Pinned down by a steering wheel while firefighters worked for 90 minutes to release him from its grip, senior goalkeeper Danny Kennedy wasn’t sure if he would ever step between the pipes for the UCSB men’s soccer team again.
That was Oct. 12, 2003, after a drunk driver tore down Highway 101 going the wrong way, nearly hitting Kennedy and causing him to spin out.
A year and a half later, Kennedy holds virtually every goalkeeper record in UCSB history, was an All-American during his senior campaign, is a national championship runner-up and signed a professional contract with the Puerto Rico Islanders of the United Soccer Leagues.
A four-year starter at UCSB, Kennedy went from nearly having his career, not to mention his life, ended by an intoxicated driver to making a grandiose exit for his collegiate career.
“He always had the physical tools to play the game, he was always able to control the defense,” UCSB men’s soccer Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “It doesn’t surprise me.”
Earlier this fall, Kennedy surpassed his goalkeeper coach and mentor, Ryan Sparre. for the all-time record for both total minutes at the position and total shutouts.
Growing up, Kennedy’s aspirations revolved more closely around the basketball court than the soccer field, but his 6’1″ frame pointed him to a more promising future on the grass, not the hardwood. Although Kennedy is still somewhat of an unconventional height for a goalie, Vom Steeg attributes his success to his professional demeanor.
“[Danny’s] habits have always been that of a professional, he shows up every day, he is a tireless worker,” Vom Steeg said. “He doesn’t need somebody yelling at him to get him going.”
Kennedy helped anchor an impenetrable defense with an ever-changing backline by acting as a virtual second coach, commanding his defense to be in the optimal position to make sure no shots even reached him.
“His ability to keep everybody organized was probably the most important attribute that he brought [to the field],” Vom Steeg said.
Kennedy was unable to be reached in Puerto Rico while continuing his professional soccer career. He notched his first shutout in the professional ranks on Friday, April 13, winning a 1-0 decision against the Rochester Raging Rhinos.