Van Soderberg

Van Soderberg kicks a field goal during University of Washington’s win over California in 2017.

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Looks as the Central Washington University football team went searching at the Division I level to find another placekicker for the 2020 season.

On Tuesday afternoon, former University of Washington kicker Van Soderberg announced he was transferring to CWU via twitter.

“I’m staying home! Soderberg said in the tweet. “Grateful to all those who have helped me overcome the challenges life throws your way. Excited to get to work at Central Washington University.”

Soderberg did face some adversity during his time at UW.

After redshirting his freshman year in 2016, he handled kickoffs the following season for the first six games. But as senior Tristan Vizcaino continued to struggle, converting just 4-of-9, Soderberg replaced him in the win over California, making his first career field goal from 23 yards out and was given duties as the Huskies placekicker the following week versus Arizona State.

But in the 13-7 loss to ASU, he missed both attempts that were inside 30 yards (27 and 21).

UW head coach Chris Petersen then shut down Soderberg for the rest of the 2017 season.

“I wasn’t in a good place mentally after that game as you can imagine,” Soderberg said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “They figured, let (Vizcaino) finish out, this is his senior year, he earned it, he deserved it.”

Soderberg then suffered a hip injury before the 2018 campaign and didn’t have surgery until December which put him out an entire year, missing the 2019 season as well. At that point, Soderberg knew his kicking days at UW have come to an end.

“I ended up having a hip injury in 2018 which kind of sealed my fate there,” he said. “They moved on, they recruited new players, and that’s kind of how it goes.”

He entered the transfer portal in January and wanted to stay near home. He was considering Eastern Washington as well before he decided to commit to CWU.

Soderberg was in touch with special teams coordinator Spencer Capitani, and he was impressed with the direction CWU is headed.

“I got to meet the coaching staff really for the first time, one on one,” Soderberg said, who’s father was a CWU graduate in 1988. “Was really impressed, especially with coach Capitani and coach (Chris) Fisk and really their vision for the program and where they see it trending, and where they see it going in the next couple of years.”

After CWU senior Gavin Todd suffered a season-ending injury five games in, the Wildcats had lefty punter Patrick Hegarty finish out the final six games as the placekicker all while being the team’s kick off specialist and punter. The then sophomore made 7-of-9 while averaging 37 yards per punt.

As of now, Hegarty and Soderberg are the only kickers for 2020.

The two already met as Hegarty was Soderberg’s host during the visit.

“I met him, I met a couple of other guys, and they were just as big of an influence on my decision as the coaching staff, the program, and facilities,” Soderberg said. “He’s a great guy. He was really welcoming and was really positive. All he could talk about is what we can accomplish together.”

Soderberg, an Olympia native, will have one year of eligibility remaining. He won’t be at spring ball as he’s going to finish up his international studies degree at UW in June and then will make his way east to Ellensburg to get ready for his final collegiate season.

In 2017, Soderberg was named Academic All-Pac 12 first team with a 3.91 GPA. In 2019, he was also named to the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll.

While it’s surely going to be different playing in front of 6,000 at Tomlinson Stadium compared to the 70,000 at Husky Stadium, Soderberg is embracing the change of scenery and is looking forward to being part of a program that’s a “bit more personal.”

“Husky Stadium has, in my opinion, one of the best if not the best game-day experiences in college,” he said. “But from the sense of Central to UW, to me, it’s not going to be any different. I think they are certainly passionate and loyal fan bases in each place.”

Luke Olson: lolson@kvnews.com; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb.

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