MISL announced its players of the week as follows:
GOALKEEPER OF THE WEEK
Jim Larkin, California Cougars
Jim Larkin contributed his best performance of the season, and allowed the fewest goals in a game of any starting MISL goalkeeper in games over the past weekend as the California Cougars made history, winning their first game as an expansion club in the Major Indoor Soccer League with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Storm at the Stockton Arena. Larkin had struggled to produce his familiar shot-stopping performances since returning from offseason knee surgery in December. However the three-time All-Star was on his game on Saturday night in a game broadcast live by Comcast SportsNet West. In his time protecting the net (64:08 of a possible 66:08 minutes played) Larkin yielded only three goals and saved 10 Chicago shots, including one in overtime. California led for only the third time this season at halftime, at which point Larkin had saved five of six Storm shots.
The 30-year-old and native of Toronto, Ont., drastically improved his individual season totals in helping the Cougars earn their first win before a home crowd that stood for the entire overtime period, and ensuing celebration following a game-winning goal by defender Bill Sedgewick. Larkin, who last season set a career-high with 20 regular season wins, improved to 1-7, and lowered his goals against average to 7.59, and raised his save percentage to 64.6 percent. Despite starting just eight and playing in nine of 12 Cougars games, Larkin leads the MISL in saves (106) and shots faced (168). The four goals allowed by California on Saturday (three on Larkin), was the smallest total allowed by the Cougars this season.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Genoni Martinez, St. Louis Steamers
Genoni Martinez has long been considered one of the most, if not the most, feared defenders in the game when attacking the opposition's goal. In returning to action after missing five games for the Steamers, the 30-year-old native of Mexico City was already in high-gear scoring three goals and assisting on two more. Martinez' weekend showing was highlighted by a two-goal and two-assist performance in St. Louis', 6-5, overtime victory over the Philadelphia KiXX that included Martinez assisting fellow defender D.J. Newsom for the game-winning overtime goal before a crowd of 7,633 at the Wachovia Spectrum.
The League's two-time Defender of the Year, and 2004-05 All-MISL First-Team selection added a restart goal in Sunday's 6-4 loss at Chicago, a defeat that snapped the Steamers winning streak at seven. The Steamers (8-3) remain in second-place in the MISL standings, trailing only Milwaukee (9-1). Martinez and the Steamers will have a chance to narrow that gap on Friday, when they travel to Milwaukee to face the defending MISL Champions in the coming weekend's marquee MISL match-up. Martinez has three goals, six assists and four blocks in six games in the 2005-06 season, his first with the Steamers.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Giuliano Celenza, Baltimore Blast
Giuliano Celenza continues to be a consistent goal scoring machine for Baltimore. This season's MISL goal-scoring leader had four goals in helping Baltimore deal Milwaukee its first loss of the season, 8-5, on Friday night on the road. The next night, in a Blast versus Wave rematch, this time at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena, Celenza scored early to give the Blast a 3-1 lead. In the closing minutes of regulation the fifth-year forward assisted on David Bascome's goal that sent the game into overtime. The Wave (9-1), ultimately prevailed 7-6 in overtime to earn a series split and remain in first place in the MISL standings.
With Celenza's five-goal, one-assist, weekend, he improved his goal scoring total to 17 goals in 10 games, and his points total to 19, which ranks third in the Spalding Scoring Championship race behind teammate Adauto Neto (23) and Milwaukee's two-time defending MISL MVP Greg Howes (21). Celenza leads the MISL in power play goals (four) and first goals (three). An All-MISL Second-Team honoree in 2004-05, the recently-turned 27-year-old Celenza has been a part of two MISL Championship teams in his hometown of Baltimore and was also named the 2004 MISL All-Star Game MVP in St. Louis.