Leyden goalie Konrad Dziedzic enjoying rookie season
Leyden's Freddy Suarez kicks the ball past Lane's Adalberto Rojas. Leyden High School played Lane High School. Lyons Township High School hosted the 9th Annual Pepsi Showdown Saturday featuring 32 boys soccer teams playing 16 games. | Jon Langham~for Sun
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:58PM
The keeper is the loneliest man on the soccer field. He often stands alone. It is not uncommon for various thoughts to circulate through his mind.
Sometimes the hardest part is the waiting, knowing that at some point they’re going to be tested. They are constantly aware one mistake could cost them.
“Always be positive, that’s my attitude,” Konrad Dziedzic said.
“Even if you make a mistake, always be positive. You learn from your mistakes and that’s what makes you better.”
In his first year playing high school soccer, the sophomore Leyden keeper has been dynamite. Even in defeat.
Against Lane in the first round of the Pepsi Showdown at Lyons Saturday, Dziedzic surrendered a goal in the 17th minute. The rest of the game he was flawless. He made four spectacular diving stops, twice stopping the Indians at point-blank range.
“The keeper’s good,” Lane coach Andrew Ricks said.
His play was not enough as the Eagles lost 1-0. Dziedzic impacted the game and allowed the Eagles to remain close.
“They didn’t make a lot of plays at him, but when he was under pressure, he stopped them,” Leyden coach Mark Valintis said. “That’s what he does for us.”
Tall and angular and blessed with strong instincts and quickness, Dziedzic has the physical tools to thrive. He gravitated to the position when he first started playing organized soccer, at age 7, and was invited to join the prestigious Chicago Magic Academy as a seventh-grader.
Encouraged by his friends, he took the leap and elected to play high school soccer.
“I wanted to try it at least one year,” he said.
The transition has been smooth, but he has had to adjust.
“The competitive level is very high, just like the academy,” Dziedzic said. “I’m not used to playing against older players — juniors and seniors — and I have to adapt to win the high balls against bigger players. It’s a different pace and a different style of play.”
He is a talker, the sort to shout encouragement or set the backline. It fits his outgoing nature. Despite his youth, he has quickly taken on a leadership role. The dividends cut both ways, he said.
“I’ve made new friends, even close friends. I like the atmosphere of playing high school soccer,” he said. ~.