Brentwood boys soccer aiming to remain among section’s elite
Sunday, October 4, 2020 | 11:01 AM
The Brentwood boys soccer team has become accustomed to hitting double digits in the win column in recent seasons.
The Spartans ended up with 11-6-1 and 10-7 records in 2016 and 2017. They improved to 11-3-2 in 2018 and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinal round.
Last season, Brentwood posted a 13-4-2 mark and again qualified for the WPIAL quarterfinals.
With 13 lettermen back including 10 returning starters, the Spartans were looking to continue their recent ascent among the Class A division in 2020.
“The expectations are fairly high this season,” coach Ron DiNardo said. “Our ball possession throughout the whole team and our team speed are very similar to last year. Our strengths are a very solid defense and our goaltending. Unfortunately, my leading scorer from last season graduated.”
Shashak Gurung, a senior striker and four-year varsity player, logged 39 goals and 28 assists last season, hiking his career totals to 84 goals, 76 assists and 160 points — all team records.
Gurung was surrounded by a host of talented athletes on the pitch last season.
Returning starters are senior wingers Ben Betz, Riley Wirth and Mario Richards; Sergio Garcia, a junior striker; senior midfielder Heran Pradhan, junior midfielder Samir Kadariya; and on defense, senior Dan Steingraber, junior Prason Gurung, junior sweeper Marc Accamando and junior goalkeeper Zach Dirling.
“Our team leader in the midfield is Heran Pradhan,” DiNardo said. “He is very versatile and is a four-year starter. Marc Accamando, Dan Steingraber, Prason Gurung and Zach Dirling are our leaders on defense. Our defensive players are a very solid group. All are three-year starters.”
Pradhan, Accamando, Gurung and Steingraber are team captains.
“My expectations are really high since we have 10 of 11 starters from last year,” Pradhan said. “We’ve lost a few (section) games, but we’ll be ready to return the favor when we face them next time.”
Brentwood started out 3-2 in section play, defeating California, 12-1, Monessen, 3-1, and Bentworth, 6-0, while losing to Chartiers-Houston, 4-2, and Seton LaSalle, 3-2. The Spartans also dropped close decisions to Eden Christian Academy and Springdale in nonsection action.
Despite the slower-than-anticipated start, Pradhan said his team’s goal still is to finish first in the section .
“We haven’t played to expectations so far, but we are getting better day by day,” he said. “Although we lost our first few games, those losses will help unite the team and motivate us to play harder and better next time.”
Brentwood finished as section runner-up the past two years. The Spartans were 8-2-2 in Section 4-A last season, as Seton LaSalle took first place with an 8-1-3 record.
Brentwood is in Section 4-A again in 2020, along with Bentworth, Beth-Center, California, Chartiers-Houston, Monessen and Seton LaSalle. Beth-Center replaced Bishop Canevin.
The Spartans have been working through the covid-19 guidelines established by the state.
“Things are different,” Pradhan said. “We used to practice over the summer to get ready for the season, but this year we weren’t allowed (to practice). Later, when we were allowed, we had to follow many rules which made it really hard for us to practice as a team. That cost us (a chance to build on) our team chemistry.”
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