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Bulldog Men’s Soccer’s Schunk Inks Deal with Rapids

March 17, 2009 -

University of Redlands men's soccer senior forward Ross Schunk (Portland, OR) officially made his professional soccer dreams a reality as he signed a professional developmental contract with the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer (MLS), according to an announcement today by the Colorado Rapids media relations department.

His road to making the Rapids' roster started when he was invited to the MLS Combine.

Following a successful showing at the combine, Colorado took Schunk with the 47th pick of the MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 15, and with the selection, he earned an invitation to the Rapids' training camp.

He made it through the first round of cuts after the first two weeks of training, and he earned the opportunity to travel with the team to its training site in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The three-time All-SCIAC recipient then saw action early on in preseason matches. Schunk cracked the starting lineup in the squad's Feb. 17 contest against FC Dallas, but the Rapids fell in the end by a 0-1 margin.

Schunk's final appearance of the preseason came against the San Jose Earthquakes on Feb. 27, and Colorado Head Coach Gary Smith noted his "good display" in the Rapids' official blog following a 0-2 loss.

With the signing, he gains a spot on Colorado's 24-man roster and is listed as a forward.

Perez, who coached in MLS for 10 years, said that the league decreased its roster size this year and shrunk the number of professional developmental contracts to just four.

"This year has proved to be the toughest to make an MLS roster [as a player]," he said. "The previous roster number was 28, but they cut it down to 24 this year. The full senior roster includes 20 men while the remaining four slots are reserved for professional developmental players."

Schunk overcame improbable odds to make the roster, being the only NCAA Division III representative invited to the combine and drafted. He was subsequently the lone Division III student-athlete to sign a contract with an MLS team in 2009.

"I just took advantage of every opportunity I got," Schunk said. "I got one opportunity, took advantage of it and then continued to do the same for subsequent opportunities. In the back of my head, I was always thinking about it. All along, I just wanted to set one goal at a time."

While his ascension to the professional ranks was unlikely, Perez maintains that Schunk reaped the fruit of his labor.

"I'm not shocked, nor surprised," Perez said. "I'm pleasantly happy. Ross was a great player in college, worked hard at the training camp and deserved the contract."

The signing, he said, gives both Division III soccer and Redlands a good name.

"Ross has been a great ambassador for Division III, but more importantly, he's been a great ambassador for the University of Redlands," he said. "I have to give credit to my predecessors, [former Head Coach] Rob Becerra and [former Assistant Coach] B.J. Noble, for getting him to Redlands, but the credit really goes to Ross and his family. Ross did what he had to do to get where he is and worked extremely hard."

Schunk joins Adam Acosta '05 among the short list of Bulldog men's soccer players that have gone on to compete in MLS. Acosta signed as an undrafted free agent with Real Salt Lake in 2006 but is no longer an active member of a MLS team.

As a Bulldog student-athlete, he became the most prolific scorer in Redlands history. He set the career program record for goals (63) and points (139) while garnering three First-Team All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) honors, two SCIAC Player of the Year awards, two College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA)/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District recognitions, three National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas® All-Far West Region laurels and two NSCAA/adidas® All-American nominations.

The Rapids start their season in Los Angeles as they take on Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on March 21. Last year, Colorado went 11-14-5 and finished fourth in the Western Standings.

Due to club and league policy, contract details are undisclosed.

For team and ticket information, visit the Rapids online at http://www.coloradorapids.com/.

Contact: Brian Savard brian_savard@redlands.edu 909-748-8438 (Phone)

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