Senior midfielder and defender Stevo Bednarsky, looks to his teammates to pass the ball during a game at Ulrich Sports Complex. Bednarsky was one of the men’s soccer team captains in 2019, and after helping lead his team to a Patriot League Championship, he is returning as captain in 2020. (Courtesy of Stevo Bednarsky)

Stevo Bednarsky anchors men’s soccer as returning captain

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Senior midfielder and defender Stevo Bednarsky comes back to the men’s soccer team in 2020-2021 as the lone returning captain and one of the team’s most decorated players.

As captain in 2019, Bednarsky helped lead his team to a Patriot League Championship, being named First-Team All-Patriot League and Second-Team All-Atlantic Region selections.

Bednarsky said the experience of winning a championship was a team effort, and he hopes to reach that level of success again.

The men’s soccer team lost a talented group of seniors this past year, including First-Team All-Patriot League selections Will Smith, ‘20, and defender Zarin Tuten, ‘20. Smith, who started 67 games as goalkeeper from 2016 to 2019, was a co-captain in 2019. 

Bednarksy said he credits his success as a leader and mentor to these past seniors, but he is still optimistic about the future. 

“It’s always challenging when you lose a strong senior class, especially a senior class who leave (as) Patriot League Champions,” said head coach Dean Koski. “So, that always presents a void. I think it’s a little bit more of a void now because we’re not in our season.” 

However, Koski and Bednarsky see potential in the freshmen coming into the team this season, and both look forward to getting to work with them when practices are able to resume.

Bednarsky said he takes his responsibilities as a leader seriously and said his goal is to help his teammates reach their full potential. 

“Speaking from being captain last year, I had a lot of great mentors in front of me that kind of helped make the transition into that role easier,” Bednarsky said. “And I’m really here to bridge the gap between the players and the coaches and to help guys keep guys motivated and make sure we’re all doing the right things.”

Koski said Bednarksy, having been coached by his dad at Gill St. Bernard’s School, has a very tactical and thorough understanding of soccer, making him a good fit for a leadership position on the team. Koski said Bednarsky’s teammates love him for his positive attitude and dedication.

“Stevo (Bednarsky) is a rare breed as a college player,” Koski said, “He’s really passionate about soccer, to go on to the next level, so he’s self motivated and driven in ways that I never have to push him. He’s very coachable because he’s eager to learn and eager to grow, he handles critical constructive feedback really well.” 

Since Lehigh athletics shut down all team practices on Sept. 29, the men’s soccer team has been keeping in touch through Zoom calls coordinated by the team captains. Junior defender and midfielder Dawson Berger said these calls help players stay in touch with the coaches and work to keep their spirits high during these uncertain times.

Berger said Bednarsky is an uplifting presence to the team during this time.

“Stevo (Bednarsky) has made sure to text us regularly and keep in touch with the team,” Berger said in an email. “I know he’s always there if I need advice or someone to just talk to. He’s always in a good mood and helps me feel better during this hard time.”

Bednarsky said he has been encouraging his fellow players to keep motivated and in shape. After his experience being a captain and winning the Patriot League Championship as a junior, he has been able to work with the coaches and mentor the newer players on the team, despite the circumstances. 

We’ve just been telling the guys every single day to just try to do something to get out there and keep that love for the game going, and hopefully, before we know it, we’re back on the field altogether,” Bednarsky said.

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