Canterbury seniors Ben Kunce and Keegan McArdle named News-Sentinel 2017 Boys Soccer Players of the Year

Ben Kunce, left, and Keegan McArdle celebrate Canterbury's sectional championship win, the first stop on the Cavaliers' way to a Class A state title. (Photo by Dan Vance of News-Sentinel.com)
Canterbury's Keegan McArdle, left, fights for possession of the ball during a game this season. (Photo by Dan Vance of News-Sentinel.com)
Ben Kunce of Canterbury moves the ball during practice prior to the state championship game. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of News-Sentinel.com)
Ben Kunce
Keegan McArdle

Canterbury High School boys soccer coach Greg Mauch received the text message after his Cavaliers won the regional title.

Merrillville’s longtime coach Brian Past was in the broadcast booth and had been watching Canterbury midfielder Ben Kunce and sweeper Keegan McArdle.

“Those guys remind me of Sharpe and Schwartz,” Past texted to Mauch.

That would be Blake Sharpe and Kyle Schwartz, who led Canterbury to the state title in 2001, beating Merrillville in the semifinal game. Sharpe went on to play at the University of South Florida and Schwartz at Indiana. “They were both great players back in the day,” Mauch said.

The comparison proved apt.

Kunce and McArdle lived up to the hype, leading Canterbury to the Class A state title this year. For their contributions as players and captains, they are the 2017 News-Sentinel Boys Soccer Co-Players of the Year.

“Both of them, in their own way, are way off the charts in their leadership and their play on the field,” Mauch said.

Kunce and McArdle were responsible for helping set the tone of the team as captains. They were also responsible, when the team started 3-5-2 against quality competition, to help maintain the focus that was necessary to its playoff run. Canterbury switched its scheme at mid-season and both players helped in that, too.

“I would definitely say we got the most out of this team,” McArdle said. “A big part of that was the seniors on this team and how everyone came together and knew what we had to do to succeed.”

Kunce being a key scorer and passer as part of the offense and McArdle being the defensive centerpiece made them both invaluable.

Mauch praised both for embracing their roles.

Kunce scored 15 goals with 10 assists. McArdle keyed a defense that allowed only two goals in the postseason.

“For Ben to be able to lead us in scoring and assists is pretty unsual,” Mauch said. “Usually you’re a scorer or you’re a passer. He brought those other players along with him. Our schedule was very difficult, so for him to get 15 goals against our schedule was just remarkable. One night we didn’t have him because of some SAT stuff and I’m not sure we got a shot off that night.”

Kunce remembers how the off-season helped set the stage for meshing with McArdle as captains.

“In the beginning of the summer, Keegan and I held a few captains’ practices, with everyone who was willing to play soccer in some pickup games,” Kunce said. “Keegan and I found out we could be good at it together. I was always a lead-by-example and Keegan was more a vocal leader, always staying positive. I think we were both very good examples on and off the field, and in the classroom for younger students who could see what good student leaders do.”

On the field, Kunce served as a catalyst to the offense, and McArdle held the defense together.

After Mick Clark scored on a rebound off a Kunce shot late in the state championship game to put Canterbury ahead 2-1 on Covenant Christian, McArdle exhorted his teammates for finish the job.

“I basically looked at our defense, at Ryan (Worman) and Isaac (Williams) and said, ‘We’re not letting in another goal,’ “ McArdle said. “We hung together and it was just a great feeling.”

Again, Mauch emphasized the leadership of McArdle in that defense.

“He made sure guys were on their marks, and not just on their marks but on the right side for us, positioned properly,” Mauch said. “He kept everybody organized and he’s such a smart defender, with such a high soccer IQ. We went from giving up a couple goals a game to a whole lot of shutouts down the stretch.”

Both players left their mark on the program from a leadership standpoint, Mauch said.

“We were 3-5-2 at one point but because of their attitude – what do we do to fix things and move on? – they kept the guys focused,” Mauch said. “They never got down on each other, they brought a healthy attitude. We’re going to do this. What’s the next step? The way they brought everyone with them was tremendous.”

INDIANA SOCCER COACHES ASSOCIATION

ALL-DISTRICT (District 2)

Name, position, school

First team

Colin Coplen, GK, Carroll

Marco Navarro, D, Homestead

Saleh Ali, M, North Side

Denilson Madrid, F, Northrop

Ben Kunce, F, Canterbury

Keegan McArdle, D, Canterbury

Max Miller, F, Concordia Lutheran

Erdwin Quintana, F, Northrop

Noah Thomas, D, Concordia Lutheran

Second team

Josh Good, F, DeKalb

Connor Williams, M, Homestead

Pedro Lopez, M, North Side

Caleb Smith, M, Huntington North

Connor Carr, M, Carroll

SAC FIRST TEAM

Adam Gotschalk, F, Concordia Lutheran

Denilson Madrid, F, Northrop

Erdwin Quintana, F, Northrop

Nyein Aung, F, North Side

Pedro Lopez, F, North Side

Jacob Sassmannshausen, M, Concordia Lutheran

Jaxon Simerman, M, Bishop Dwenger

Saleh Ali, M, North Side

Alejandro Buendia, M, South Side

Noah Thomas, D, Concordia Lutheran

Yusef Abdirahman, D, Northrop

Leo Nino, D, Northrop

Nghia Nguyen, D, North Side

Refik Dogruyol, D, Wayne

Alex Hernandez, GK, Northrop

NE8 FIRST TEAM

Sam Poling, GK, Huntington North

Dusty Loshe, GK, Bellmont

Jordan Fuelling, D, Bellmont

Andrew Kaylor, D, Huntington North

Will Lengacher, D, Leo

Jacob Williams, D, DeKalb

Caleb Smith, M, Huntington North

Tucker Reinoehl, M, DeKalb

Michael Klein, M, East Noble

Colin Wood, M, Columbia City

Josh Good, F, DeKalb

Cory Thatcher, F, East Noble

Reid Sproat, F, Leo

Sean Werling, F, Bellmont

ACAC FIRST TEAM

Zar Kyi Kan, F, Heritage

Daniel Fugiett, F, Jay County

Ser Dig Car, F, Woodlan

Victor Vasquez, M, South Adams

Zay Ya, M, Heritage

Garrett Ternet, M, Heritage

Matt Paquette, D, Jay County

Israel Vaides, D, Woodlan

Nick Wyss, D, Heritage

Adam Koenig, GK, Heritage

Angel Perez, at large, Jay County

COMMENTS