Rookie player scores three GNAC accolades


Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics

Freshman Sunjoon Tenorio, or “Sun” as his teammates call him, has had an explosive season for the Suffolk men’s soccer team and recently received the accolades to prove it.

Last week, the 18-year-old from Saipan was awarded the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) rookie of the week for the third week in a row. This is the first time a Ram has been acknowledged as the conference’s best rookie of the week three times in one season. He attributed this personal success to the team’s chemistry and camaraderie.

“We have a good connection on and off the field so it’s fun playing with them which makes it easier,” said Tenorio in an interview with The Suffolk Journal.

His recent accolades should not come as a surprise, however, as he is used to playing at a high level. Back home in Saipan, Tenorio plays professionally for the Northern Mariana Islands national soccer team and is the third youngest player on the roster. While the transition from Saipan to Massachusetts may have been a little difficult at first, going from professional play to the collegiate level has proven to be a walk in the park thus far for Tenorio.

In the 15 games the team has played so far this season, Tenorio has scored 10 of the team’s 22 total goals and has also grabbed two assists along the way. The freshman also has all five of the team’s game-winning goals this season, making him tied for the second most total game-winning goals in the conference, according to the GNAC. The second of these game-winning goals came against Norwich University, giving Norwich their first loss of the 2019 season and their first loss to Suffolk since 2011.

Suffolk’s new men’s soccer head coach Austin Burrows admitted that Tenorio had been carrying the team in “terms of offensive production.”

Tenorio wasn’t always the goal-scorer that he is today. While he has always had a knack for putting the ball in the back of the net, he actually played defense for the majority of his soccer career.

“I started as a center back actually then different coaches tried me at forward; I stuck with that because I ended up being better at it,” Tenario said.

Nonetheless, Tenorio’s current offensive position has been working out just fine. The freshman keeps making his case for Rookie of the Conference more and more convincing each week by continuing to be a force on the field with his goal-scoring ability. Burrows said this is what makes Tenorio a contender for this year’s accolade.

As far as the team is concerned, there is a general feel of optimism about the remainder of the current season, as well as the seasons to come. Moving into a new conference next year will definitely be a test of their quality but Tenorio and Burrows both believe the team will be able to rise to the challenge.

“The conference will be tougher next year but we have the talent to compete and do good things,” said Tenorio.

Although he is only in his first year at Suffolk, Tenorio is already showing a tremendous amount of maturity on and off the field. The whole soccer program is optimistic about the future knowing they have a player with this strong of a desire to succeed at such a young age.

“If he keeps maturing and developing and getting that game experience over the next few years, he’ll be able to win a trophy or two for the team as well as himself,” said Burrows.