Athlete of the Week: Ander leading Mutiny into playoffs

ander

When Jon Ander made the trans-Atlantic trip from his native Spain a year and a half ago, he couldn’t have imagined he would be leading the Myrtle Beach Mutiny to a record-setting season.

But the striker is leading the team in scoring and has helped the team earn its first-ever NPSL playoff berth. Not bad for a player from an NAIA school, St. Andrews University, in Laurinburg, NC.

“I came to the U.S. to study and play at St. Andrews, and my coach, Stevan Hernandez, told me about the possibility to play (for the Mutiny),” said Ander, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his recent play. “I came to tryouts in February and made it. It’s a great opportunity for me to play at the next level.”

Ander has certainly stepped up to the challenge, scoring five goals and dishing out a pair of assists in the Mutiny’s three matches. His goal in Myrtle Beach’s 3-1 victory over the FC Discovery allowed the Mutiny to clinch a franchise first playoff bid with a 7-1-1 record.

So how has he and his teammates from all walks of life blended together so well so quickly? Ander, who also is nominated for the NPSL Player of the Week, credits their time together off the pitch as much as their work on it.

“I live in the same house with about 10 other guys on the team, so we know and understand each other well and we have a lot of fun,” Ander said. “Most of all, we are all competitors. We want to challenge ourselves by playing against the best teams in the nation.”

The Mutiny will get their chance, if they can afford it. The team’s next challenge is raising enough funds to finance their playoff plans. Possible first-round destinations could send them as far as Miami, San Antonio, TX, or Wichita, KS, and future rounds could be even farther. The team is trying to raise funds by offering five sponsors a spot on a special warm-up jersey for a $1,000 tax-deductible donation.

Until then, the Mutiny have three more regular-season matches to try to clinch the Southern Division title and wrap up a home playoff bid. Wednesday’s home game provides one of two remaining home games to raise funds for the playoffs, and the Mutiny hopes local soccer fans will come out and support the cause.

“We have seen more people coming out,” Ander said. “I think the (Women’s) World Cup has helped raise some interest, and we have been winning. We want everyone to come out and support us. We have a really good team and we want to go all the way.”

Photo courtesy of MB Mutiny

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