For the first time in history, a Foothill League title was awarded this year in boys lacrosse, and the West Ranch team won the inaugural crown after going 15-3 overall and an undefeated 6-0 in league.
Two Wildcats were honored after the season for their contributions to their team’s success as Zach Van Bennekum was named the Offensive Player of the Year and JB Bendfeldt was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year.
“It’s awesome to be awarded this. It’s special especially in my junior year,” Van Bennekum said. “With all my teammates, the chemistry we have is great, so it’s great that we all came together and won the Foothill League title and in the process I got offensive player.”
“It felt amazing that all my training and hard work finally paid off after all these years,” Bendfeldt said. “For my senior year, being my last year it meant a lot. Knowing that I got the respect from all the other schools in my league because I got the honor of getting the MVP.”
Van Bennekum was fourth on the team with 34 goals and second on the team with 40 assists, leading to a team-high 74 points.
Defending the goal, Bendfeldt had 148 saves on 230 shots on goal, equaling a .643 save percentage. He allowed just 82 total goals all season.
“I started my mindset with I just need to be a machine for my team. I just need to be there for my team, stand there and be a wall,” Bendfeldt said. “I’m not letting anything get past me and I’m going to do everything I can for my team to win this game.”
Van Bennekum will have another season in a Wildcats jersey and will look to lead his team to consecutive titles.
“We’ve always been the best team in Santa Clarita and now we get recognition for it with the Foothill League title,” he said. “We’ve been dominant and we’re going to continue to be quite dominant in Santa Clarita for years to come.”
Bendfeldt said his playing days are over as he will attend The Los Angeles Film School starting in the fall.
But just because he won’t be playing, doesn’t mean he won’t be involved in the sport.
“I’m going to The Los Angeles Film School to study animation and game art, so sadly I won’t be continuing lacrosse, but I will be coaching lacrosse at West Ranch High School this upcoming season,” he said.
Joining Van Bennekum and Bendfeldt on the First Team from West Ranch are seniors Ethan Doty, Darryl Evans, Kristian Potts and Joseph Tempesta.
Valencia featured two players on the First Team, senior Evan Dean and junior Cole Clayton. Hart also had two players on the First Team, seniors Matt Sorensen and Jacob Montes.
Saugus had the only underclassman on the First Team in Charlie Bland and senior Nick Tuszynski also made the team.
Hart had the most players make the Second Team with seniors Edgar Aguilar, Ethan Dos Santos Kyle Wiggins and Jason Nunez making the cut, plus junior TJ Ferrigno.
Seniors Tyler Anderson and Jared Chorpash made the Second Team for the Centurions, as did freshman Jared Steinman.
West Ranch seniors Robbie Myers and Jeremy Demsher round out the Second Team.
Seniors Cheyne Burroughs of Hart, Travis Blake of Saugus, Chris Franz of Valencia and Justin Morreale of West Ranch were all named honorable mention.
“I just think it shows how committed we are, how much work we put in. We’re the dominant force in Santa Clarita and I think that showed with the awards and through our play,” Van Bennekum said. “It paid off for me, JB and our whole team.”
Diego Marquez contributed to this report.