NewsCougars to Honor Six Soccer Seniors on Saturday
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - The Mount Vernon Nazarene University men’s soccer team will honor its six senior players on Saturday at halftime of the team’s regular-season finale against the University of Rio Grande. The American Mideast Conference South Division match will kick off at 2:00 p.m.
Mark Brauen, Aaron Caluza, Matt Dennie, Jonathan Hoop, Daniel Seiffert, and Josh Van Pelt have helped the MVNU men’s soccer program post a 40-27-8 record over the past four years. As freshmen in 2003, this group of seniors also helped the Cougars post their first-ever unbeaten season at home with a 10-0-1 mark at Cougar Field.
Brauen, a goalkeeper from Harrod, Ohio, is in his first season on the team. The former Bluffton High School product joined the team as a walk-on last spring and has served as a back-up goalkeeper for the Cougars this year. A standout in the classroom, Brauen has been nominated for both the NAIA and NCCAA Scholar-Athlete Teams.
"Mark has been a noticeable addition to our team since joining us last spring,” said MVNU head coach Paul Furey. "He has definitely been a positive addition by bringing both depth to our goalkeeping spot and a light-heartedness and fun approach to the game. He has a sincere heart and his faith is evident in his life. He is very athletic as a field player as well as a goalkeeper, and he has worked hard and been a great team player. I appreciate everything he has brought to this team and wish him and his wife all the best ahead.”
Caluza, a midfielder from Lakewood, California, has played in 55 career matches with 39 career starts during his three-year career with the Cougars. The former Valley Christian High School standout has registered two career goals and 11 career assists. This season, Caluza has posted one goal and two assists while starting all 17 matches.
"I first heard about Aaron as an intramural soccer player his freshman year,” said Furey. "I was initially skeptical, but he quickly proved he was good enough to be on the team that spring and he made the roster the following fall. After he came into camp, he further showed that he was good enough to deserve quality playing time that fall. He returned for the next season and showed himself to be a starter - a spot he has held for two years. More importantly, though, Aaron has shown himself to be a caring and committed believer who has a heart to help others. The determination he brings on the soccer field combined with his heart for ministry will contribute to Aaron having an impact on the lives of people.”
Dennie, a forward from Napoleon, Ohio, has played in 44 career matches with two starts over the past three years. The former Napoleon High School star has registered five career goals and four career assists. This season, Dennie has tallied two assists while playing in all 17 matches.
"After serving as a student assistant as a freshman, Matt opted to try out for the team the following year,” said Furey. "His speed and athleticism quickly became noticeable qualities that would add to our team. His easy-going and friendly personality made the decision simple to keep him around, and his hard work and improved touch on the ball enabled him to be a viable asset off the bench in just about every match the past two seasons. Many may remember him for his sensational flip throw-ins, but those who know him best know him as a warm, caring Christian friend who is committed to his team and teammates.”
Hoop, a forward from Coshocton, Ohio, has played in 62 career matches with 47 career starts over the past four years. The former River View High School product has scored 18 career goals to go with six career assists. This season, Hoop has scored three goals in 15 matches.
"Jonathan worked his way into a starting job his sophomore year and has basically been one of our two starting forwards the past three seasons,” said Furey. "He has scored some nice goals during that time. His huge smile and boisterous laugh are contagious. He is a fun guy to be around and is greatly loved by his teammates. It has been good to see his growth and maturity over the years. He approaches life with optimism and seems to embrace the good things as well as taking the tough things consistently in stride. He has been a great guy to have around the past four years and we wish him the best.”
Seiffert, a defensive midfielder from Lewis Center, Ohio, has played in 74 career matches with 67 career starts over the past four years. The former Worthington Christian High School standout has tallied six career goals and six career assists. He was an NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention pick in 2005 and is a two-time NAIA and NCCAA Scholar-Athlete. Seiffert has posted two goals and two assists while playing in all 17 matches this year.
"There are players that a coach is glad to have on a team and then there are those that you are honored to have,” said Furey. "Daniel has just been a coach’s dream. He has been a steady, consistent, and dependable player the past four years as a defender and a midfielder. However, what he has brought to our program is far more reaching than his contributions on the field. He has been a source of spiritual encouragement to the players and coaches and has been steady and consistent in his Christian walk. Daniel is one of the nicest, friendliest, and most caring individuals I have met, and he has been inspirational to his teammates as well as his coach. It has been a privilege to get to know him and the Seiffert family, and he will be greatly missed.”
Van Pelt, a forward from Maryville, Tennessee, has played in 73 career matches with 72 career starts over the past four years. The former William Blount High School star ranks fourth in school history with 38 career goals, sixth with 27 career assists, and fifth with 103 career points. Among his many honors, he was named to the AMC South Division First Team, selected as the NCCAA East Region Player of the Year, and chosen to the NCCAA All-American First Team in 2005. This season, he leads the Cougars with six goals and three assists while starting all 17 matches.
"Josh has been a very special treat for me as a player to coach and as a person to get to know,” said Furey. "He has left his mark in the Cougar record book and has left an impression on his opponents who have tried to keep up with him. He will be remembered by many for his relentless work rate and unprecedented competitive determination. He is inspirational in demonstrating that heart can overcome any seeming size differential. He certainly has been fun to watch the last four years and has been even more entertaining to get to know. He is a focused leader who is loyal to his teammates and his coach. We will miss Josh as a player, but I will miss him as a great person, a committed Christian, and a good friend. I wish him and his wife all the best life has to offer.”
Going into the match with Rio Grande, MVNU needs a win and a loss or tie by Walsh University in the Cavaliers match against Tiffin University or a tie and a Walsh loss against Tiffin in order to claim the fourth and final playoff spot in the AMC Tournament.