In a season marked by new beginnings, new players, and a new era of Otter Soccer, many team and individual records were set and broken. Fans voted, and these are the final results for the 2021 Season Awards!
Goalkeeper of the Year: Patrick Timmer
Timmer made the most of his moments in goal, bringing energy to the matches and coming up big in key moments. His save in the first game of the season was nominated and one Save of the Month and was a finalist for the Save of the Year voting for USL League Two. The defining moment of Timmer’s time between the pipes came in a 3–0 shutout of first place, and previously undefeated West Virginia United at home at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Defender of the Year: Jan Gruhn
After not appearing in the Otters first game of the USL regular season, Gruhn played every minute of the Otters final 13 games. Gruhn played an integral part in the Otters best defensive statistical season of all time, conceding only 16 goals, tied for second-best in the division and ten fewer than the Otters had ever conceded in a season. On a personal level, Gruhn often was the last line of defense, making key last-ditch clearances. In two games against USL League Two MVP Nico Molina, Gruhn allowed zero goals over 180 minutes matched up against him.
Midfielder of the Year: Tom Tzabari
After being sidelined early in the season while waiting on his international clearance, Tzabari made the most of his moments on the field once he became eligible. Making his debut against an unbeaten West Virginia side, Tzabari scored the opening goal of the match and assisted on the second going into halftime en route to a 3–0 drubbing at home. Tzbari brought a needed physicality to the central midfield while also showing the ability to contribute offensively, finishing with three goals and an assist.
Attacking Player of the Year: Danilo Seglio
After a dazzling performance in the first game of the season in the OtterSquatch Cup, Seglio carried his attacking form throughout the season coming up with key goals for the Otters. The Brazilian attacker finished the season leading the team in goals, assists, points, and shots. Seglio also broke the Otters single-season mark for shots in a season, ending with 34 shots.
Young Player of the Year: Gabriel Ramos
An original 2020 commit, Ramos returned for the 2021 season and made an instant impression, being one of the few players to appear in all 16 games during the summer. After flashing his versatility as a freshman at ETSU, Ramos filled a similar role for the Otters, starting the season at right back before moving into the central midfield and settling into the wingback role, providing stout defense and contributing on offense. He racked up two assists before hitting a fantastic strike in the Otters final game to record his only goal of the summer.
Local Player of the Year: Henrik Guenther
Another Buccaneer to join the Otters this summer, Guenther also appeared in all 16 games this summer. Playing everywhere across the backline, the German defender was able to physically dominate opponents while also using his speed and quickness to be just as much of a matchup nightmare on offense. Guenther scored a goal against Tobacco Road FC before adding an assist in the second to last home game of the season.
Most Valuable Player: Guillermo Segovia
Segovia entered his second season with the Otters already holding the career and season records for goals and point. All he did this summer was extend both of those records, move into first all-time in career assists, and captain the Otters through their best stretch in team history. Segovia finished the season with five goals and two assists, and is the only Otter to ever appear in every possible game in their career. As captain, the Otters finished with a record of 6–1–3 in games where Segovia wore the armband.
Community Impact Player of the Year: Sam Catherall
Catherall came to the Otters via Garner-Webb University and the Seattle Sounders academy. Catherall almost immediately became well loved by teammates, coaches, and fans alike. He appeared in all 14 games and captaining the Otters against Lionsbridge FC in the home opener, and scored his only goal of the season to clinch the home win over the NC Fusion U-23s. Off the field, Catherall assisted in numerous team service projects, TOPSoccer, as well as helping with various soccer camps in the region.
Record Breaking Performance of the Year: Eight-Game Unbeaten Streak
After starting the year facing the top-three teams in the first four games, the Otters found themselves in need of a turnaround to get back into the playoff hunt. Following a 1–1 home draw against Virginia Beach United, the Otters went on the best run in team history going eight games unbeaten and unbeaten in nine of their last ten. The Otters broke the record for most wins and points in a season, ultimately falling just short of the third and final playoff spot in the South Atlantic Division with a 7–4–3 record.
Goal of the Year: Tom Tzabari vs. West Virginia United
With the Otters needing a result and unbeaten West Virginia United in town, Tzabari made the most of his Otters debut. After earning a corner in the 36th minute, Tzabari was able to flick a low ball in from Agu Ortiz up and over the keeper for the early 1–0 lead. The Otters would go on to win 3–0 and record the longest unbeaten streak in team history.
Save of the Year: Patrick Timmer vs. West Virginia United
The offense was the story of the day, but the Otters were also able to hand West Virginia their first loss behind the excellent work of the defense. Facing the eventual USL League Two Golden Boot winner and MVP, Patrick Timmer kept the defense organized and came up big in key moments to keep West Virginia from every finding their footing in the 3–0 shutout.
Moment of the Year: 3–2 Home Win over First Place NC Fusion
With the unbeaten streak at four games and three key matches in one week, the Otters found the first place NC Fusion U-23s coming to TVA Credit Union Ballpark. In front of a season-high crowd, the Otters brought the excitement, knocking off the eventual South Atlantic Division winners and National Runners-Up 3–2 behind goals from Matthew Skinner, Danilo Seglio, and Sam Catherall and key saves deep into stoppage time by Mars Gohier.
While the 2021 season has come to a close, many of your favorite Otters will be in action this fall with the college soccer season already underway. Otter Soccer already have their sights set on 2022, so be sure to follow @ottersoccer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and check the freshly re-designed ottersoccer.com for information and announcements regarding events, merchandise, the USL Academy, and more! #FearTheFur