D-C's Ben Stone headed to Eastern Illinois

Dundee-Crown forward-midfielder Ben Stone remembers receiving an important email during a school day last year.

It was from Eastern Illinois University men’s soccer recruiting coordinator Mark Hansen, who Stone says will be the team's head coach next year, indicating that the Panthers had interest in Stone.

“I was like, ‘Geez, it’s all paying off,’ ” Stone said. “That was the first [NCAA] Division I team to contact me.”

Stone liked everything about Eastern – from Hansen to former D-C player Tony Meza, a forward-midfielder for the Panthers – and committed last week to play at the school on an athletic scholarship.

Stone was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection after scoring 11 goals with eight assists for the Chargers, who finished 19-1-1 overall, 6-0 in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division.

“I made multiple visits to Eastern, went to overnight camps there,” said Stone, who played club soccer with Schaumburg-based Chicago Sockers. “The team is great and supportive. Coach Hansen played at Eastern and he’s the one who recruited me. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else in college.”

Stone said he went to a camp before his junior year and again last summer. He also had considered D-II Lewis and D-III powerhouse Loras, but the conversations with Meza, a former high school teammate, assured him Eastern was the choice.

“He showed me around, introduced me to the guys, [Meza] has been awesome,” Stone said. “I got to ask him about the school and he had nothing but good things to say about the school, the guys and the coaches.”