College Athlete of the Week: Kaleb Kuehn

School: Seattle Pacific

Year: Senior

Sport: Soccer

Hometown: Marysville (Marysville-Pilchuck High School)

What he did: Made his first two starts of the season in place of injured teammate Zach Johnson and did not allow a goal in 157 minutes of action. Kuehn shut out 19th-ranked Grand Canyon in a 3-0 victory, then played 67 minutes of scoreless action before giving way to a younger teammate in an 8-1 rout of the University of Mary.

What’s next: Kuehn doesn’t know whether he’ll be back in the box when the Falcons (6-5-2) play host to Montana State Billings on Saturday night, but he said he’ll be ready if Johnson needs to rest his injured shoulder some more.

The two-minute drill

So your first start of the season came last week, against the 19th-ranked team in the country. What was that like?

I was actually really excited for it. I’m glad the opportunity came. I knew I was playing against a really good team, but I didn’t look at the numbers. I just knew they were a good team. I heard they were the top-ranked team in the West Region, but I didn’t know about their national ranking. I just knew I had to be ready, and the team had to be ready. I wasn’t nervous or anything.

And what did it feel like to earn the shutout?

It felt great. I’m always going to give credit to the defense first. They worked hard and did everything they could do to shoot down Grand Canyon. No balls were in the net, so that’s good.

Then you played into the second half of an 8-1 win over the University of Mary. First of all, who’s Mary?

Uh, well, the school is out of North Dakota. I’m not sure if they’re (NCAA) Division II or NAIA. They rode out here on a bus to play St. Martin’s first, and then us. I know their schedule is tough. They played Metro State to overtime, and they’ve played a lot of big schools. When we played them, things we clicking and things were working that night.

You played 67 minutes in that game and didn’t face a single shot. How does that happen?

Well, it didn’t have anything to do with what I did. You just have to be patient. I was trying to communicate with the defense all game. It’s just staying on top of things and making sure to stay focused. When you go up 3-0, it’s easy to drop off and say: “We’ve got this one.” But I had to stay focused and not do that.

The Falcons have won three games in a row. Is it all coming together for SPU soccer?

Yeah. I feel like it’s coming together really well. We all love each other; we’re like brothers. We had a rough start, but we stuck together and kept working hard, and everything is coming together now.

You were the starting goalkeeper most of last year, only to have Snohomish native Zach Johnson take the job this year. Is that mentally tough — maintaining a relationship with a guy who beat you out?

No, not at all. There are three of us here now, and I’m the senior, and I told Zach last year when he was a freshman: “Being a goalkeeper in college is a tough position, probably the toughest position because only one can play.” And we all want to play. But I told him from the beginning, “I’ll be here for him. And nothing comes between us.” We all work together and talk. It really doesn’t get in the way.

But when he says he’s recovered from his shoulder injury, you’ll give him a good, hard nudge, just in case, right?

Oh, well, y’know. He came back to training the other day, and I could tell it was still bothering him. He’s young, and when you’re young you want to rush back and get back out there. I told him: “Don’t push yourself.” I really want him to come back and play the way he’s capable of playing — for now, and for the future of this program.

I understand you’ve been playing soccer since you were 3 years old. So what’s your earliest soccer memory?

I remember playing at the old YMCA building in Marysville, which is gone now. My grandma bought me this pair of bright, neon, rainbow shorts. I wish I still had them today. They were neon, bright … they were awesome. I wish I still had them and they fit, because I’d wear them. They were sweet.

And you played on an Olympic Development team in Germany. What was that like?

I was a junior in high school. It was a really great experience. Just going to Europe and playing against European teams was great. And it was right before the World Cup in 2006, so it was a great environment. There were tons of people there. Actually, we got to see the U.S. team play Germany in a pre-tournament match, which was great. The people loved us there. People were offering to make us dinner. We played a tournament up in the hills, in this little village, and this family had us over and made us bratwurst. It was really great.

And you ate the bratwurst? I mean, they’re pretty rabid about their soccer over there. You weren’t worried about it being tainted?

I really wasn’t worried about it. I’m a food person, so I’m down to try any kind of food. I just wanted to eat as many as I could. But there was a time, when we went to the Germany-U.S. match, when it got pretty hectic. They won easily — it was, like, 4-1 or something — and when they were ahead 4-0, people started throwing stuff at us in the stands and taunting us. We had to wear our U.S. gear, so everyone knew who we were. It was kind of like: we should go. But we stayed, and everything was fine. I don’t think anybody really would have hurt anybody — not in Germany, anyway. They’re not as bad there as they are in some parts of Europe.

So who’s got the prettier girls — Germany or SPU?

Ooh. Well, I met my girlfriend at SPU, so I’d definitely have to say SPU. Besides, the ratio is like 5-to-1 of girls to guys here, so that helps.

So, statistically, shouldn’t you have five girlfriends?

Based on the ratio, maybe. But I’m pretty dedicated, so one is fine with me.

You think this girlfriend of yours would stick around if she ever saw you in the neon rainbow soccer shorts?

(Laughs) Oh, yeah. She’d probably think I was crazy, but she’d stick with me.

Scott M. Johnson, Herald Writer

Talk to us

More in Sports

Arlington’s defense stuffs Ferndale running back Talan Bungard on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Arlington steamrolls Ferndale in 3A Wesco North showdown

The Eagles light up offense in the first half, finish business to earn a 46-14 win.

Lake Stevens High School head football coach Tom Tri hoists his team’s championship trophy during a community parade and celebration Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Man of the Year in Sports: Tom Tri

The Lake Stevens coach guided the Vikings to Snohomish County’s first large classification football state title in more than 30 years.

West Linn’s Ryan Vandenbrink (23) runs with the ball during a football game between Lake Stevens and West Linn at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. West Linn won, 49-30. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Turnovers cost Lake Stevens in loss to Oregon power West Linn

The Vikings’ run of 35 straight home wins in the regular season ends in an interstate showdown of big-school state champions.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lynnwood teammates mob senior Abbie Orr (4) after her impressive dig led to a point against Jackson during a volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood volleyball team continues rise to prominence

After ending a 20-year state drought last season, the Royals are surging again and have vaulted to No. 3 in Class 3A in the new WSVCA poll.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) scrambles up field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Seahawks set to host Panthers, honor past while focused on present

Seattle will honor the 10-year anniversary of its only Super Bowl championship during Sunday’s game.

Jackson High’s Ben Lee lunges to get to the ball against Kamiak on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022, at the Kamiak Tennis Courts in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep boys tennis season preview: Players and teams to watch

A look at the area’s top athletes and teams on the tennis court this fall.

Fall prep sports roundup.
Prep roundup for Saturday, Sept. 23

Also, Friday’s non-football prep results.

Austin Roest prepares to take a wrist shot during the first day of Silvertips training camp on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Dad is an NHL bigwig, but Silvertips’ Roest carving his own path

The 19-year-old forward and son of Stanley Cup-winning executive Stacy Roest leads the Silvertips into the 2023-24 season.

Most Read