by Rick Kindhart
Missouri State men’s soccer standout Matthew Bentley was announced Monday as the recipient of the university’s 2020 Virgil Cheek Award.
The annual honor is bestowed on the graduating Missouri State University male student-athlete best demonstrating high qualities in scholarship, character, attendance, leadership and athletic performance. The award has been presented annually since 1955 and is named in honor of the long-time Missouri State faculty athletics representative and business faculty member.
Voting is conducted by Missouri State’s six men’s intercollegiate athletics head coaches.
Bentley graduated magna cum laude in May with a 3.94 grade-point average in Economics. He was selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-America first team and was a semifinalist for the Mac Hermann Trophy in 2019.
The London native was named 2019 Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year and was an All-MVC first teamer. He also landed on the first team of the All-West Region after leading the MVC in goals (15), points (34), and game-winning goals (6) his senior season.
His six game-winning goals, including the clincher in the NCAA Tournament win over Denver, tied for the most in school history while his single-season total for goals and points ranked second and third, respectively. He closed out MSU’s perfect 2019 regular season with an eight-game scoring streak during which he scored 11 goals. At the conclusion of his collegiate career, Bentley was drafted by Minnesota United FC in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft.
Other finalists for this year’s award were Keandre Cook (basketball) and Antonio Thomas (swimming and diving).
Bentley is the fourth soccer player in the last nine years – and sixth all-time — to earn this prestigious student-athlete honor.