The lengthy list of professional players produced by the Valparaiso University men’s soccer program added a new name on Friday as Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) signed a professional contract with Lansing Ignite, a founding member of USL League One, pending league and federation approval.
Mentzingen graduated in December 2018 with a grade point average above 3.8 in economics. He achieved numerous honors during his time at Valpo as he was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Second Team in both 2017 and 2018 while also earning first-team all-conference in both years on campus.
“I’ve been blessed to recruit and coach more than 30 professional players in my time at Notre Dame, Louisville and now Valpo,” head coach Mike Avery said. “I knew within five minutes of watching Rafa play that he was destined for this. He’s a special player and he will be a great pro. More impressive to me, though, has always been his humility, his discipline and his commitment to his academics and his teammates. Rafa is the whole package and we are thrilled for him to be our next #valPRO.”
Mentzingen also earned MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team honors this year. Last season, he was an MVC All-Tournament Team honoree in addition to the all-region and all-conference achievements. He finished his two-year Valpo career with 11 goals, three assists and 25 points.
“Rafa changes matches. He has that quality and explosiveness that makes watching the game exciting,” Lansing Ignite head coach Nate Miller said in a release. “He has a way about him that will really ignite our supporters and spark big moments in each match. Rafa is also a great teammate that will do the necessary work to make the whole team succeed. I rate Rafa very high and think he will make the difference in many matches.”
Mentzingen is the third player to sign with Lansing Ignite, a club based in Lansing, Mich. The team will begin practice in February in advance of the first match in Richmond, Va. on March 30.