Danny Bedoya can’t explain why. He just gets a certain joy out of seeing a teammate score a goal, seeing them succeed, even more than when he’s the one putting the ball in the back of the net. Even when he played forward years back, the Francis Lewis star senior often set up his team’s other striker, rather than himself.
“It’s great, knowing you made an assist and helped out the team,” he said.
Bedoya, the Patriots’ splendid soccer central midfielder who has drawn high Division I interest from St. John’s University, Clemson and Penn State, is team-first all the way. He has nine goals on the year, an impressive amount, though he could have double the amount, Coach Roger Sarmuksnis says, if he was more aggressive.
He does have eight assists and is the leading force behind Lewis’ continued reign atop PSAL Queens A East and the Patriots extending their borough win streak to 54 straight matches (47-0-7). Getting him to talk about himself is like pulling teeth; Bedoya refuses to use the word “I.”
Those around him, however, aren’t effusive in their praise. Sarmusknis puts Bedoya in his top five, along with midfielder Sebastian Guenzatti, goalkeeper Harris Papson, striker John Koutsounadis and midfielder Daniel Ospina. He stands out because of his size — Bedoya stands just 5-foot-6 — and Sarmuksnis even made the comparison, at this high school level, to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
“Danny always rises to the occasion,” Sarmuksnis said, pointing to his key goal in Friday’s 3-1 win over rival Bayside as the latest example. His greatest moment came in last year’s PSAL Class A semifinal victory over Tottenville, Bedoya striking once and setting up two other goals in the 3-0 win.
Sarmuksnis moved Bedoya, 17, to midfield as a sophomore after a standout preseason. The coach saw how well he played with others, how he orchestrated the attack and set up others.
“That position doesn’t come from coaching,” Sarmuksnis said. “It comes from teammates and how they interact with him on the field. That has to be earned in play on the field and Danny has earned that spot again and again.”
Striker Daniel Castro, who has played alongside Bedoya for years, says the central midfielder makes the forwards’ job easy. They just make their runs and look for the ball, which is usually on target.
“He knows what to do with the ball, even before he gets the ball,” Castro said. “Your job is just to finish the play.”
Bedoya, ranked 85th in his class nationally and fifth in the state by topdrawersoccer.com, surveys the field non-stop, even when the ball isn’t at his feet. He likes to know where everyone is at all times — on both sides — imagining where to go with the ball before he has it, picking up tendencies of the opponent. He didn’t always possess that ability, but developed it while facing elite competition.
Bedoya recently joined Red Bull Academy, a training program for younger players within the MLS organization, and has played in the U.S. development program and in various camps for years.
“That’s helped me a lot,” said Bedoya, who’s brother, Santiago, plays for Queens College. “Every camp you get so much better.”
Bedoya said the Patriots aren’t focused on November yet, but finishing off a perfect regular season first and taking each playoff match as it comes. The final days of his senior season are here, however, and this is his last chance to win that elusive title. All the great players Sarmuksnis mentioned — from Koutsounadis and Papson to Guenzatti and Ospina — never were able to win that elusive crown; Bedoya has one last chance.
“We’ve been trying to get it for a long time,” he said. “If we get it, we’ll make history. We’ll do what everybody else tried to do for so long.”
©2011 Community News Group
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