Folk, Zaher Nominated For Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Sept. 24, 2007

UCLA senior defenders Greg Folk and Mike Zaher are amongst 20 seniors nominated for the 2007 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for men's soccer. The award is presented annually in eight NCAA Division I sports to a senior student-athlete who excels both on and off the field. While the on-the-field performance during their collegiate soccer careers is a factor in determining candidates and the eventual winner, their personal character and off-the-field achievements in the classroom and community are major areas of focus.

Folk, who hails from Woodland Hills, CA, and Zaher, who is from Las Vegas, NV, are UCLA co-captains this season and have both been very active in the community, participating in various community outreach events and fundraisers, including the 2005 UCLA Dance Marathon to benefit pediatric AIDS; the 2007 Soccer for Hope event to benefit pediatric cancer research; and 'I'm Going To College,' a collegiate community outreach effort. They also participated in UCLA's Adopt-A-Classroom program from 2005 to the present and worked at the 2006 and 2007 UCLA Soccer camps. In addition, they have also done several community-service projects with the UCLA soccer team, including clinics for high-risk and disadvantaged youth, and have worked with several age groups at a soccer club in Pacific Palisades. They both also served as panelists at UCLA's Freshman Orientation in the summer of 2007.

On the academic side, both were Pac-10 honorable mention All-Academic selections in 2005 and 2006 and members of the UCLA Director's Honor Roll. Zaher was the 2006 UCLA Team GPA award-winner and holds a cumulative GPA of 3.435 in Political Science. Folk holds a 3.22 cumulative GPA in Economics. Both are on course to graduate in 2008.

The two Bruins possess strong character as well, taking on leadership roles a year ago and guiding a team that was dominated by underclassmen (12 freshmen and seven sophomores) all the way to the NCAA Championship game. Folk and Zaher play exemplary team soccer, with consistent, hard-working and clean play. Folk is Mr. Versatility, moving with ease to any field position the coaches ask him to play, while Zaher plays relentless defense on the left side, always willing to sacrifice his body to defend the play. While playing hard defense, both have also played cleanly. Entering their fourth season, Zaher has received only one yellow card, and Folk just four.

On the field, Zaher earned pre-season All-America honors this year after a junior season in which he was first-team All-Pac-10, third-team NSCAA All-Far West and UCLA's Defensive MVP. He ranked second on the team in minutes played (2,165) and scored two goals and three assists while playing and starting in 23 games. As a sophomore, he played in 16 games and made seven starts, scoring one goal with two assists while helping the Bruins win their second-straight Pac-10 title and recording the second-most shutouts in school history (14). As a freshman in 2004, he played in nine games. After seven games this season, he ranks second on the squad in scoring with six points off two goals and two assists.

Folk, who earned UCLA's Coaches Award in 2006, was one of three UCLA players to start in all 24 games last season, and he led the team in minutes played with 2,216 (out of 2,260). As a sophomore, he started in 19 of 20 games played, and he helped the Bruins record the second-most shutouts in school history (14) and a second-straight Pac-10 title. He played in seven games as a freshman in 2004. In the summer of 2005, he helped lead the U.S. Under-18 National Team to the Milk Cup Championship, and in the summer of 2007, he was team captain for the U.S. Pan American Games team. So far this season, Folk is one of just two Bruins to play in every minute of every game this year.

'Mike Zaher has been a model student-athlete at UCLA,' said Bruin head coach Jorge Salcedo. 'He has worked very hard both on and off the field to achieve the success he has had. As a student, his hard work is reflected in his continual presence on the honor roll. As a soccer player, he has persevered to become an integral part of our team.'

'Greg Folk is someone that I could not be more proud of as a student-athlete,' Salcedo continued. 'He is a consummate team player and gives it his all each and every time he represents UCLA, either as a student or as a soccer player.'

From the list of 20 candidates in each sport, a national media committee will select 10 finalists in both divisions in October for the 2007 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Those ten names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote beginning October 16 and concluding November 21. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award. Winners will be announced during the NCAA Soccer Championships, scheduled on December 7-9 in College Station, TX for women and December 14-16 in Cary, NC for men.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award was launched during the 2001-02 season in response to the trend of college basketball players leaving college early to turn professional. The award was conceived by sportscaster Dick Enberg, who continues to serve as Honorary Chairman, and has recognized winners in men's and women's basketball for six years. Lowe's extended the award in the spring of 2007 to include four other NCAA sports: baseball, softball, men's hockey and men's lacrosse. With the addition of men's and women's soccer in fall 2007, a total of eight sports are now included in the awards program.

2007 Men's Soccer Senior CLASS Award Nominees
Anton Axelsson, Forward, Jacksonville University
Evan Barnes, Goalkeeper, United States Naval Academy
Eric Brunner, Defender, Ohio State
Greg Folk, Defender, UCLA
Kevin Forrest, Forward, University of Washington
Trini Gomez, Midfield, Loyola Marymount University
Andy Iro, Defender, UC Santa Barbara
Julius James, Defender, University of Connecticut
Tim Jepson, Defense, Duke
George Josten, Forward, Gonzaga University
Stephen King, Midfield, University of Maryland
Peter Lowry, Midfield, Santa Clara University
Travis MacKenzie, Midfielder, Duquesne University
Kevin Meyer, Midfielder, Fordham University
Brad Peetoom, Defender, Syracuse University
Todd Reedy, Defender, Bradley University
David Roth, Forward, Northwestern University
Andre Sherard, Defender, North Carolina
Julian Valentin, Defender, Wake Forest University
Mike Zaher, Defender, UCLA

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