Plewa’s remarkable year continues for NYRBII

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

HARRISON, N.J. – What a wild year it has been.

Konrad Plewa stepped up and buried the penalty kick that sunk the Rochester Rhinos’ chances of repeating as USL Champions, helping Red Bull II to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. This of course is the same Plewa that suffered a stroke earlier this year.

The decision to put him in that position was something that the staff, specifically John Wolyniec, planned well before hand.

“Konrad is a guy I’ve know for a while now,” said John Wolyniec. “You don’t put someone in fifth place unless you trust them. I’ve got a lot of trust in that guy and he comes through for us.”

Plewa suffered a stroke at midseason, putting a scare into his participation this season. Since his return, Wolyniec has used Plewa in a supersub role, slowly working him back into the rotation. His work has been limited to solidifying the midfield and defense late in games, providing a bit more physicality when legs are tired.

However, in this game against Rochester, he provided so much more.

“It’s kind of a different role,” said Plewa when speaking about being a substitute. “As long as we’re successful I’m just happy to back the guys up whenever they need. I try to be as supported as I can be and try to be as ready as I can when my number is called”

The emotions of the moment certainly showed on Plewa. He broke into tears exiting the field on Friday night — and coach John Wolyniec eyes welled when speaking of Plewa as well. The journey back has felt quick but has certainly been emotional, culminating in a memorable moment for player and team.

“This team never gives up,” said Plewa when asked about the emotion of the game. “We fight to the end. With ten minutes left we knew we had a shot. Guys kept fighting. Guys kept grinding.”

And if there were ever a fighter that personifies the team’s character, it is Plewa.