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Sayville's Edwards LI Player of the Year

Sayville's Dakota Edwards (8) advances the ball in

Sayville's Dakota Edwards (8) advances the ball in the first half. (Nov. 10, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Can I go left? Nope. Can I go right? Try again. What if I chip it over the top? Good luck with that.

Those who attempt to get past Dakota Edwards on a soccer field are left scratching their heads, frustrated with how easily the Sayville senior defender prevents their efforts to move into his territory.

Like someone who forgets their password, after a handful of failed attempts opposing players need technical assistance to get past what Sayville coach Val Winter has dubbed "the Wall of Edwards."

"I can't tell you how many goals he saved that didn't even get to the goal," Winter said. "He lent an intense amount of confidence to the players playing alongside of him and in front of him."

Edwards is Newsday's 2011 Long Island Player of the Year in boys soccer and a member of the first-team All-Long Island team for the second straight year.

He combines speed, size and strength with awareness of angles and field position to keep the play in front of him at nearly all times, routinely using his body to prevent his opponents from getting to the ball and to knock them off it.

"He's the kind of player you take for granted almost," Winter said. "You get so immersed in what he's doing that you forget you're watching a game."

The future Maryland Terrapin spent the 2011 season at his natural defensive position, but when the occasion called for him to move to midfield or forward to provide a spark to Sayville's offense, he readily obliged, scoring five goals and adding 10 assists to help lead the Golden Flashes back to the county Class A final.

"It's determination. It's heart. It's pride. It's all those words. It comes within," said Edwards of his ability to play multiple positions. "If a coach tells you to do something, you do it and you do it for your team to win."

Winter describes Edwards as "unselfish and humble" and it's not merely coach- speak. During Sayville's 2010 state championship season, Edwards deflected praise and attention to his teammates.

Edwards recently was named an NSCAA All-American and state Player of the Year, an award he said he was "shocked" to receive.

"Speechless. Everything that I did paid off and everything that I sacrificed, it was worth it because it got me where I am right now," he said.

Added Winter, "he's a once-in-a-coach's-lifetime. I don't think I'll ever see the likes of him again."

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