UIL Class 4A state champion Trophy Club Nelson prided itself as a club without a superstar — a blue-collar bunch that defined team unity on its climb to the pinnacle of the high school soccer mountain. But every train needs a driver, and for the Bobcats that was Ryan Dandan.
The senior midfielder patrolled the field as Nelson’s general, scoring 13 times and adding 18 assists as the District 11-4A MVP. But it was his control of the game that coach Howard Putter noticed most.
“His possession of the ball is unbelievable,” Putter said. “He holds possession for us in the middle and moves it around, and it’s tough to get it from him. On the other side, it’s hard on [opposing teams] to pass on him. He’s just a force in the middle to go through.”
Putter credits Dandan’s work ethic for much of his success. Ryan moved to Trophy Club from Southlake for his sophomore year, and didn’t find an immediate fit.
“After his sophomore year, he asked me what he needed to do in order to get more playing time,” Putter recalled. “Just like you tell every kid, I told him that and he said OK, and he went and did it. You tell him what needs to be done and he’s going to get it done. He’s going to take care of his business.”
Dandan proceeded to carve out some school history over his next two years, and he leaves as the school’s career assist leader with 33.
“Nobody outworks him,” Putter said. “Even when he’s hurt or sick he makes it to practice. He just works unbelievably hard. If he loses the ball, he pressures back. He’ll just do whatever you ask as hard as he can. He’s all business.
“When he came in as a sophomore, I had trouble finding a spot for him. The last two years I couldn’t take him off the field because nobody could fill his shoes, what he did on the field for us.”