assists for six points, including a game-winning tally in the NJAC semifinals against Ramapo (a 2-1 win Nov. 2). A Graphics Design major, Reed started all 19 of his games this season and has played in 56 games (54 starts) during his three-year career. He owns seven goals (three game winners) and nine assists for 23 career points.
In addition to earning all-conference honors as a sophomore, Reed also was named NCAA Division III All-Metro Region First Team, served as a team tri-captain and was named the club’s Most Valuable Player. As a freshman in 2003, he was named the team’s Rookie of the Year, earned Raptor of the Week honors (Oct. 6) and was named to the all-tournament team as Rutgers-Camden won the St. Joseph’s College-Patchogue Tournament (Sept. 13-14).
Uslu, who was named as a team tri-captain in 2004 but was lost for the season with an injury in his second game, bounced back to have a banner year in 2005. He led the team in scoring (eight goals, five assists for 37 points), earned Raptor of the Week honors Oct. 10 and added NJAC Offensive Player of the Week recognition the same day.
A two-time All-Mideast Junior College and All-Region 19 player at Camden County College, Uslu transferred to Rutgers-Camden for the 2003 season. That year he was cited as the team’s “Top Offensive Player” after scoring six goals and three assists for 15 points. Like Reed, he was named to the all-tournament team as Rutgers-Camden won the St. Joseph’s College-Patchogue Tournament (Sept. 13-14, 2003), and he was the Raptor of the Week and NJAC Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 22, 2003.
A Business Management major, Uslu finished his Rutgers-Camden career playing in 43 games, starting 42. He had 14 goals (four game-winning goals) and eight assists for 36 career points.