WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Max Weber and Stephen Phillips, captains of the Whitman College men's soccer squad, are among the winners of 2007 team awards.
Weber, a senior who battled injuries the past two seasons, was named the team's Most Inspirational Player. Phillips, a junior who led Whitman in scoring for a second consecutive season, was voted the team's Most Valuable Player award by his teammates.
Phillips, a midfielder, also took home the Best Offensive Player award, while junior goalkeeper Brett Axelrod was voted Best Defensive Player. Three players -- junior Mike McKenzie, sophomore Todd Wallenius and freshman Cooper Crosby -- shared the Most Improved award.
Weber, a midfielder and graduate of Great Falls (Mont.) High School, came to Whitman after two seasons as a starter at Walla Walla Community College, where he also served as a team captain. In two injury-marred seasons at Whitman, he played in 20 games, 13 as a starter.
Weber, a psychology major, was an obvious choice for this year's Most Inspirational award, Whitman coach Mike Washington said. "His ability to lead is second to none," Washington said. "Max has high expectations of his team, and he pushed himself and others to overachieve. He was a huge part of our team's success on and off the field."
In addition to his work on behalf of the soccer team, Weber contributes to a number of campus committees, Washington said. "Max also works a couple of jobs and has a full academic load at Whitman. He's just a born leader."
Phillips as the team's MVP and Best Offensive Player was another obvious choice. His 12 goals and three assists made him the second-leading scorer in the Northwest Conference this past fall. Three of his four game-winning goals came against NWC opponents. His most dramatic goal came with just 90 seconds left in overtime to lift Whitman to a 2-1 victory over Pacific. Phillips joined senior teammate Andy Huntington in earning All-NWC First Team honors..
Axelrod, a three-year starter at goalkeeper, had four shutouts on the season and limited eight other opponents to a single goal. Three of his shutouts came against NWC opponents, and he earned a spot on the All-NWC Second Team.
Axelrod also scored his first college point in Whitman's season-opening victory at La Sierra University. He was credited with an assist when his long punt carried well past the midfield stripe and bounced at the feet of a teammate who then beat the keeper one-on-one.
McKenzie, one of the three winners of the Most Improved Award, moved into a starting role on defense this fall. He played in 20 games, starting 18, after having played in just five games as a sophomore. He also contributed one goal and one assist on the offensive side of the field.
"Mike was part of a very good back line for us," Washington said. "He did a solid job marking players on the opposing teams, and he looks good going forward with the ball. "Mike also has a great fitness base and played almost every minute of every game."
Wallenius, a sophomore playing his first season of college soccer, scored three goals to go with one assist as a reserve forward. "Todd has become more a physical threat for us," Washington said. "He worked hard last spring and summer on strength training and refining his game. We hope his dedication stays at that high level."
Crosby claimed a starting role in the middle of Whitman's back line in his first season. "Cooper is a very hard worker who gets the job done, and who got stronger as the season progressed," Washington said. "He's also very good in the air. When he's part of an air duel, he's the winner in most cases."