Lucas Daunhauer is a rising star in the college game and the NPSL.
The 19-year-old goalkeeper received a strong foundation from Sporting Southern Indiana and Indiana Fire Juniors South before committing to Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he experienced immediate success.
His freshman season was that of legends as he played in 16 out of 17 games, earning GMAC All-Conference Honorable Mention honors and finishing third in NCAA Division II in saves with 95. He was also a nominee for the Kentucky Wesleyan Athletics Male Newcomer of the Year award. He got the job done in the classroom as well, earning a GPA of 3.75.
His start in the NPSL with Demize NPSL has been similarly impressive.
The Evansville, Indiana native has played in five of seven league games, earning a 0.80 GAA to go along with 21 saves. He has showed up big in the biggest of matches, including clean sheets against Club Atletico Saint Louis and Ozark FC, He also led his squad to a win against FC Wichita and a 1-1 draw with conference leaders Tulsa Athletic.
These are experiences he will never forget.
“My favorite memory was my first start for Demize NPSL in which we were able to beat FC Wichita at home,” Daunhauer said. “This was a club that Demize has struggled against in the past. I feel accomplished by the fact that I was able to earn playing time in such a strong group of players who have been able to bring Demize NPSL into playoff contention.”
Demize NPSL Director of Soccer Operations Chris Hanlon has been impressed.
“At the beginning of the season, Lucas was our youngest keeper, at 19, competing for the starting job,” Hanlon noted. “He stepped up in difficult situations such as when Nico (Helin) went down with an injury in training before the Wichita game and when Ale (Quiriti) went down early in the game against Saint Louis. He showed his maturity in spite of his age during signature results like wins against FC Wichita and Saint Louis as well as draws with Ozark FC and top of the table Tulsa Athletic. Since the beginning of the season, Lucas has showed his ability is well beyond his years and he has a very bright future with Demize NPSL moving forward.”
Daunhauer has been equally impressed with his experience in the NPSL.
“The NPSL is a very high level of play,” Daunhauer remarked. “Each team presents a unique style of play with players from a wide variety of backgrounds. It is much different than college soccer. The competition I face each day is very intense and challenging. We have players who have played professionally before as well as players who come from top-tier college soccer programs. Many of our players began their youth careers at world-renowned clubs in Europe and South America.”
Daunhauer believes that Demize NPSL and the NPSL have made him better on and off the pitch.
“The NPSL has helped me mature as a soccer player and a person,” Daunhauer added. “I have become mentally stronger and have worked to make my game more consistent. Playing with such a strong, mature back line has made me a stronger player and I wouldn’t have had success without their guidance on the field. Playing for Demize has given me top notch coaching as well as the opportunity to play against talented players both in training and in the Heartland Conference.”
The 6’3” goalkeeper is a physical presence between the posts.
“I try to play a very aggressive style of goalkeeping in which I come out of my box to clear through balls and compete for every ball that I can get to in the air,” Daunhauer continued. “If I am able to stop the attack before the other team can get a shot off, then it makes my job easier from a shot-stopping perspective. I didn’t begin consistently playing goalkeeper until I was 15, so the athleticism that I developed in other sports has helped me along the way.”
Daunhauer does feel good about his chances this fall.
“Playing in such a strong conference (GMAC) that has grown a lot over the past few years helped me develop my goalkeeping skills,” Daunhauer concluded. “I feel much more comfortable playing at a high level since my time in the NPSL began and being able to mature as a goalkeeper will help me be a better leader at my college.”
But Daunhauer isn’t looking too far ahead as he has plenty of work left to do this summer with Demize NPSL. The club is fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt and this keeper is sure to be called upon again to save the day.
Photo Credit: Austin Reinold and Junior Barboza