Five members of the Mount Vernon Nazarene College men's soccer team will play their final regular-season home match on Tuesday afternoon when the Cougars take on Geneva (Pa.) College in an American Mideast Conference match at 3:30 p.m.
Seniors David Brunk, Tim Lord, Chris Masone, Josh Robson, and Rick Collins will be honored at halftime of the match for their contributions to the MVNC men's soccer program over the past four years. The team has posted a 59-24-4 overall record (.701 winning percentage) during these players' careers - the best four-year span in the program's history. The Cougars have also finished either second or third at the National Christian College Athletic Association national tournament in each of the past two seasons.
Brunk, a 6-foot goalkeeper from Wrens, Georgia, has provided valuable depth in goal for MVNC the past three years after transferring from Liberty (Va.) University. He has seen action in 14 matches and has posted three shutouts. A religion/history double major, Brunk has also earned Academic All-American honors from both the NCCAA and the NAIA.
"Dave has been a hard-working goalkeeper for us the past three seasons," said head coach Paul Furey. "His work ethic and tremendous team spirit has been a valuable addition to our squad. He demonstrated tremendous character and determination to battle back from knee surgery last winter to regain his form as an aggressive, quick-reacting goalkeeper. He has brought pride to our team as an excellent student and a mature spiritual leader."
Lord, a 6-foot defender from Mansfield, Ohio, has been a key reason that the Cougars have posted 24 shutouts during his three years at MVNC. He was the Most Valuable Defensive Player at the 1999 NCCAA national tournament, and he was a member of the First-Knox Cougar Invitational All-Tournament Team this season. For his career, Lord has recorded one goal and four assists.
"Tim is a humble, soft-spoken, superb student off the field," said Furey. "However, when it comes time to play, his game face is focused and determined to win. His leadership is quiet but steady, and his respect among teammates is unquestioned. Tim simply gets the job done - no questions, no complaints. Every championship team has to have a Tim Lord on it - the no-nonsense, consistent, hard-nosed player whose only concern is how the team succeeds."
"Tim also takes the same approach to his faith," Furey added. "He has a sincere, consistent walk with Christ that others can observe and know he is the 'real deal'."
Masone, a 5-foot-9 midfielder from Edinboro, Pennsylvania, is wrapping up an outstanding four-year career with the Cougars. He has recorded four goals and four assists in 2000 to increase his career totals to 15 goals and 24 assists. He is currently sixth in school history in career assists, and his career point total of 54 ranks him eleventh all-time.
"Chris has been a steady performer for us the past four years, and he has reached the pinnacle of his performance this year," said Furey. "A consummate hard-worker and always fit player, he has become a very solid and consistent player for us at both ends of the field. His warm and friendly personality has made him a pleasure to coach and get to know as a person. I know that he will make a difference in peoples' lives just as he has positively influenced those around him here at MVNC including myself."
Robson, a 6-foot forward from Mansfield, owns nearly every offensive record in Cougar soccer history. An NAIA Honorable Mention All-American last year and a two-time NCCAA First Team All-American, Robson has scored a team-high 14 goals and added seven assists in his final season. He holds the school record for most goals in a season (32) and in a career (72) and most points in a season (77) and in a career (179). He also ranks third with 35 career assists.
"It has been my privilege to coach many special players over the years, but Josh is special among the special," said Furey. "His competitive spirit and drive to win has helped take this program to new heights. His will to succeed is contagious, and his uncompromising effort has made many of his teammates around him better players. Opponents are always aware of him and seldom can do much to contain him."
"Above all of his unbelievable numbers of goals and assists, I see the development and maturity of an individual that has made me proud to be his coach," Furey added. "He has exemplified what competitive spirit is all about while maintaining a consistent character of class, professionalism, and mutual respect for those around him. I may be losing the best player this program has ever known, but I count myself fortunate to have had these past three years to coach such a special player and person."
Collins, a 5-foot-9 midfielder from Pataskala, Ohio, has epitomized the term student-athlete during his career at MVNC. As a third-year captain, Collins has recorded four goals and five assists this season. He will become the program's all-time leader in matches played (88) and matches started (88), and he ranks second in career assists with 42. He has also registered 19 career goals and 80 career points. In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Collins is an NAIA and NCCAA Academic All-American.
"As seniors come and go through a program, every once in awhile you find it hard to imagine what it will be like to be without one," said Furey. "It is hard for me to imagine what it will be like without Rick next fall. He has been the total, complete player. He is the model student-athlete, respected captain, and exemplary Christian. He is the type of player every coach ideally recruits but seldom finds. What he gives to the game, he gives to his studies, and what he gives to his excellence in academics, he gives to his family, friends, teammates, and coach."
"This class of five seniors has experienced the most success in our program's history," Furey added. "Each record-setting year was only to be eclipsed by the following season. Their success speaks directly to not only their abilities as gifted athletes, but also to the character they displayed. If I work real hard in the off-season and get really lucky, I might find a better group of five players. However, I doubt that I would find five more competitive individuals and five better people."