When the Major League Soccer SuperDraft returns to Philadelphia in January, Delaware native Ben Lundgaard is likely one of the names you will hear called.
But talking about the Virginia Tech senior’s draft prospect - his mom already has the date circled on the calendar - is a bit premature given the other big event coming to the region in December, the College Cup in early December at Talen Energy Stadium.
That the two biggest college soccer events of the year will both be close to where Lundgaard grew up in the Wilmington suburb of Greenville is another in a series of opportunities he has had since his national profile grew with Virginia Tech’s unlikely run to the NCAA Tournament last season.
“Now that (the national attention) is becoming a reality, I need to focus on the big picture and not get sucked into all the media,” Lundgaard said in a recent phone interview.
This attention only intensified over the summer with Lundgaard’s performances for New York Red Bulls U23 in the Premier Development League. Being around the New York Red Bulls over the summer - getting to meet and interact with players like Luis Robles - was a big learning experience.
“It really opened my eyes to the way other teams train and it helped me develop and see what the professional lifestyle and game is like,” said Lundgaard, who spent the previous summer with Fresno Fuego in the PDL. “I hope to bring all that back to Tech.”
Lundgaard was recently named PDL Goalkeeper of the Year after finishing 7th in the league’s Top 50 prospect rankings and made NCAA.com’s list of eight Names to Know for the upcoming season. Still more accolades are sure to come ahead of the Hokies’ season opener against Creighton on August 25.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound goalkeeper enters his final college season with 17 clean sheets in 50 career games and a 1.11 career goals against average. Perhaps one of his finest performances in college came against in-state rival Virginia and their own highly-rated goalkeeper Jefferson Caldwell last season.
Bill Reno, who writes about goalkeepers on his EverybodySoccer.com website, pointed to that game as a good illustration of Lundgaard’s ability and confidence at the position. At the end of last season, Reno ranked Lundgaard behind only Caldwell among college juniors.
“There’s never really a situation that overwhelms him,” Reno said, noting that Lundgaard is really involved in all aspects of the game. “He’s yelling at the offense on the other side of the field. He wants to be part of the entire game.”
Individual and team success isn’t new for Lundgaard, who starred at perennial Delaware high school power Salesianum School and for Delaware Rush in the youth club circuit.
“I didn’t grow up with an MLS academy,” Lundgaard said. “It was just a group of guys trying to make it to the next level.”
He regularly hears from many of his old coaches - guys like Scott Mosier, Andy Vanover, Dan Frick and Justin Romano - receiving congratulatory texts when he does well, encouragement to keep his head up when he’s struggling. He looks forward to getting to share the moment his professional dreams are realized with several of his coaches and family members present at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in January.
“I just have to do my part to make it there first,” he said.