Few things can happen on a soccer field that Kings Park’s Connor Brady hasn’t already experienced in his own backyard.
From a young age, Connor had a soccer ball at his feet and was running around with his two older brothers, Sean and Ryan, in pickup games that weren’t necessarily always friendly.
“Both would always play soccer with me when I was younger and they never took it easy on me,” Brady said. “Always tackling me hard, which I think taught me how to be tough and over time, it’s taught me to not let a dirty play get me off my game.”
And in his third varsity season, the senior center midfielder is cementing his own legacy at Kings Park — totaling five goals with two assists in the team’s 3-1-2 start. He scored three goals Monday in a 4-3 win over Eastport-South Manor and added a goal and an assist in a 3-0 victory over Wyandanch Tuesday, earning him Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors.
“He’s grown tremendously,” Kings Park coach Bill Hender said. “Sophomore athlete on the varsity, there was a lot expected of him and he definitely lived up to the expectations. But we knew that he had so much more potential.”
Not only has he developed his game, but Brady, currently 6-4, 185 pounds, said he’s grown about two inches and gained around 20 pounds since his varsity debut.
“As a sophomore, I was really skinny and wasn’t really strong on the ball,” Brady said. “Since then, I really grew into my body a lot more and I feel a lot stronger when I play. I feel like I’m in better shape than I have been and it’s showing out there and it’s amazing.”
Brady’s performance Monday included the winning goal off an assist from Alex Graci with 10 minutes remaining in the game. And Brady wants to continue to be the player his teammates look for with the game on the line.
“It does put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, as being one of the guys whose expected to help the team win game in and game out,” Brady, who is also a team captain, said. “But scoring that goal was just a great feeling. I can’t even describe it. It was fantastic.”
Hender credited Brady’s abilities as a leader, saying that the senior would often organize and orchestrate summer workouts for Kings Park on its new turf field. And after losing in the Suffolk Class A semifinals last season, Brady is looking to deliver a county championship and leave a legacy behind for himself and his family.
“They’ve been a big family in this soccer community for a long time and Connor is a great kid,” Hender said. “In certain aspects, they’ve saved the best for last.”