April 3, 2012
BLAINE, Minn. – Former Oakland standout goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt has signed a professional contract to play for the Minnesota Stars of the North American Soccer League, the team announced on Tuesday. The Stars are the defending NASL champions.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to begin my professional career,” said Hildebrandt. “The entire setup is first class, starting with my teammates who are all great guys and very talented. We also have a great coaching staff headed by Manny Lagos who really knows how to get the best out of all of the players.”
Hildebrandt was a three-time All-Summit League selection at Oakland. He was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year following the 2009 season, where he posted a 0.73 goals-against average, which ranked among the best in the NCAA.
During his tenure in goal at OU, Hildebrandt played in two NCAA Tournament matches, including a shutout at Ohio State. He helped the team capture a regular season title in 2009 and a league tournament title in 2010. Hildebrandt finished his career with 249 saves and kept a clean sheet in 19 matches.
Hildebrandt kept busy in the offseason playing for the Michigan Bucks of the Professional Development League. In his final season with the club, he led the league with 12 shutouts and was named the PDL Goalkeeper of the Year and was a finalist for the league MVP award.
“I’ve wanted this for a long time,” said Hildebrandt. “Now that it’s happened, it’s exciting but the reality has also set in that it’s a job. Now you have to come out every day and perform. At this level you are not only playing for your passion, but also for your livelihood.”
At Minnesota, Hildebrandt will be one of three goalkeepers competing for the starting job, which recently opened up following the retirement of long-time net-minder Joe Warren.
The Minnesota Stars open the season on April 7 with a home match against the Carolina Railhawks at the Metrodome. For more information on the team visit http://mnstarsfc.com.