Rakhmonberdiev scores trifecta with United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Week nod

Rakhmonberdiev scores trifecta with United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Week nod

There's just something about the number three for Johnny Rakhmonberdiev.

The junior from Sevierville, Tenn., collected his third award in as many days, as he was tabbed the United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Week for Division III.

Rakhmonberdiev – a midfielder for the Scots – scored a trio of goals against Berea College last week, before dishing out three assists over Huntingdon College on Saturday. Today's award is his third of its kind, after he was named Player of the Week by both the USA South Athletic Conference and the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.

"I mean, this is great," Rakhmonberdiev said. "I'm pleased to get this achievement. I couldn't have possibly done it without my team. I'm really pleased and honored."

Rakhmonberdiev becomes the first Maryville College male soccer player to earn the national honor, as he joins only Bailey Sipos who won the award in 2018 on the women's side.

"You know, it's just a fantastic honor for Johnny, who had a great week," Fernandez said. "We talked earlier that he had been struggling to recover from last season's injury. He's played well, but he just hasn't been himself. Last week, he looked like a better version of himself. His mobility is back, and he doesn't even look like he's had an injury at all. The way he's played over the years, the memorable goals that he's scored and the things that he's done, I'm really happy that he's being recognized at such a high level."

Rakhmonberdiev scored a total of 10 points last week, as he tallied four assists and three goals in all.

He scored his first collegiate hat trick against the Mountaineers, before coming back to tie the Maryville College record with three assists in a match against the Hawks.

Those tallies earned him his national honor.

"Over the years, we've been in and out of the national rankings, and we've beat some nationally-ranked teams," Fernandez said. "But, you're always excited when one of your players is recognized by groups as being one of the top players in the nation."

Rakhmonberdiev also had a hand in Sunday's record-breaking performance by Trevor McDonald. McDonald scored the eighth-fastest back-to-back goals in NCAA Division III history, as Rakhmonberdiev assisted the second. McDonald's second goal in just 16 seconds – assisted by Rakhmonberdiev – was the eventual game winner in the USA South bout.

Maryville remains undefeated in conference play this season, as they sit at 5-0. The Scots are 7-2 overall.

"I think that's the key," Fernandez said. "He needed to get back into playing. He hadn't really played a competitive match until our first scrimmage this year. We've kind of limited him on starting and playing time early on, and now that he's played his way back in, he looks like he's ready."

In just two games last week, Rakhmonberdiev had more goals and assists than in the first seven of the 2019 campaign.

Against Berea College, Rakhmonberdiev scored the game-winning goal for Maryville in the seventh minute. The unassisted strike was his 13th career goal and the second of his 2019 season.

Rakhmonberdiev secured the brace just 3:01 later, as the junior placed a rocket off the foot of Ryan Clift. The score would remain 2-0 at the half.

Rakhmonberdiev continued his scoring to start off the second half. In the 59th minute, he found Jace Burchfiel for an assist. Burchfiel's goal made the score 3-0, before the Sevierville, Tenn. native made it 4-0 with his hat trick.

Just 3:45 later, Rakhmonberdiev found the unassisted goal, as the Scots went on to win, 5-0. He ranks tied for 13th in the MC record book with seven points against the Mountaineers.

Against Huntingdon on Saturday, Rakhmonberdiev continued his huge week. Just 16 second after McDonald's first goal, the junior assisted him on his second. Rakhmonberdiev found Kai Miettinen who one-touched it to McDonald in the box. McDonald used a right-footed blast at the penalty area into the lower left of the goal for an early 2-nil lead in the ninth minute.

In the 51st minute, Rakhmonberdiev added his second assist. The goalkeeper deflected the junior's shot, as Chris Fernandez collected it in the scrum. He one-timed it from 10 yards out, making the score 5-0.

Austin Vineyard collected his second goal of the match in the 68th minute, as Rakhmonberdiev assisted. He found the streaking Vineyard between a pair of defenders, as the junior took the shot from the 18-yard line. He placed it in the lower left of the net for a 7-1 lead, before the Scots eventually won, 8-1.

"All I want to do when we start the game is help the team," Rakhmonberdiev said. "I just want to find my moments and scoring chances. That's all. I just want to help my team."

On the season, this 5-foot-10 midfielder has four goals and six assists in nine games played. He has 25 shots – 15 of those finding frame for a .600 shots on goal percentage. He's also struck two game winners.

"He's just so calm on the ball," Fernandez said. "He's got really quick feet, and he's a good decision maker. The combination of those two things gives him time to choose the proper pass or choose the right shot. Plus, he's got one of the best left legs around."

In his two years wearing the Orange and Garnet, Rakhmonberdiev has 15 goals and 11 assists. He's posted 41 points, while holding a .519 shots on goal percentage. The junior has four game-winning goals in his career.

Rakhmonberdiev will look to lead the Scots this week, as they continue their USA South schedule. MC travels to Brevard College tonight at 7:00 p.m.