Charlotte (N.C) — On Wednesday, the Charlotte Independence announced the signing of rookie, midfielder Jacob Bender, pending league and U.S. Soccer approval. Last December, the Messiah College standout was named NCAA Division III National Player of the Year.
“The last four weeks have been long, but I feel like I’m making a good decision signing with the Independence,” said Bender. “I feel like I’ve already been a part of the team for the last week or so.”
Last season with Messiah College, Bender scored 13 goals (5 game-winners) and assisted 8 times for the Falcons. In his four-year collegiate career, Bender totalled 21 goals and 15 assists with 60 starts in 86 appearances. In addition to his Division III National Player of the Year award, Bender was named First Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region and First Team All-American.
“Jacob has been a pleasant surprise every week in preseason,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “Obviously, someone from his situation, it's a long stretch to come from a division III program and be a guy that ends up contributing, but we see it as a possibility.”
Bender has garnered attention from the Independence coaching staff, scoring the lone goal in the second half for Charlotte during their fourth preseason game against Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United FC.
The Independence and Bender will be in action this Saturday, April 1st in the 2017 season opener versus the Charleston Battery at Transamerica Field on the campus UNC Charlotte at 7:00 pm ET. Tickets are on sale now at charlotteindependence.com.