Clemson’s Robbie Robinson, UNC’s Erin Matson voted top ACC Athletes of 2019-2020
Hermann Trophy winner Robbie Robinson of Clemson and National Field Hockey Player of the Year Erin Matson of North Carolina are the top Atlantic Coast Conference male and female athletes for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Robinson receives the 67th Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the conference’s premier male athlete and is the first soccer player to receive the honor. It marks the fourth time a Clemson student-athlete has earned the award and the third time in five years (football quarterback Deshaun Watson in 2016 and 2017). In addition to receiving the Hermann Trophy as the nation’s top men’s soccer player, Robinson was the first overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft by Inter Miami, tying for Clemson’s highest draft pick in any sport.
“It feels great to be the ACC Men’s Athlete of the Year,” Robinson said. “It shows all the hard work my team and I put in and the great coaching I had. It also shows the great improvement from my freshman year to my junior year … It’s such a great honor to be included among those who have won the award before me, and I hope to have along the same careers as they have had and be very successful.”
Matson, a sophomore forward, is the first non-senior or junior to receive the Mary Garber Award as the league’s top female athlete. She is the 10th North Carolina recipient and joins 2018-2019 winner Ashley Hoffman as the Tar Heels’ second consecutive field hockey honoree. Matson, who led the nation in points and goals per game, paced UNC (23-0) to its second consecutive unbeaten season and NCAA title.
“I am so grateful to be the recipient of this year’s Garber Award,” Matson said. “With the circumstances right now, it makes me think about and miss all of the hard work my teammates, our staff, and I put in over the past year to make this possible. I couldn’t imagine receiving it while representing any other university than the one and only Carolina, and it’s just another factor that excites me for the upcoming season.”
The ACC Athlete of the Year Awards are given in memory of distinguished journalists. McKevlin was a sports editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, while Garber, of the Winston-Salem Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the nation.
Clemson’s Robinson earned first-team All-America honors after he led the nation in points (45), tied for the national lead in goals (18) and was tied for fifth in assists (9). The ACC Offensive Player of the Year became the first Clemson player since 1998 to record multiple hat tricks in a single season. The junior forward led the nation in four statistical categories and ranked in the top 10 in eight different categories in leading the Tigers to the national quarterfinals.
Robinson is the 20th ACC men’s soccer player to win the Hermann Trophy. He is the third player in Clemson program history to win the award and the first since Wojtek Krakowiak in 1998.
The Camden, S.C., native became the first ACC player to be selected No. 1 overall in the MLS SuperDraft since Wake Forest’s Jack Harrison in 2016 and the seventh from a current ACC program.
With Robinson leading the way, Clemson earned a No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers finished with an 18-2-2 overall record, the program’s most wins since 2001 and fewest losses since 1998.
“His accomplishments and body of work from this season are deserving of the award,” Clemson head coach Mike Noonan said of Robinson. “This is a statement that by being the first male soccer player to receive the award, the sport is continuing to grow and sit prominently in the ACC as one of the top sports. The Clemson men’s soccer program continues to be a leader in the ACC, and we’re proud to have the first soccer recipient of the award.”
Robinson led the McKevlin Award balloting with 38 votes, followed by a pair of All-ACC basketball players – Duke’s Tre Jones (13 votes) and Florida State’s Trent Forrest (8).
North Carolina’s Matson was named the NFHCA National Player the Year and became the first sophomore in UNC history to receive the Honda Sport Award as the nation’s top field hockey player. Her other 2019 accolades included ACC Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
The Chadds Ford, Pa., native ranked second on UNC’s all-time single-season list with 33 goals and 81 points despite missing three regular-season games while competing with the U.S. National Team in India. She was voted the 2019 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player after scoring four goals in the NCAA semifinal and two more in the national championship game.
Matson also earned first-team spots on the All-America and All-ACC teams, in addition to being named to the All-ACC Tournament and All-ACC Academic teams. She was a three-time National Offensive Player of the Week, a five-time ACC Offensive Player of the Week and became the first player ever to win ACC and National Player of the Week honors in consecutive weeks.
“This is an incredible honor for Erin, and also really special for our program to have back-to-back winners,” UNC head coach Karen Shelton said. “It’s fitting that she’s the first sophomore ever to win this award – she displays so much maturity on a daily basis. She’s such a dynamic, explosive and creative player, and we’re thrilled she’s a Tar Heel.”
Matson received 42 votes to lead the Garber Award balloting, while Louisville’s All-ACC women’s basketball standout Dana Evans received 12 votes to place second.