Johnson, Giffard Highlight Five Rams Earning VaSID All-State Honors

RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Men's Soccer program continues to garner recognition for its standout 2012 campaign.  Junior Jason Johnson and Head Coach Dave Giffard highlighted five Rams earning Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) All-State honors this week.

Johnson was named Virginia State Player of the Year, while Giffard received the state's Coach of the Year award.  In addition, junior Romena Bowie, freshman Dennis Castillo and sophomore Mario Herrera Meraz were each named second team all-state.

Johnson, who was also a member of the all-state first team, had his best collegiate season last fall, doubling his point total from both his freshman and sophomore campaigns combined (32), including a team-best 13 goals (highest regular season total in the Atlantic 10) to go along with six assists. 

The 2012 A-10 Offensive Player of the Year inked a Generation adidas contract following the season and was selected 13th overall by the Houston Dynamo in January's MLS SuperDraft.

Giffard, who has guided the Rams to three straight winning seasons since taking over in 2010, led VCU back to the NCAA Tournament as a national seed for the first time since 2004.  The Black and Gold posted 12 victories, the most since 2007, and finished ranked No. 25 in the final NSCAA poll.

Castillo, a freshman All-American, registered six goals during his rookie campaign, while helping VCU's defense post six shutouts.  He was also a perfect 3-for-3 on penalty kicks.  The San Jose, Costa Rica native also garnered NSCAA All-Region recognition as well as being named one of's top 100 freshman.

Despite playing through a series of nagging injuries in 2012, Bowie received all-state honors from his midfield position.  The Saint Mary, Jamaica native, who also received a first team all-region citation to go along with first team all-conference accolades, appeared in 20 matches with 19 starts, and assisted on a pair of goals against Big East foe Seton Hall.

Meanwhile, Herrera Meraz finished his sophomore season with six goals and a team-leading eight assists for 20 points (second-most on the team).  He also played a key role in VCU's postseason fate as he scored the game-winning goals in both the quarterfinals and semifinals of the A-10 Tournament, which helped VCU reach a conference title game for the first time since 2003.

Coach of the Year - Dave Giffard, VCU
VaSID Player of the Year - Jason Johnson, Jr., VCU
VaSID Rookie of the Year - 
Bjarki Aðalsteinsson, Fr., JMU

First Team
D - Bjarki Aðalsteinsson, Fr., JMU
D - Uruah Bentick, Sr., Liberty
D - Greg White, Sr., Liberty
D - Scott Thomsen, Fr., Virginia
M - Chris Harmon, Sr., Old Dominion
M - Bernardo Ulmo, Jr., Radford
M - Paul Wyatt, Sr., JMU
F - Will Bates, Sr., Virginia
F - Tim Hopkinson, Jr., Old Dominion
F - Jason Johnson, Jr., VCU
G - Victor Francoz, Sr., Old Dominion  

Second Team
D - Zach Carroll, Fr., Virginia
D - Dennis Castillo, Fr., VCU
D - Alex De John, Sr., Old Dominion
M - Alex Herrera, Jr., George Mason
M - Jordan LeBlanc, Sr., Old Dominion
M - Mario Herrera Meraz, So., VCU
M - Romena Bowie, Jr., VCU

F - Taylor Morgan, Sr., George Mason
F - Timi Mulgrew, So., George Mason
F - Kyle Breitmeyer, Jr., Liberty
G - Ryan Taylor, Sr., Radford