By Troy Mauriello
Brian Paredes has been in a position of leadership before.
Throughout his four years at Newtown High School, he was a consistent leader on the field for the Pioneers’ soccer team. By his senior year in 2013, he was named team captain. He responded by scoring 18 goals and dishing out six assists during a year in which he was named to TimesLedger’s All-Queens boys soccer team.
Now at LIU Brooklyn as a member of the Blackbirds, he will once again be tasked with a leadership role heading into his senior year as a team captain. His path to this role, and his role on the field itself, has changed a bit over the years.
Originally recruited as a midfielder, Paredes slowly transitioned into a defender since his sophomore season. He says that, while difficult at times, the change has been mostly positive for both himself and the team.
“I realized that was my specialty, that’s what I love doing — defending — and that’s what the coaches saw, that I was a better defender,” Paredes said. “I’m open to criticism, so I take that and I move forward. I love defending, I’ve been playing the centerback position here and it’s been a good transition. I’ve handled it pretty well.”
This season, as Paredes continues to adjust to his role as a defender, he’ll get a chance to once again hone his skills as an on-field leader for the Blackbirds. He noted that the experience he got as a leader at Newtown is something that he has continued to take with him for the remainder of his career.
“In high school, coach put me in a position where I could lead the team … and now this year, I kind of have a voice,” he said. “Last year I wasn’t a captain, so I didn’t have much of a voice. But on the field I tried to motivate the guys as much as I could. This year I’m trying to do the exact same thing, lead the team to success.”
If LIU Brooklyn can build off its success from 2016, Paredes should be able to call his tenure as captain a success by year’s end. The Blackbirds finished in third place in the NEC last fall and made an appearance in the conference tournament before falling to Saint Francis.
The goal for Paredes in 2017 is to build off of that success in order to make it back to the NEC Tournament, and ultimately, the NCAA Tournament. If offseason workouts are any indication of a team’s in-season success, Paredes believes LIU Brooklyn is in a good spot to do just that.
“We are much better at this point in the pre-season than we were last year, which is great for us,” he said. “Everyone is working hard, the rhythm of play is great. I feel like our guys this year are bringing a lot.”
Paredes went on to note that he felt as though the Blackbirds did not play enough for each other near the end of their 2016 season, and that he expects that to change heading into a new year.
“The most important thing for us is that we play for each other, which is one thing that we lacked last year,” he said. “We didn’t have enough heart to find the result that we wanted to, and I feel like that’s gonna change this year.”
LIU Brooklyn will get a glimpse into whether or not Paredes’ predictions are accurate early in the season, when the team faces stiff tests on the road against Western Michigan, Detroit and North Carolina State.
While excited to get on the road and face tough competition, Paredes feels as though those tests will only strengthen the Blackbirds when they enter into conference play in October.
“It’s a big test to see where we’re at against high quality teams, so I think that will really help us out for our conference [play] coming in October,” he said.