NewsCougars to Honor Five Soccer Seniors on Thursday
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - The five seniors on the Mount Vernon Nazarene University men’s soccer team will be honored at halftime of the Cougars’ final regular-season home match on Thursday afternoon versus Saint Vincent (Pa.) College.
Marcus Bierbaum, Jarred Renner, Les Claxon, Shawn Morrison, and Jeffery Hinds have helped the program post a 46-25-7 record over the past four years for a .635 winning percentage. MVNU advanced to the National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament in 2002 and finished third. The Cougars also posted their first-ever unbeaten season at home with a 10-0-1 mark in 2003. This year, the team has compiled a 9-4-3 overall record.
Bierbaum, a goalkeeper from Wichita, Kansas, has played in eight matches with four starts over the past two seasons after transferring to MVNU from Malone College. The former Sunrise Christian Academy product has posted a 0.83 goals against average for his career, and the Cougars are 3-0-0 in matches he has started this season.
"Marcus has been a very nice addition to our team after transferring to MVNU for his junior year,” said MVNU head coach Paul Furey. "He has been a solid goalkeeper for us and is as good as any when it comes to stopping shots. He has done a great job stepping in for us this year with a 0.58 goals against average. He is a team player and has always worked hard and contributed many positive things to our program. Marcus is a well-rounded, gifted individual, who will use his gifts to benefit and minister to others. I have appreciated his faith and Christian walk during his time here. I am glad to have had such a quality person join us the past two seasons.”
Renner, a goalkeeper from Fresno, Ohio, has seen action in four matches during his four-year career with the Cougars and has posted a 0.81 goals against average. The former River View High School graduate, who has suffered through numerous injuries that included missing the entire 2003 season, has played in one match this season in which he did not allow a goal in 45 minutes.
"Jarred has been a vital aspect to our team,” said Furey. "He has been the prototype of (former Cougar goalkeeper) Ryan Pearce, who was all about a ‘team first’ attitude. Jarred has persevered through some tough times in his four years here, but he has demonstrated just the type of Christian young man he is. Through those tough times, he has become a stronger person and has been an encouragement to his coaches and teammates. He will make an excellent coach someday as a student of the game and as a caring and encouraging friend.”
Claxon, a midfielder/defender from South Webster, Ohio, has played in 62 matches during his four-year career with 21 career starts. The former South Webster High School standout, who is a two-year captain for the Cougars, was named to the NAIA and NCCAA All-America Scholar-Athlete Teams last year and is up for those honors again this season.
"Les is the third Claxon brother I have had the privilege to coach,” said Furey. "His two older brothers (Casey and Corey) paved the way as hard-working players and individuals who would develop into leaders and have hearts to serve others. Les has walked the same road with character, integrity, and a heart of gold. He has been a significant leader over the past year and has directed this team to be intentionally Christian on and off the field.”
"Les has been in many ways my right-hand man and has kept his teammates’ focus on not just winning as a team, but on striving to do the things that are right in God’s eyes,” Furey added. "He has been an unselfish leader as well - doing whatever necessary to help the team succeed. Good soccer players come and go, but a man of integrity like Les is becoming more difficult to find and more difficult to have leave your program. We will miss Les greatly for what he has brought to our team, and I know he will be a beacon and a blessing to those who he comes in contact with after he leaves MVNU.”
Morrison, a defender/midfielder from Olathe, Kansas, has played in all 77 of the team’s matches during his four-year career and started 75 of them. The former Olathe South High School star has scored four goals and registered six assists in his career. He has also traveled with a soccer ministry organization each summer (Athletes in Action and Missionary Athletes International) and spent a summer each in Canada, Ireland, and Brazil.
"Shawn has been a solid, steady performer for us the past four years,” said Furey. "Not known for being loud and boisterous, Shawn has quietly made his mark as a four-year starter. He has been dependable and efficient - stabilizing the left side of the field. A leader by example, his teammates respect him as a soccer player but moreover as a spiritual leader.”
"Shawn has been very active in summer missions work traveling with a variety of Christian soccer organizations sharing his faith and playing the game he loves,” Furey added. "He helps lead an accountability group for the team and has been a consistent fixture for his teammates on and off the field. As one of our captains this year, Shawn continues to be a model Christian athlete to his teammates, coaches, and those who watch him play. It has been a pleasure to have such a quality individual as part of our program.”
Hinds, a midfielder from Kingston, Jamaica, has played in 67 career matches with 59 career starts. The former Kingston College High School star ranks fifth in school history with 33 career goals, seventh with 24 career assists, and fifth with 90 career points. Hinds has received All-Conference recognition all three previous season, and he was named an NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American in 2002.
"The MVNU men’s soccer program has had a number of very good, skilled players over the years, but perhaps none more so than Jeffery,” said Furey. "Though at times he took some grief from me about holding the ball too long, I have been one of his biggest fans as I have watched in amazement his flair and creativity. When he has been healthy, he has been the best player on the field. He has brought so much to our team, and when he is out we have felt it.”
"Jeffery has brought a lot more to our team than just being another talented player,” Furey added. "He is a real, sincere person, who has brought culture and insights we would never have received otherwise. He has shown me a lot about loyalty and about friendship. He is a one-of-a-kind player and a one-of-a-kind person who will definitely be long remembered.”
Thursday’s match against Saint Vincent will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Then, the Cougars will close out the regular season on Saturday at Shawnee State University.