COSTA MESA, Calif. – Vanguard was chosen as the 2013 recipient of the coveted Buffalo Funds-NAIA Men's Soccer Champions of Character Team Award. The Buffalo Funds Five Star award was created to recognize one team in every sport, regardless of whether they qualify for nationals, based upon their documented display of exemplary character and sportsmanship during practice, competition, on campus, and in the community.
"Receiving this award is a great reward for some intentional changes that we have made in our program this year," Director of Soccer Randy Dodge said. "We really altered our recruiting strategy last year and the result was bringing in a lot of high character guys to mesh with the core of great kids that we had returning. I have to give a lot of the credit to strong leadership from our upperclassmen, who really stepped up this year on and off of the field. I am very proud that we were chosen for this award. It represents what our athletic department is about and generates more positive national recognition for our university."
The VU men's program has been selected for the honor 12 times since the NAIA began sponsoring the award. Dodge has been at the helm of the program since 2003.
"The aim for this year's team was noticeably different," junior Luis Valdivia said. "We had a very team-focused mentality. We all tried to contribute toward making this season special and we were able to build some great relationships. The humility of our senior captain, Bryan Ponce, played a huge role in the progress that we made this year."
Vanguard's award was announced during the 2013 National Championship.