While Peninsula junior Benjamin Undem sat behind veteran goalkeeper Ethan Martin the past two seasons, he didn’t sit around and sulk. He used the opportunity to get better, so that when his chance to start came, he would be ready.
“(Martin) prepared me really well,” Undem said. “He worked with me every practice. That was awesome.”
Everything Martin did — from his in-game to performance, to warming up — resonated with Undem.
“His warmup is something that I hadn’t ever done before,” Undem said. “He just worked through all the key stuff. And on top of that, he’s just a nice guy.”
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Peninsula coach Brad Scandrett said Undem learned a lot in those two seasons.
“He was consistent,” Scandrett said. “He worked hard and honed his craft.”
So now, as a junior, Undem’s name has been called on, with Martin graduating. Undem has been prepared, and has delivered for Scandrett.
With a strong defense in front of him, Undem has thrived this year, being a big part of Peninsula’s 9-1-1 Class 3A South Sound Conference record. Undem and the Seahawks have only conceded six goals this season. Undem has six clean sheets to his name this season.
In Peninsula’s stiffest test of the season so far, against Central Kitsap last week (the only team that has beat Peninsula this year), Undem was a difference-maker from the first kick.
In the first minute of the game, he leaped to make a crucial diving save to keep the Cougars off the score sheet early.
“It was a massive save,” Scandrett said.
Scandrett told Undem before the game, “You’re the best keeper in the league.”
Against the Cougars, he certainly looked the part.
I really think he is (the best). We have a great defense so he doesn’t often have to do much, which makes him have to stay awake and alive and on his toes. That was a huge save.
Brad Scandrett, Peninsula coach
“I really think he is (the best),” Scandrett said. “We have a great defense so he doesn’t often have to do much, which makes him have to stay awake and alive and on his toes. That was a huge save. To go down early is massive.”
Going down early against Central Kitsap would have been an all-too-familiar tale for the Seahawks. Last season, in the district playoffs, Peninsula conceded three goals to the Cougars in the first 10 minutes of the game. While the Seahawks fought back admirably, the deficit was ultimately too much to overcome, as Peninsula fell, 3-2, ending its season.
Not this year, if Undem has anything to say about it.
Once I get in the game and get in the zone, I just do my thing.
Benjamin Undem, Peninsula junior keeper
“Once I get in the game and get in the zone, I just do my thing,” Undem said.
That’s not to say Undem is immune to making mistakes. He was bumped and mistimed his jump slightly on a Central Kitsap free kick, leading to a goal in last week’s contest. But Scandrett had all the confidence in the world that Undem would bounce back.
“He’s a hard worker, and mentally, he’s getting tougher and tougher and tougher,” Scandrett said. “He’s always been a great keeper.”
And now the rest of the league is finding that out. Perhaps soon, the rest of the state will find out as well.