Bearcats Announce Men's Soccer Player Awards

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The 2008 Willamette University men's soccer player awards have been decided. Each year, the players vote for the Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player, Most Inspirational Player, and the Leadership Award.

Here are the award winners, plus quotes from Head Coach Nelson Larson:

Most Improved Player - Jordan Futran (Fr., D, Seattle, WA/The Bush School)

"Jordan is the quiet type, but once he decided to really put himself out there, he began to make an impact for the team," Larson said. Not making his debut until the final game at Puget Sound, Jordan put in top-class minutes and had the coaches wondering where he had been all season. The last two years this award has gone to the guy who just works his hardest everyday and never complains. We are looking forward to what Jordan has to offer in 2009."

Leadership Award and Most Inspirational Player - Ivan Gutierrez (Sr., MF/F, Stayton, OR/Cathedral HS)

"These awards sum up what Ivan meant to the program during his final season at Willamette," Larson commented. "He put his heart into every second of the season and was a great link between the players and the coaches. Each year you hope to have a player like Ivan on your squad who just loves the game and loves being part of a team, and I am sure his impact will be felt for years to come. Ivan will be missed and I am very happy to see the team recognize his efforts for the program."

Most Valuable Player - Mark Bennett (Jr., GK, Salt Lake City, UT/West HS)

"Mark was flat out our best player last season, as he kept the Bearcats in plenty of games," Larson noted. "In a much improved defensive effort from 2007, Mark overcame an injury and an up-and-down sophomore year to make a huge impact for the program. Mark was pushed by our other goalkeepers and the competition made each goalie better. I am hoping to see Mark take on an even bigger role next season and provide the quality that will become the standard for our program."

"Congratulations to these guys who have worked hard and provided the quality needed to be successful," Larson said. "Many of the votes were close and I really enjoy this yearly tradition. The names of players who have been selected for the awards will be put on a plaque in the locker room."

Ivan Gutierrez provided solid leadership for the Bearcats throughout the season.

Ivan Gutierrez provided solid leadership for the Bearcats throughout the season.