Star on the horizon

Goalie Kendall McIntosh ’15 joins SCU’s soccer team with an already impressive career—and more is on the way.

You might say freshman Kendall McIntosh ’15 owes his emergence as one of the most promising goalkeepers in the country to getting a late start.

By the time McIntosh’s focus shifted from basketball and baseball to soccer, he was a 9-year-old neophyte competing against boys who’d been playing the sport for half their young lives. So his mother pushed him to try the one position where his hands still mattered—goalkeeper.

It proved to be a prescient move. Later this month, McIntosh will head to Mexico for the latest installment of a sparkling youth career, joining the U.S. Under-20 National team in the 2013 CONCACAF championship, which features the best teams from North and Central America. The top four teams will advance to the Under-20 World Cup this summer in Turkey.

Playing for his country is nothing new for McIntosh, a member of Santa Clara’s soccer team. He has represented the United States at numerous levels, including the Under-17 World Cup, where the U.S. team progressed to the 16th round before bowing out 4–0 to a German team laden with professionals. Even in the rout, McIntosh distinguished himself.

“The goalkeeping position is not so much about running around being super-active, it’s a lot about thinking.”

As the Sporting News reported: “The result would have been far uglier for the Americans if not for goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh, who made a series of acrobatic—sometimes point-blank—saves that kept the score line somewhat respectable.”

For all McIntosh’s obvious athleticism, Eric Yamamoto ’90, MBA ’95, SCU’s assistant coach, stresses the mental attributes that have allowed him to thrive—his work ethic, his coolness under pressure, and especially his ability to read the game. It’s a point that McIntosh echoes when asked about his success.

“The goalkeeping position is not so much about running around being super-active, it’s a lot about thinking,” says McIntosh, who grew up in Santa Rosa. “One of my strengths as a person is that I love to learn and I love to analyze situations. It’s a perfect fit.”

With a father who played basketball for Harvard and a brother who played soccer at Duke, McIntosh is well acquainted with the importance of being a thinker on and off the field of play. A serious student, he graduated from high school a semester early to start his college career.

He chose SCU in large part because of the trust he’d built up with the coaches, particularly Yamamoto, an All-American goalie during his student days at SCU, who has long experience working with the youth national teams. “It was a great opportunity for me to come in and learn from him,” McIntosh says.

The decision was a major reason, the online bible of collegiate soccer, ranked SCU’s recruiting class last year as the seventh best in the nation. But with only one goalkeeping spot on the field, even McIntosh, an elite five-star recruit, had to sit most of last season as senior Larry Jackson ’13, the eventual 2012 WCC Goalkeeper of the Year, held down the starting role.

McIntosh, who gets added respect from his coaches for his maturity, was philosophical about having to wait. Not playing, he admits, was frustrating, but it was a great way to absorb lessons from older players: “It’s a great way to grow as a person.”

With Jackson’s graduation, McIntosh figures to play a vastly expanded role in Santa Clara’s next campaign. Of course, he’s got some business in Mexico to attend to first.

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