Five members of the Mount Vernon Nazarene College men's soccer team will play their final regular-season home match at Cougar Field when the team hosts Urbana University on Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in an American Mideast Conference contest.
Seniors Chris Dean, Tim Lord, Ron Hayes, Matt Salisbury, and Todd Pearce will be honored prior to the match for their accomplishments that have helped to lead the Cougars to a 47-34-4 overall record (.576 winning percentage) during their four years at MVNC - the best four-year period in the program's history.
Dean, a forward from Mount Vernon, Ohio, has scored eight career goals and added two assists despite being plagued with injuries. He has scored five goals this season including a career-high four goals in a win over Shawnee State University.
"My heart goes out to this guy," said head coach Paul Furey. "Chris (Dean) has had such a tumultuous career with injuries that it is hard to say just how good he could have been. But, through it all, he has remained upbeat and committed. I admire his courage and perseverance to his team and this program."
Lord, a defender from Mansfield, Ohio, has helped to anchor the Cougar defense. Lord scored his first collegiate goal against Capital University this season. He also has two career assists.
"Tim (Lord) has been a solid and consistent defender for us the past two seasons," Furey said. "You never have to worry about him coming ready to play. His commitment and dedication to this team's success is unquestioned and his character and maturity have made him a model player, student, and person."
Hayes, a defender from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, has been another key member of MVNC's defense that has posted 22 shutouts in the past three seasons. Hayes scored the only goal of his career to force a draw with the University of Rio Grande earlier this season. Hayes also has recorded six career assists. Earlier this year, he was selected to the Pizza Hut Cougar Invitational All-Tournament Team.
"It was evident from the first time Ron (Hayes) stepped on the collegiate playing field four years ago against Kenyon that he only knew how to play the game one way - sacrificially hard," said Furey. "Often playing with no regard for his own physically welfare, Ron's intensity level was motivated by the desire to see his team succeed. His 'team-first, self-second' attitude will be greatly missed."
Salisbury, a defender from Pompano Beach, Florida, has been another mainstay in the Cougar defense. He has scored one goal this season and four goals for his career to go along with seven career assists. Salisbury has twice been an All-Conference Second Team selection, and he was chosen as a National Christian College Athletic Association Honorable Mention All-American last season.
"(Matt) Salisbury has been one of the most talented players that I have coached," Furey said. "While he and I have a most unique relationship, I can honestly say that he has always been ready come game time. He's been a major part of our best defense in school history for the past three seasons. But of all his contributions to this team, perhaps his spiritual leadership to this program will be missed the most."
Pearce, a midfielder from South Amherst, Ohio, has left his mark on the MVNC record books during his four years in the Cougar blue and green. He holds the school record for assists in a single match (4), assists in a season (17), and assists in a career (51). He has scored 20 career goals and amassed 111 career points - the second most in school history. He has received numerous honors including being the first MVNC soccer player to be selected as the NAIA National Player of the Week. In addition, he has been an All-Conference choice and an NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American.
"Todd (Pearce) has been a big reason for the unprecedented success that this program has experienced over the past four years," said Furey. "While his statistics and honors speak for themselves, his leadership has been paramount in helping this program achieve new heights. Todd has always responded positively to bearing the responsibility of leading the team, even when that may have been a difficult thing to do. We will miss Todd for many reasons as a team, but I'll miss him for his loyalty to me, his mature insights, and his genuine friendship."
"This is definitely a very special senior class to me," Furey added. "This group is special not only for the unprecedented success that they have experienced, but for the quality of character that they have brought and for allowing a unique, genuine, caring relationship between a player and their coach."