Bearcats Announce Men's Soccer Award Winners for 2010 Season

Hellekson Named Most Valuable Player

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's soccer teams has named its award winners from the 2010 season. Each year, players on the team choose the award winners by voting for the Most Valuable Player, Leadership Award, Most Inspirational Award and Most Improved Award.

Eben Hellekson (Sr., GK, Honolulu, HI/University Laboratory School) was named the Most Valuable Player. Pete Kline (Sr., D, Cheyenne, WY/Cheyenne Central HS) was chosen for the Leadership Award and the Most Inspirational Award. James Neal (Jr., Fr. elig., GK, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) was selected for the Most Improved Award.

Willamette allowed just 26 goals in 2010, as the team achieved a 1.32 goals against average. It was the fewest goals allowed by the Bearcats since 2001. Willamette will have nine returning starters in 2011.

The 2010 Men's Soccer Award Winners

Most Improved Player - Eben Hellekson (Sr., G)

Eben HelleksonHellekson played in 18 games with 18 starts in 2010. He earned 87 saves, registered three shutouts and achieved a 1.41 goals against average, while playing 1596 minutes in goal. His shutouts were recorded in a win over Bethel University, Minn., 2-0 on Sept. 5, a victory over George Fox University, 2-0 on Sept. 25, and in a tie with George Fox, 0-0 on Oct. 17.

"Eben was a big part of a defense that gave up 16 fewer goals than the previous season," Head Coach Nelson Larson said. "Probably one of the most beat-up and scarred players in Willamette history due to his unselfish and acrobatic efforts, Eben dedicated himself to helping the Bearcats become more successful."

In four seasons at WU, Hellekson was a goalkeeper in 34 games with 26 starts (he also played in 11 games in the midfield as a freshman in 2007). He earned a career goals against average of 1.83 with 135 saves in 2504 minutes in goal.

"Eben made some of the most ridiculous saves this season on chances that would have been goals against most other 'keepers, and he did that on a regular basis throughout the season," Larson said. "He has definitely set the bar high for the next goalie who takes over between the pipes.

Leadership Award, Most Inspirational Award - Pete Kline (Sr., D)

Pete KlineKline started all 19 games on defense this fall and led the team with 1,775 minutes played. He provided exceptional effort and determination on defense and also earned two shots (both on goal) while moving into the attack. His defensive efforts helped WU limit opponents to 26 goals.

"Pete has always played with his heart on his sleeve and played his hardest every time he stepped onto the field," Larson commented. "He put a lot of hard work into our program during his four years. He was recognized in 2009 with the Most Improved and Most Inspirational awards.

"He showed us all what it is like to play at or above your potential for an entire season," Larson added.

During his career, Kline saw action in 70 games and started 59 matches. He provided many quality passes on free kicks and ranked second on the 2006 team with five assists. He finished his career with a total of six assists.

Most Improved Award - James Neal (Jr., Fr. eligibility, GK)

James NealNeal joined the Bearcats in 2010 for his first season of college soccer. He previously played soccer for three seasons at Ballard High School in Seattle, Wash., where he was chosen team MVP as a senior.

"James is a junior academically, but joined the team last spring," Larson noted. "The growth that James showed for someone without previously playing or training at the college level was remarkable.

"By the end of the season James was pushing Eben (Hellekson) to stay on his game and we knew he had earned the right to step in at anytime if he was needed. James will make a push to become the starter next season," Larson said.

Eben Hellekson was chosen team MVP after earning a 1.41 goals against average.

Eben Hellekson was chosen team MVP after earning a 1.41 goals against average.