After last week’s updates on former Des Moines Menace players making their mark in NCAA Division I, we turn our attention to the Division II and NAIA ranks.
The 2009 Menace’s top two scorers – Ben Taylor (D-II Drury) and Armin Mujdzic (NAIA Grand View) – have helped their teams to success in the first half of the college season. So have Samuel Asante (Lindsey Wilson College) and Yuki Kariya (Auburn-Montgomery), two of the Menace’s 2009 scoring leaders who faced each other last weekend in a battle of ranked NAIA teams.
Taylor and Grant Bowden start for No. 6 Drury, one of two remaining undefeated D-II teams. With an 11-0 record, the Panthers are enjoying the best start in the Springfield, Mo., school’s history.
Taylor, the spiky-haired Scotsman who led the 2009 Premier Development League Heartland Division champion Menace with 13 points, has collected seven goals and four assists for the high-octane Panthers. Drury has outscored opponents 41-3.
Bowden is a Waukee High School grad and former Menace Academy Player of the Year who came off the bench for the PDL team last summer. He has started all 11 matches for a Drury defense that recorded nine consecutive shutouts. Bowden also has a pair of assists.
Taylor and Bowden will reunite with former Menace teammate Bradley Barraclough on Sunday in Louisville. Barraclough plays for Bellarmine University – also a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. After leading the GLVC in goals a year ago, the England native has scored six goals, sharing the lead for the 7-3-1 Knights.
One other former Des Moines player, Pat Laughlin, is having a successful season in D-II. Laughlin, a reserve with the 2009 Menace, has two goals and an assist for Denver-based Metro State. The Roadrunners (6-4-1) dropped out of the top 25, after a 3-0 loss at No. 15 Colorado Mines last week.
We move on to NAIA, where Asante and his Lindsey Wilson College teammates own a national No. 3 ranking and a 6-1 mark after topping Kariya’s No. 15 Auburn-Montgomery team, 1-0, at Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday.
Asante, the fleet-footed Ghana refugee who dazzled Menace fans in 2009, came off the bench in Saturday’s nonconference match, notching four of the Blue Raiders’ 10 shots on goal. Asante has five starts, one goal and an assist in his first season with the Columbia, Ky., school.
Kariya, a native of Japan, starts for the Senators, who are 6-2-2. AUM teammate Nik Chamberlain, who was also a member of the Menace last summer, is sitting out this season as he recovers from a knee injury.
Stefan De Las, a former Menace defender (2008-2009) from Trinidad & Tobago, is in his final season with Graceland (Lamoni, Ia.), a team that has fallen out of the NAIA rankings. The Yellow Jackets are 2-4 since opening the season with three straight wins, including a 4-0 blanking of Division-I Western Illinois and a 1-0 double-overtime defeat of Grand View in Des Moines.
Mujdzic leads Grand View with nine goals and three assists in his comeback season. After starring for the Vikings from 2003-2005, the 26-year-old senior is making the most of his final college action. The 2002 Urbandale High School grad – a member of the Menace in 2002-2007 and 2009 – was named Midwest Collegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Week after his Sept. 4 hat trick in a 3-0 win at Northwestern College.
Former Menace Academy player Sam Weeks has scored a couple goals for Grand View. The West Des Moines native, who suited up for the Menace’s 2009 exhibition opener, tallied both of his scores in a 7-0 win over Waldorf on Sept. 30.
After defeating Iowa Wesleyan, 5-1, last night, the Vikings are 7-4-1 overall and 3-0-1 in conference play. They’re down to their two final home games of the season. Blair Reid’s team hosts Clarke College this Saturday and returns to Cownie Soccer Complex one final time on Oct. 21, against nationally ranked Park University.