After reaching the quarterfinals of the Crossroads League Tournament in 2014, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University men’s soccer team hopes to push even farther into the postseason in 2015. The Cougars wrapped up last season with a third place finish in the Crossroads League regular season standings. MVNU recorded an overall record of 10-6-3 and 5-3-1 mark in league play.
“We took some very positive steps forward last fall,” MVNU Head Coach Andrew Belleman said. “We went from 10th in 2013 to finishing 3rd in the conference last year, and felt that we had the team to win the conference. We were a team that was very difficult to play against and very tough at home. We defended extremely well as a team, and developed some principles that will be very important to us moving forward.”
MVNU had three players earn Crossroads League honors when the awards were announced by the conference office following the 2014 season. Tyler Lilly was named to the Crossroads League First Team while Preston Spurrier and Collin Riley were selected to the Crossroads League Second Team.
Spurrier, who is back for his senior year in 2015, was impressive on offense and defense for the Cougars a season ago, finishing 2014 with a team high 20 points. Spurrier had six goals, three of which are game winners, and also notched a team best eight assists in 2014. Spurrier’s eight assists tied for fourth in the Crossroads League rankings.
Javier Cruz and Daniel Rodgriguez are also key returners who each scored a pair of goals and saw significant time on the field in 2014. Defensively, sophomore Adam Miller had an outstanding 2014 season in front of the net as evidenced by a 6-4-2 record for the Cougars. He led the team with 46 saves and posted four shutouts.
MVNU also landed some key recruits during the offseason which will help bolster this year’s club. Nathan Beam, who hails from Xenia, Ohio and is a central midfielder, prepped at Xenia High School and played for the Ohio Galaxies Football Club. In 2012, he helped lead Xenia to the District Finals and then in 2014 helped propel the team to the State Cup Finals. Beam garnered numerous individual honors including GWOC Special Mention (2012), GWOC Second Team (2013), and GWOC First Team (2014). Beam also participated in the GWOC Division I All-Star game and won the GWOC Sportsmanship Award this past season.
Tanner Bowman is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and played goalie at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. He also played club soccer for Cincinnati United Premier. Bowman was named First Team All-City, First Team All-Southwest, Northeast Suburban Life Player of the Year, and First Team All-MVC. Luke Hardwick is the twin brother of Landon and also played at both Sycamore High School and for the Cincinnati United Premier team as a defender. Hardwick helped to lead his teams to Cup Gold, State, and Final Four at Nationals.
Noah Larson, a native of Xenia, Ohio, prepped at Dayton Christian High School and also played for the Ohio Galaxies Football Club as a forward. Larson helped lead Dayton Christian to a 2014 Conference Championship, was named First Team All-Conference, First Team All-District, and Second Team All-State. Larson posted 63 goals during his high school career.
Luke Ramey, who hails from Jamestown, Ohio, played at Dayton Christian High School as a defender. Ramey was a First Team All-Dayton selection as a sophomore and was named Second Team All-Dayton following his senior campaign. Ramey dished out 11 assists as a sophomore from his defender position.
Jared Scarfpin hails from Yellow Springs, Ohio and prepped at Yellow Springs High School where he helped anchor the team’s defense at the defender position. Scarfpin earned a number of individual awards during his high school career. He was a Regional All-American, Three Time All-State Ohio, District Player of the Year, and twice named Metro Buckeye Conference Player of the Year.
Zachary Griffiths, midfielder and native of Windsor, Ontario, played club soccer for the Michigan Wolves Academy and prepped at St. Anne Catholic High School. The Michigan Wolves Academy is one of the top club teams in the United States. Griffiths was a multiple sport athlete in high school by participating in soccer, track and field, cross country, and wrestling. Griffiths was named the soccer MVP in 2012 and 2013 and earned Athlete of the Year Honors in 2010 and 2011. In addition, Griffiths helped guide the team to the OFSAA in 2014.
Thorben Glusing, a midfielder/forward from Buxtehude, Germany, played club soccer for the U19 Regionalliga club team which is one of the top clubs in Germany. Glusing prepped at Gymnasium Schulzentrum Sud where he participated in soccer for nine years and ran track and field for two years.
“We are excited about our new group of players,” Belleman added. “We lost some key players off last year’s team but we feel like with the guys we have returning and with the new players coming in we’ll be able to play a more attractive style of soccer and be able to win that way.”
The Cougars will face a challenging non-conference schedule that will prepare them for the Crossroads League slate which kicks off in late September. MVNU travels to Asbury University (Ky.) on August 28th in the regular season opener followed by a showdown at Georgetown College (Ky.) the next night. The Cougars will then take on Roosevelt University (Ill.) and Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) September 4th and 5th before the team plays its home opener on September 9th against Shawnee State University (Ohio). MVNU then goes to Point Park (Pa.) and hosts Ohio Christian, Cornerstone (Mich.), and Rio Grande (Ohio) to close out the non-conference portion of the schedule.
MVNU will battle for the Crossroads League title with matches against Indiana Wesleyan University, Spring Arbor (Mich.) University, Bethel (Ind.) College, Taylor (Ind.) University, Huntington (Ind.) University, Goshen (Ind.) College, Grace (Ind.) College, Marian (Ind.) University, and the University of Saint Francis (Ind.). The winner of the Crossroads League Tournament will receive a berth into the NAIA National Championship Opening Round.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Preston Spurrier (Cleveland, OH) SR MIDFIELDER
-Crossroads All-League Second Team
-OCSA All-Ohio Team
-Led team with 20 points in 2014
Adam Miller (Galena, OH) SO GOALKEEPER
-Crossroads League Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 13)
-Crossroads League Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 27)
-Team Leading 46 Saves