AZUSA, Calif.-- After making its first appearance at the NAIA National Tournament final site since 2007, the Cougars had five players honored on the National Christian College Athletics Association’s Western Region team. On the first team Azusa Pacific had each position recognized as forward Nathan Nienhuis, midfielder Trenton Titus, defender Lucas Young, and keeper Joe Geletko were listed, while Jeremy Bishop earned second team honors.
Nathan Nienhuis: The senior from Hudsonville, Mich. finished 4th on the team in goals (5) and assists (4), and notched two game-winning scores this year. Nienhuis gave the Cougars a different look up front, and scored the team’s first goal of the season against Grand Canyon (Ariz.).
“This was Nate’s best year,” said head coach Dave Blomquist. “He gave us a different dimension in our attack and allowed us to vary the way we would attack teams with his pace and ability to get behind opposing defenses.”
Trenton Titus: As one of the most skilled players on the team, Titus often wowed fans and other teams with his footwork in the middle. The junior from Chino Hills was key in the Cougar attack, and racked up five assists (2nd on the team), including a three-assist match against a St. Xavier team that reached the second round of the NAIA Tournament. Titus also earned all-GSAC honors in 2011.
Lucas Young: Azusa Pacific allowed just six goals in GSAC play, finishing the 2011 season as the stingiest team in the conference (giving up a GSAC best 0.83 goals per game) and no other position player was as crucial to the defense as Young.
“He was definitely one of the keys to our success this year,” said Blomquist. “He had a good year last year, and an even better one as a senior. I think he was one of the best defenders in the conference.”
Young also pitched in on the other end, scoring two goals and recording one assist. The senior from Glen Ellyn, Ill. was especially dangerous in set pieces, utilizing his 6-4 frame; most notably when he headed in the game-winner in the 82nd minute off a corner against Westmont.
Joe Geletko: Geletko made tremendous strides in his junior season, posting nine shutouts to go with his .086 GAA. The keeper ran a stretch of 407 scoreless minutes from Sept. 5 all the way until Oct. 5 as he registered four straight shutouts. Geletko also came up big in the GSAC quarterfinals as he saved two attempts in a shootout following the Cougars’ 1-1 double-overtime draw. Geletko also did well in the classroom as he was named an NAIA Scholar Athlete.
Jeremy Bishop: In limited action (due to injury) Bishop excelled in his sophomore season. The midfielder played in 13 matches (started 11) and finished second on the team in goals (6), and third in points (15). Bishop led the team in shots-on-goal percentage (.636) and ignited a dramatic come-from-behind win at Biola with a game-tying score in the 89th minute. The Cougars went on to win 2-1 in overtime. Bishop also scored the golden goal in the team’s final regular season match at Hope International.