Valparaiso University men’s soccer head coach Mike Avery has unveiled the program’s 2017-18 award winners.
“When we look back and survey the landscape over the past 12 months, it has been a very good year for our program,” Avery said. “There were plenty of big moments on the field – wins over nationally-ranked opponents, program milestones reached, records broken, three ESPN Top 10 plays and a competitive start as we began our membership in the Missouri Valley Conference. Perhaps more importantly, though, is that we have graduated 16 players in the past year and sent them off to life after college armed with lessons learned from time spent with the program, and armed with an incredible degree from a well-respected university. Simultaneously, we welcomed a large group of players to the soccer family and have them poised to take the program to new heights.”
2017-18 Offensive MVP – Rafael Mentzingen, Jr., MF, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A season filled with highlights for the first-year Crusader ended with the most impressive play of all as Mentzingen scored a majestic goal in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament against Drake. That goal received national attention from numerous media outlets and led off the Scott Van Pelt Sports Center on ESPN that evening.
The MVC Tournament goal was one of many memorable Mentzingen moments on his way to earning United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Second-Team, First-Team All-Missouri Valley Conference and MVC All-Tournament Team. Mentzingen scored nine goals on the season, which ranks tied for seventh in single-season program history. He accumulated 19 points and scored a pair of game-winning goals, the only Crusader with multiple match winners in 2017.
Mentzingen scored his first Valpo goal on Sept. 1 at nationally-ranked Loyola, helping the Crusaders to a 2-1 win in their first Missouri Valley Conference athletic event in any sports since becoming a full-fledged member. Another season highlight came on Oct. 30 against Eastern Illinois, when he helped Valpo to a 3-1 win with his first brace of the season.
2017-18 Defensive MVP – Ignacio Miras, Jr., GK, Ubeda, Spain
After playing in 16 games during his first season as Valpo’s starting goalkeeper, Miras has garnered the team’s Defensive MVP honor.
The junior posted a 1.64 goals against average while racking up 61 saves. Miras’s single-season GAA ranks 10th in program history. He made seven saves in his first career start on Aug. 25 at Big Ten foe Northwestern, the most stops by a Valpo keeper in his first career start since 2001.
Miras notched a career-high eight saves on two occasions, Sept. 3 at DePaul and Oct. 21 at Central Arkansas. He was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week on Sept. 4 after earning MVP honors at the Chicago Classic, making 12 saves over two matches to help the Crusaders to the tournament championship. That award-heavy week also saw Miras take home MVC Defensive Player of the Week recognition.
2017-18 TS11 Award – Jacob Keck, Sr., MF, Topeka, Kan.
Perhaps the most prestigious award given annually by the Valpo men’s soccer program is the TS11 Award. The TS11 Award honors the player who best represents the core values of the program, and who is the embodiment of the ideal teammate. This year’s award, as voted upon by the Valpo players, was given to senior Jacob Keck.
Keck was also named a State Farm MVC Good Neighbor award winner for the 2017 fall season. During his four-year career at Valpo, the impact Keck made went beyond the playing field. He thrived academically despite a rigorous course load as a pre-med (biology/chemistry) major. A team captain this season, Keck has served the community through charitable causes including They Often Cry Outreach, St. Baldrick’s and #OneValpo. In addition, he served as the men’s soccer Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative.
On the field, Keck played in all 18 matches and finished with one goal and one assist.
2017-18 VUMSO Supporter’s Award – Coach Bob Brooks, Strength & Conditioning Coach
A Valparaiso University veteran who has worked in the school’s athletic department since 1994, Bob Brooks has received the program’s annual Supporter’s Award this season.
“Coach Brooks has been working directly with our program for the past three years, and, without question, our group has seen noticeable gains in this area,” Avery said. “The players have gained strength in all the right areas specific to our sport, and Coach Brooks has helped to instill a work ethic in that area that fits the overall culture within the program. The #BodyByBob hashtags we see on social media are just a small indication of the guys’ love for Coach Brooks, and it is clear when I observe the weight room sessions that there is a mutual affection and respect between our players and Coach Brooks. Personally, Bobby has been a great friend to me, my family and my staff, and it’s a pleasure for me to shine a light on the work he does, often behind the scenes. Thanks Bob!”
2017-18 VUMSO Alumni Award – Adam Kamps ’99, St Louis, Mo.
Adam Kamps has been selected as the VUMSO Alumni Award winner for the 2017-18 academic year.
Kamps, born and raised in Webster Groves, Mo., still resides in the St. Louis area, where he lives with his wife and two children, Connor (9) and Paige (7). A four-year member of the Valparaiso men’s soccer team, Kamps starred as a defender from 1995-1998, earning All-Mid-Continent Conference accolades in his junior and senior seasons. Kamps helped lead the Crusaders to a Mid-Con tournament championship in 1996, earning the right to play in the NCAA Play-In Game, Valpo’s lone NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
“Adam has been a great friend to our program, and is someone I have really come to appreciate,” Avery said. “He played in a different era, and for a different coach, and often times it is easy in those situations for former players to become a bit disconnected. Adam, though, has not only stayed involved, he has helped build a bridge to other former players from his era. Our alums have been tremendous, and their support of the program continues to grow. Adam is a big part of that and we are all very thankful for his continued involvement.”
“I am thankful for the award, but even more thankful the program has Coach Avery as its leader,” Kamps said. “Collegiate soccer for most lasts four years. The guidance, inspiration and belief Coach Avery installs in these young men will last long after their last game is played. I encourage all VUMSO Alumni to reflect on their time at Valpo. We all had our successes and defeats at Valpo. Remember the bus rides, the 5 a.m. meals and the hotel rooms with teammates who snored. Consider giving back to the program. Why not? After meeting with Coach Avery and the squad over the last couple years, it really is amazing to see so many young men with so many diverse backgrounds and experiences playing soccer at Valparaiso University. I've watched them twice and am glad I never had to play them. They're ready to take the program to new levels. I'm ready to help them get there. Come join me!”