Danny Bedoya’s junior season ended in bitter disappointment.
The star midfielder missed a penalty kick as Francis Lewis fell to Beacon in a shootout in the PSAL Class A final at Belson Stadium.
His focus from the moment he left St. John’s University that November night was getting back to the final.
“We were so close,” Bedoya said. “We were disappointed we couldn’t get it. It makes us want it more this time, especially for our seniors.”
Bedoya said he often thinks of that loss, especially at the end of practices when the Patriots work on set pieces and penalty kicks.
“It makes me think that I have to be more confident,” he said.
The trip to Belson Stadium is a short one for the Patriots, a quick jaunt down Utopia Parkway, but the journey to another final isn’t so clearly paved.
Yes, Lewis returns Bedoya, arguably the best player in the city. The undecided senior is a maestro in the midfield, constantly playing the perfect ball to teammates in the attacking third. He’s also a calming influence in the center of the park, always making the right decision.
“I try to make things as simple as possible,” Bedoya said. “It’s not about forcing it or playing everywhere crazy.”
Francis Lewis coach Roger Sarmuksnis said at times last year he couldn’t believe Bedoya, who had a goal and two assists in a 3-0 win against Tottenville in the PSAL semifinals a year ago, was only a junior.
“He’s so enjoyable to watch, that’s the best part,” he said. “He puts the beautiful in the beautiful game.”
Bedoya plays with the Red Bulls U-18 Academy team and he has dreams of playing for the Major League Soccer team.
“It’s going pretty well,” Bedoya said. “It’s a challenge to play high school and Academy, but I get an opportunity there to play at a high level so I can bring it back here.”
But Bedoya cannot be a one-man show. The Patriots also return their entire backline, including fullback Luigi Puello and sweeper Adrian Garcia, as well as center midfielder Mauricio Cediel and forwards Charlie Yang and Kamil Pruszko, while sophomore forward Steven Koutsounadis shows promise.
“The goals will come,” Sarmuksnis said.
What the Patriots don’t have, and what they sorely miss, is Chris Herrera in goal. The city’s top keeper is now at Adelphi and Sarmuksnis doesn’t know who will fill his large shoes yet.
“It’s impossible to replace Chris Herrera,” he said.
That could be the Patriots Achilles Heel this season, though with Bedoya on the field, anything is possible.
“We’re pretty good this year and it’s good to see some of the juniors helping us out,” Bedoya said. “It’s a good squad.”
Be sure to check out MSGVaristy.com tomorrow for a look at the No. 2 team in our NYC preseason boys soccer rankings.
Contact Dylan Butler at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler