By Jason Mack/Laredo Heat SC
Laredo Heat SC defender Liam Morrison was announced Tuesday as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year as he heads into his final season at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
Morrison combined with fellow Heat defender and fellow Aberdeen, Scotland native Lewis Wilson on the backline to help the Rattlers allow just nine goals in 10 matches last season to rank third in the LSC for goals-against average. Morrison also added two goals and an assist.
“Liam coming back to use his extra year of eligibility is a massive boost to the team,” St. Mary’s head coach Johnny Clifford said in a release. “His presence on the field makes us a better unit, and I truly believe he has been one of the best left backs in the state of Texas. I’m very proud of him, and we are all looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish this year.”
The duo aided a similar effort in the National Premier Soccer League’s Lone Star Conference this summer as the Heat allowed only 10 goals during a 7-1-2 regular season to rank as the top defense in the conference. Laredo had a stretch of four clean sheets in five matches during its run to the conference finals including a 3-0 victory over the Midland-Odessa Sockers FC in the playoff opener.
The preseason honor adds to a long list of recognitions for Morrison throughout his career at St. Mary’s. He has twice been named the Defensive Player of the Year while also being named first-team All-Conference and earning Player of the Week honors on March 17, 2021. Morrison has also been recognized for his efforts in the classroom making the LSC Commissioner’s Spring Honor Roll in 2019 and 2021.
Morrison and Wilson are joined by two more Heat teammates this season as midfielder and captain Erwin Regules transferred to St. Mary’s for his final collegiate season, and United High School graduate Roberto “Tito” Ortiz joined the Rattlers as a walk-on to compete for a spot at goalkeeper.
They will attempt to help St. Mary’s improve on last season when it advanced to the Lone Star Conference tournament semifinals. The Rattlers received one of the 21 first-place votes and ranked third in the preseason poll with 141 points.
West Texas A&M ranked first with 10 first-place votes and 171 points, and Midwestern State was close behind with nine first-place votes and 169 points. The rest of the rankings featured UT Tyler (113), TAMIU (98), UT Permian Basin (98, 1 first-place vote), Lubbock Christian (70), Dallas Baptist (45) and Oklahoma Christian (40).
The other preseason honors went to West Texas A&M’s Giancarlo Saldana as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and TAMIU’s Natxo Faus as the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. Saldana had 10 goals in 10 matches last season to earn Newcomer of the Year honors, and Faus allowed only five goals in 542 minutes posting a .711 goals-against average and making 17 saves.
St. Mary’s opens the season Sept. 3 at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Morrison and his fellow Heat and Rattlers teammates will return to their summer home field as opponents on Sept. 29 as they travel to Laredo to face the Dustdevils at 7:00 pm at the TAMIU Soccer Complex.