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Akin a team player in all ways at Saint Leo

This is not a knock on his Saint Leo College soccer teammates, but there are times Jon Akin will watch a shot go wide of the goal and just know he could have finished the play.

"Whenever you're up there you miss a few too, but you always think you would have put them in," he said. "It does run through my mind, but it doesn't agitate me."

It's just the forward in Akin talking. That's where he played last season, and led the nation in scoring with 72 points on 28 goals and 16 assists. This season, the junior moved to midfield, where his jobs are to defend and feed the ball.

But Akin has been no less productive at his position, and is the Monarchs' leading scorer heading into their final game with 22 points on nine goals and four assists.

The change was prompted by the team's shortage of midfielders. And since it is Akin's natural position _ he played there as a freshman before taking the forward spot from the injured Geoff Chisolm _ the decision for coach Fran Reidy was simple.

Akin made it easier, shedding the spotlight like a slow-footed defender. "He handled it well," Reidy said. "He is a team player."

And Akin said his play has improved over last season. "People look at the goals and think the world of them," he said, "but I'm reading the game now from a different point of view."

Still, the lure of the goal scorer is strong. "Yeah, I think about that sometimes," he said, "but I can't say I'm disappointed."

BAD TIMING: The Monarchs (12-5, 3-2 Sunshine State Conference) are on a two-game losing streak after falling 2-1 to Florida Tech Saturday and 3-2 to NAIA power Flagler Monday. The losses dealt a severe blow to Saint Leo's chances for post-season play as the Monarchs are ranked sixth in the NCAA South Region coaches poll. The top four advance to the national playoffs.

Despite the setback, Saint Leo moved up one spot to No. 20 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division II poll.

SENIOR FAREWELL: Eight seniors will complete their eligibility, with their final regular-season home game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Rollins. All have played four years and helped Saint Leo to a 51-21-2 record.

The eight are Chisolm, D John Barnes, K Steve Boyle, D Alan Henry, D Ben Luedke, M Gavin Redmond, D Greg Vallee and D Matt Villei.

"All eight brought something to the program," Reidy said. "I will look back at them as a cornerstone of what is now a national program."

INJURY REPORT: Vallee is out after breaking two bones in his lower right leg against Florida Tech. He had surgery Sunday. Barnes is doubtful with a strained ACL.

ESSIG'S LAST STAND: With the volleyball season winding down, it's time to pay tribute to outside hitter Sheila Essig. The team's only senior, she will leave Saint Leo ranked in the school's top five in attack attempts, aces and digs.

"She's a heck of an athlete," coach Bill Lent said. "She's got terrific skills."

She also has been there for the rebuilding of the program. The Monarchs haven't had a winning season since 1987, and last year were 0-14 in the conference. This season, Saint Leo is 15-15 and 2-5 in the conference despite losing four of its last six going into Wednesday night's game at Florida Tech. It has four games left.

"Everyone wants to do it now," Essig said. "Before it didn't seem like it mattered much. Now everything seems more attainable."