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Jan. 31, 2013

Stuver soars in SuperDraft

By Patrick Elder

Brad Stuver

Cleveland State senior Brad Stuver is trading in his green for blue after he was selected by the Montreal Impact in the MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 17.

With his selection, Stuver, 21, became the first ever MLS draft pick from Cleveland State. He is not the first MLS player from Cleveland State though, as he joins fellow alum Josh Williams (of the Columbus Crew) in the league.

“When I was drafted I was completely stunned,” Stuver said. “I was overjoyed. All the work I have put in over the years finally paid off, and I was right to put my faith in my goalkeeping coach and agent Denny Ciornei, who has made me the goalkeeper I am today. He worked extremely hard selling me to the MLS teams.”

Ciornei — Cleveland State’s goalkeeping coach, former professional goalkeeper and founder of the Ciornei Goalkeeping Academy — says he saw this future for Stuver the first day he watched him in action. “He’s just something apart,” Ciornei said. “I always knew there was something special, from the very beginning. Day one.”

Stuver was the 32nd overall draft pick in addition to being the first goalkeeper selected. This was a surprise for many, including Brad, as he wasn’t a highly publicized name going into the draft because of Cleveland State’s comparatively small stature as an athletics program.

“I honestly did not think I was going to be drafted in the first two rounds,” Stuver said. “I was very surprised that I was taken so early, because I went to a small school where the press and attention isn’t always there. But I had the right support system around me to help guide me in the right direction.”

Ciornei had high expectations for Brad, but even he was surprised at how high he went. “Expectations are always high in my world, but realistically, I didn’t think he’d go that high,” Ciornei said. “I had a lot of interest in him, though. Over seven MLS teams had interest in him.”

“He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with wherever he goes.”

The Impact is the newest team in the MLS, added to the league in 2012 after residing in the North American Soccer League — the second tier of American soccer, just below MLS — since 1992.

Montreal began scouting Stuver during his sophomore year at Cleveland State, in which he was named the Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year. He also trained with the team during his junior year.

Stuver has already begun training with the team, and says he has enjoyed his brief time in Montreal so far. “Montreal is great, besides it being extremely cold,” Stuver said. “The city is pretty awesome, and the food is good. I just need to work on my French.”

Stuver, a Twinsburg High School graduate, joined Cleveland State’s men’s soccer team in 2009 after receiving All-Ohio honors in his senior season of high school. “I decided to play at CSU because the coaches were my club coaches and I like their style of play,” Stuver said. “CSU was also a chance for me to compete and start for three or four years.”

He began his freshman year on the bench, but by season’s end was the starting goalkeeper, finishing the year with a team-best 58 saves and a Horizon League-best .817 save percentage.

Since then, Stuver has been named to the All-Horizon League second team his junior and senior years, while he was named to the All-Horizon League first team his sophomore year.

His sophomore and senior years saw him honored as a third team All-Great Lakes Region performer.His sophomore year also held Stuver’s most memorable moment, a 2-1 victory over Akron, the top-ranked team in the nation at the time. “I will never forget that day or game,” Stuver said.

Stuver played every single minute of his senior season, in which he recorded 81 saves while posting a .86 goals against average. He also posted 9 shutouts, tied for second most in a season in Cleveland State history.

What he considers his greatest accomplishment at Cleveland State came during the 2012 Horizon League Championship, where he was named MVP after leading Cleveland State to the title, thus securing CSU’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1980.

“Every team before this year since Kaz has been coach has worked to make this program what it is today,” Stuver said. “I am just so grateful to be a part of the team that could make this dream that the program has worked 8 years for come true.

Stuver leaves Cleveland State with a myriad of spots in the school record book. He is first in minutes played (6,937), second in games played (71) and games started by a goalkeeper (67) and third in goals against average (1.13), saves (292) and shutouts (20).