Malvern Prep’s David Bettenhausen is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

The senior center midfielder and captain has been crucial to the Malvern soccer team’s success this fall, contributing heavily on both sides of the field. The Villanova University-bound senior has scored 13 goals and dished out seven assists as of Nov. 1; tallied key goals in the Friars’ recent wins against St. Joseph’s Prep and Springside Chestnut Hill; and was a defensive catalyst in the Friars’ 1-0 victory against nationally-ranked Haverford School.

Q: How do you view your on-field leadership role as center midfielder and captain?

A: As a center midfielder, a lot of the game flows through me. Coach [Andrew] Kummerer and I have talked on many occasions as to how my play influences the game. As a leader, part of my job is to give every player on my team confidence. One way these two roles connect is by getting every person touches on the ball during the game. The more touches a player gets on the ball, the more comfortable they are in their role. I have the ball at my feet a lot, so it’s my job to get everyone on the field involved so that they can positively impact the game.

Q: Can you give an example of how you have seen fit to assert a leadership role during a game this season?

A: Earlier this season, a few of the less experienced players struggled because they weren’t confident. After a mistake, they would put their head down and harp on it. I would give them verbal encouragement to bring up their spirits, but I would also try and get them the ball in a state of low pressure so they can gain confidence in their ability. It’s a simple thing to receive the ball then pass it and keep possession, but I learned that it’s very beneficial for many people, especially ones without a lot of varsity experience.

Q: Coach Kummerer mentioned that you were a defensive catalyst in the win against Haverford School. What (to you) was the biggest key in holding Haverford School’s vaunted attack in check?

A: Haverford School is stacked with talented players. There were a few keys to slowing down their attack in the game we played them; however, the most crucial tactic was defending in numbers. They have some players that can beat us 1v1, and we knew that. To account for this, we tried to create every situation to be numbers up in our favor while defending. This required a lot of shifting and good positioning at every moment. While this game was by no means the best overall game I played all season, it might’ve been one of my best mentally. All of the tactical shifts for this game forced us to be in tune at all times. Some other keys to slowing down Haverford School were defending restarts well and not letting them turn and come at us in our defensive third. This win was a major credit to our back line, Nate Albergo, Mike Narzikul, Cullen Pina, Ryan Sutton, our defensive center midfielder, Chris Savino, and our goalie, Jake Hodlofski. With two of our starting center backs out with concussions, Andrew Panzo and Connor Dillon, the defense had to really play amazing, which they did.

Q: You’ve had several key goals this season (for example against St. Joseph’s Prep and Springside Chestnut Hill). Is there one goal that stands out in your memory – can you describe how the play unfolded, and your role in the play?

A: My goal against Kiski Prep is one that I think about often. We were tied 2-2 with five minutes left in the game before I scored a bicycle kick goal. Kiski’s defense was very good, and they moved the ball around very well. The goal was brought about by persistent pressure. Our forward, Billy Coyle, put a defender under pressure. When the defender took a big touch out from his feet, I knew he was going to play a long ball, so I stepped in front and intercepted it. The ball went very high up in the air and about eight yards out from the end line and 15 yards from the near post. I chased the ball down, and when I checked my shoulder, I saw that the goalie was also pursuing the ball. Without hesitation, I went for the bicycle kick, and the ball went over the keeper and past a trailing defender attempting to stop it from crossing the goal line. It was probably the craziest goal I’ve scored in my life.

Q: Is there a player whose overall game and leadership you try to pattern your own after?

A: There isn’t a single player that I pattern my style after, but I have learned a lot from a lot of different players that have impacted my style of play and leadership qualities. For example, Tripp Traynor (Malvern Prep Class of 2014) was someone I really looked up to as a freshman and sophomore. He was the type of guy that made you want to work harder by simply looking at you. He was never negative in his criticisms, rather he was constructive in everything he said. When I played center back next to him my sophomore year he encouraged me in everything. He congratulated me when I was doing well and picked me up when I wasn’t. His communication skills rubbed off on me, as I now act very similar while communicating. He is just one example of a player who has impacted my game throughout my life.

Q: What to you has been the highlight of your Malvern Prep soccer career to date? Can you share with us your most vivid memory of that experience?

A: Malvern Prep soccer has been awesome for me. I’m lucky enough to have had a lot of my best friends playing with me since freshman year. And since freshman year, we have never beaten Haverford School – until last week. Beating Haverford School 1-0 at our home field on our homecoming day was the best experience I’ve had so far on the team. The atmosphere was electrifying. Our entire bleachers were filled, and the whole field was lined by people. When the final whistle was blown, the student section, of at least 150 kids stormed the field. After all these years, we finally beat Haverford School, a top five ranked team in the country, in soccer.

Q: Who is your favorite soccer player, and why?

