By Robbie Alderman
This season has been inspirational for the Lions’ soccer team, which has lived up to the hype and expectations the school had for it coming into the season. However, the spotlight is shining on one member of the team who has scored the game-winning goal 10 times this year, more than half the season’s matches.
Junior striker Daniel Branley, who a couple years ago was in danger of being asked to leave Bryan in the wake of not respecting his contract as a Bryan student, has turned a new page and worked hard to become not just a talented soccer player but also a leader on and off the pitch.
Branley, who is leading the NAIA in game-winning goals, was named AAC Player of the Year and selected for the All Conference First Team this week. Twice during the regular season he was named the AAC’s Offensive a Player of the Week.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Dan and speak with him about not only his own success but also the success of his team.
“Joey [Head Coach Joey Johnson] is the glue that holds the team together,” Dan said. “He pushes us to work for togetherness as a team and to become better men of God. We had some new guys come in this year that have worked hard to put us in the position we are in. This freshman class has worked harder than any other freshman team I’ve played with, and they’re humble. The younger guys work hard and that pushes us older guys to work harder so we are all fighting for starting positions. Everyone is pushing each other to be the best we can be.”
As far as what drives Dan, it is his passion for the sport that was developed at a young age in Newcastle in the north of England and Johnson who pushes him and encourages him to be a better man and player.
“Without Joey, this team would not be in the position we are in. The effort and time he has put into us is what drives all of us,” he said.
Dan also attributed much of the team’s success to the program that former head coach Dr. Sandy Zensen established. In addition, Dan added that Bryan College also drives him to be a better player and person.
“Bryan is one of the only places I’ve been that makes us feel this welcome,” Dan says about Bryan College.