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Young Brentwood boys team looks forward to future

| Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, 1:00 p.m.
Brentwood's Ben Betz was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Jeff Healy | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Ben Betz was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Brentwood's Dyan Brown was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Jeff Healy | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Dyan Brown was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Brentwood's Dominic Dudiak was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Jeff Healy | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Dominic Dudiak was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Brentwood's Mason Woods was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Jeff Healy | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Mason Woods was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Brentwood's Shashak Gurung was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Jeff Healy | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Shashak Gurung was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Brentwood's Ryan Kelly was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.
Jeff Kelly | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Ryan Kelly was a key player during the 2017 boys soccer season.

The Brentwood boys soccer team played a grinding 14-game schedule in Section 4-A this season.

The Spartans, off their 7-7 record, missed out on a WPIAL playoff berth by one game.

Brentwood, which ended up 10-7 overall, finished fifth in the final section standings behind Seton LaSalle (12-1-1), Bentworth (10-4), Monessen (8-6) and Chartiers-Houston (8-6).

“I think we had a good season with a 10-7 record, missing the playoffs by one game,” coach Ron DiNardo said. “Our strengths were ball-control, speed and defense. We need to work on playing better on the road; we seemed to struggle a little on grass fields.”

The Spartans dropped close decisions in road games at Beth-Center, Monessen and Chartiers-Houston. A victory in any one of those three games would have catapulted Brentwood into the playoffs.

Plus, Monessen upset section champion Seton LaSalle, 2-1, which didn't help the Spartans' playoff chances.

Brentwood surged toward the finish line however, winning six of seven games heading into the final week of the section season.

The team's starting lineup down the season's home stretch consisted of sophomore Shashak Gurung and junior Ramesh Bista, at forward; senior Ryan Kelly, juniors Biren Biswa and Avery Herb, and freshman Heran Pradhan, at midfield; senior Mason Woods, and juniors Simon Accamando, Dominic Dudiak and Suren Poudyel, on defense; with senior Dylan Brown, at the goalkeeper position.

Freshman Ben Betz and junior Nick DiNardo were top midfield reserves.

Kelly was a four-year varsity starter as a center midfielder for the Spartans. He is hoping to continue his soccer career at the college level.

“I am very proud of the fact that my coaches felt I could come in as a freshman and make that position my own,” Kelly said. “I played other sports when I was younger, but I realized early on that soccer was my passion. So I decided to devote my time to one sport, and found different teams and camps to participate in all year-long.

“I was very proud of our team's performance this year. We came together as a team, with our speed being the top problem for our opponents to (try to) neutralize. I am going to miss playing for the Spartans, and I'll miss my teammates, too. I want to wish the returning players much luck next year, and remind them to enjoy it because time sure flies.”

One of the team highlights for the Spartans was a 4-3 victory in double overtime against Monessen late in the season. Gurung netted the game-winner.

“Our biggest win this season had to be against Monessen at home,” Kelly said. “They were ahead of us in the standings, and it was a must-win game for us to keep our playoff hopes alive.

“We came back from a two-goal deficit to send the game into double overtime. I can't put into words how I felt when our striker, Shashak, put the ball into the back of the net.”

Gurung, with 13 goals and 15 assists, and Kelly (11 goals, 11 assists) led the team offensively. Bista also had eight goals and three assists, while Biswa contributed four goals and nine assists.

Brown finished with a 10-6 record and registered 115 saves.

With seven juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen in the Spartans' game-day rotation this year, coach DiNardo has high hopes for the 2018 season.

“Everyone (in the starting lineup) is returning except for Kelly, Brown and Woods,” he said.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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