A: Paul Pogba is my favorite soccer player. His creativity and skill are one of a kind. He works hard offensively and defensively for his team. However, the reason why he is my favorite soccer player is because he is so fun to watch.

Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game?

A: I think the strongest aspect of my game is my 1v1 defending and attacking. I was good at a lot of different sports before I focused on only soccer. I think developing athleticism through these other sports has helped me tremendously in my 1v1 defending. For example, there are many similarities to defending in basketball and soccer, and making the connection between the defensive positioning in these two sports made me a better soccer player. As an attacker, I think my creativity and deception are key to my solid 1v1 attacking skills.

Q: What part of your game are you particularly working on at this time?

A: One aspect I am working on is passing in the final third. This is more of a problem for me as a high school player than a club player because I tend to dribble more in high school games. Many times this season I missed a pass or passed it too late in the final third because I over-dribbled. I am currently working on improving my decision making skills in the final third, which will help me improve my passing skills.

Q: Who have been your top soccer mentors, and what has been the most important thing each of them taught you?

A: Three of my top soccer mentors are Joe Levan, Andrew Kummerer, and my dad. Joe Levan was my coach for Continental FC Delco for the past few years. He taught me how communication can act as a catalyst in getting my team to work harder and faster. Joe wasn’t the best soccer player, but when he would step in and play with us at practice to even out the teams, his team would always win. It was because his communication motivated his teammates to outwork us on the field. Since my days of playing under Joe, communication has become an essential part of my game. Although he hasn’t coached me for that long, Andrew Kummerer has taught me a lot of things. The most important thing  he has taught me, though, is the idea of a team being a family. At Malvern Prep, we play for each other, and it’s an awesome thing to be a part of.

Q: What has been the highlight of your soccer career outside of Malvern Prep (with Continental FC Delco, etc.)?

A: Winning the Region 1 Premier League was a big moment in my soccer career. Three games into the season two years ago, we realized that we needed to win the next fours games in a row to even have a chance at making the semi-finals. The worst part was that the next four games were going to be our toughest competition. With our backs against the wall, we won our next four games by a one-goal margin in each contest to advance to the semi-finals. In the semi-finals we played the No. 6 ranked team in the country, Dix Hills Elite, and won 1-0. In the finals we played the No. 14 ranked team in the country, Arling Impact, and won 2-1 after we scored two goals in the final five minutes of play. Winning the Region 1 Premier League sent us straight to Regionals and brought us back into National League for next season.

Q: You wore No. 10 for Continental FC Delco, and you wear it for Malvern Prep also. Is there a reason you picked that uniform number?

A: This year I just changed teams to Lower Merion Magic, where I will be wearing No. 4.  No. 10  is a number I choose because it helps define me as a player. My role on Continental FC Delco and on Malvern Prep was the number 10, a.k.a. the attacking center midfielder. The number serves as a reminder for my job as a player to be creative and deadly in the final third.

Q: This is your fourth year at Malvern Prep. What (to you) is the best part of attending Malvern Prep?

A: Over these four years, I’ve formed friendships with my classmates and other kids at the school that will continue until death. The boys that I go to school with are my brothers, and the sense of brotherhood is the best part of attending Malvern Prep.

Q: What attracted you to Villanova? What position do you think you will be playing for the Wildcats’ soccer team? What would you like to major in? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?

A: The coaching staff at Villanova is phenomenal. They have a bright vision for the future of the program, and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to be a part of it. The exceptional quality of the business school, closeness to home, beautiful campus, and top notch soccer program are all reasons why I chose Villanova. I will either be playing outside back or center midfield at Villanova. I will be majoring in finance at the Villanova School of Business. I’ve always dreamt of working on Wall Street. I think a job in the financial and investment community would suit me well.

Q: Do you participate in any extracurricular activities at Malvern Prep outside of soccer? What sparked your interest in these activities?

A: The National Honors Society, Adelphia Society, and Stock Market Club are three activities that I actively participate in outside of soccer. I was inducted into the National Honors Society. The Adelphia Society is a select group of juniors and seniors that mentor freshman and sophomores to help make their transition from middle school to high school smooth. The Stock Market Club is something I’ve been doing since freshman year. Because of my love of numbers, I joined the club. It was through this club that I developed my passion for finance, which I hope will continue in my future career.

David Bettenhausen’s top picks

Book: Outliers.

Author: Malcolm Gladwell.

TV show: White Collar.

Movie: The Departed.

Pre-game pump-up song: Welcome to the Jungle.

Athlete: Floyd Mayweather.

Historical figure: “Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man. In my mind, he was one of the greatest leaders to ever live. I particularly admire Martin Luther King Jr. for his communication skills. His ability to send a clear message using his words so eloquently and systematically was second to none.”

Team: Philadelphia Union.

Place to visit: Aruba.

(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)

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