Redshirt-senior midfielder Ryan King becomes the first Laker to be named a United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Week announced by the organization Tuesday.
A weekly recognition by the governing body for college soccer coaches, the award recognizes outstanding on-field accomplishments. The USC names one male and female winner each week for all three levels of the NCAA and two junior college levels.
After being away from the field for the past two seasons, King has returned with a vengeance as he has delivered 15 goals and a pair of assists for 32 points in just 13 games. His goal and point totals lead the entire NCAA Division II Southeast Region and he appears in the Top-10 of four major categories nationally for the Division.
The latter includes being second in the country in goals per game (1.15), third in points per game (2.46), fifth in total goals and 10th in total points. He leads the Peach Belt Conference in goals by four over the next closest player and points by eight over second place. Add to that that he is a perfect 4-for-4 on penalty kicks.
These types of performances have netted him a program record three PBC Player of the Week honors, giving him a team record four for his career. Two of those honors came during weeks that the Lakers swept the league awards, something they have done for a PBC record three times in 2019. In all, he has helped the program shatter the old record of nine weekly honorees with 12 so far this year.
This season he has been an integral part of leading Clayton State back into the national rankings at No. 19 earlier this year and currently has them sporting an outstanding 12-4 overall mark and 4-1 record in league play. The latter has them tied for first place entering the home stretch.
This past week would be among his best as he delivered a tremendous performance that not only led to an undefeated week but a signature road win over a Top-10 team that kept them tied for first place in the PBC. On the week he finished with a whopping five goals for 10 points.
King opened with a two goal performance in an 8-0 win over North Greenville (10/29) — and that in just 45 minutes of work. Following a burst of three goals in three and a half minutes, he would follow with a penalty kick (3-of-3 at that point) and a beautiful free kick from deep on the left wing. The latter would see him curve the ball into the upper left hand corner for an impossible-to-stop score.
Taking on a much different opponent with a lot more on the line, King would not only match but exceed his performance against NGU. Taking on No. 7 Francis Marion (11/2) on the road in a showdown for first place in the PBC he got the Lakers on the board in the 23rd minute as he made it a perfect 4-of-4 on PK’s.
After seeing the game tied up in the opening seconds of the second half he answered back with a powerful header off a corner from Jack Stevens in the 54th minute to regain the lead. The game would be tied back up minutes later and stay that way until midway through the second overtime. In true thrilling fashion, King was the one to take a free kick from the left wing and buried it deep in the left corner for the 3-2 game-winner at the 106:25 mark.
All three of those goals came against FMU’s Maximiliano Rocco, who had not given up more than two goals in a game all season and is the owner of eight shutouts. The latter tied him for fifth in the country but King singlehandedly made sure that he would record his eighth on that day.
“Of the trials and tribulations that he has had to go through the last three years, I am so very proud that he is finishing at the top of his game,” said head coach Pete Petersen. “We still have giants to slay and the end of the season is closing in. How he, and we, end this race will be something to enjoy.”
Clayton State (12-4-0, 4-1 PBC) returns to action on Wednesday, November 6 when they travel to No. 21 Lander (10-3-2, 4-1-0 PBC) in a massive battle for PBC supremacy. Game time is set for primetime at 7 p.m. under the lights in Greenwood, South Carolina.