Feb. 11, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame men's soccer player Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) and women's soccer standout Brittany Bock (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) were each awarded $2,000 towards graduate studies as institutional winners of the 2008-09 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete award.
Besler, a central defender, played every minute this season and helped the Irish post seven shutouts along with tallying three points on a goal and an assist. The two-time team captain helped Notre Dame register a 12-7-2 record this season and earn the No. 12 seed in the NCAA Championship.
On January 15, Besler was selected eighth overall in the first round of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft by his home state Kansas City Wizards, marking the highest a Notre Dame player had ever been taken in the MLS draft. Just two days later, he was named the 2008 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar Athlete of the Year. Besler is the first student-athlete in program history to earn the distinguished honor.
In the classroom, Besler finished with a 3.518 cumulative grade-point average and graduated in December with a degree in pre-professional studies and psychology from Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters. Besler was named to the Dean's List in the fall of 2008 after posting a 3.846 semester GPA.
Besler earned first-team All-America honors from the NSCAA in addition to garnering first-team Academic All-America accolades from ESPN the Magazine and the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He is the first Notre Dame men's soccer player to be named a first-team All-American and a first-team Academic All-American. Last season, he was selected to the NSCAA Scholar All-American second team. The Kansas product also earned his third straight all-conference honor this season as he was named to the all-BIG EAST first team.
For his career, Besler played in 90 games, including 73 starts. He started every match over the past three seasons and only missed one game during his collegiate career. Besler totaled 17 points on five goals and seven assists in an Irish uniform. He helped Notre Dame gain four straight berths to the NCAA Championship, including the program's first two trips to the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2007.
This past season Bock, who plays at both the midfield and forward positions, was a co-captain for the Irish. She helped the squad post an undefeated regular season, win the BIG EAST tournament and make a run to the national title game. Bock played in 22 games, while making 17 starts. She ranked third on the team in scoring with 21 points (6G-9A).
Bock also is a two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American (including a first-team honoree this year) while compiling a 3.365 cumulative GPA as a marketing major in Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. She garnered dean's list honors in the spring 2008 term (3.70 GPA) and had an impressive 3.834 GPA this past summer. Bock also is a member of Notre Dame's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She is just the 12th student-athlete in Notre Dame athletics history (and the second Irish women's soccer player) to garner All-America and Academic All-America honors in the same year on two occasions.
The 2007 BIG EAST Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Bock ranks 12th in school history with 46 goals and 121 points in her career. She was part of a senior class that posted a 92-10-3 mark in four years with the Irish. Bock and the rest of the class of 2009 appeared in three NCAA College Cups, including two trips to the national title game. On January 16, Bock was the first Notre Dame player to come off the board in the inaugural Women's Professional Soccer Draft, going fifth overall to the Los Angeles Sol.
The BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Awards were established to recognize student-athletes who have achieved success in the classroom and on the field. The Conference's Academic Affairs Committee makes the selections. On the women's side, University of Connecticut field hockey player Jennifer Kleinhans was named the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year. University of South Florida men's soccer player Zak Boggs won the BIG EAST Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award.