Both Bronx Science and Kennedy were awaiting this rematch.
The two schools, located about a mile from each other, had opened the season playing to a scoreless draw — considered something of a moral victory for the Knights. You see, Science, the three-time defending Bronx A1 Division champs, rarely experiences anything other than wins as evidenced by the Wolverines’ 36-2-5 record the past three or so regular seasons.
So the rematch would go a long way toward determining if Kennedy was going to be the one to finally challenge Science for division supremacy, or if the Wolverines were still the elite of the Bronx.
Suffice to say, the road to the Bronx A1 Division championship still goes through Bronx Science. Until further notice.
Last Friday, the Wolverines survived some shaky play in the first half when Kennedy nailed three shots off the crossbar without finding the net. They then saw Zach Seigelstein score twice in a three-goal Science eruption as the Wolverines cruised to a statement-making 3-0 road victory.
It was a satisfying win for a Science team that was looking to make amends for what it perceived as a substandard outing on opening day.
“The first game was disappointing, so we worked a lot the past few weeks to try and figure out why it was a 0-0 game,” Bronx Science head coach Phil Cancellaro said. “Part of it was our energy because we have so many new guys playing this year that never played in the past. So we worked on their positioning and how to get to the ball faster and their role on the field. Overall just what Bronx Science soccer is all about.”
After Science’s Leo Pinto clanged one off the Kennedy left post for the first real scoring opportunity of the game, it was Kennedy that responded by putting heavy pressure on Science goalkeeper Teddy Lowen. Kennedy’s Yarlen Guity was the first to nail a shot off the crossbar before teammates Ali Alrobaie and Benjamin Giovannone also drilled a pair of shots off the bar just minutes later.
Kennedy was clearly frustrated by its inability to find the net, and only saw its frustration grow minutes later when Seigelstein scored on the other end for a 1-0 Wolverines’ lead. Several minutes later, Science’s Alexander Goldstein made it 2-0.
“It’s all about momentum,” Seigelstein said. “Once we scored those first two goals, their entire team just collapsed and they began arguing with each other. We’re a team, we’re not going to do that. We stay together and play for the entire game.”
Seigelstein added a second goal late in the first half when his shot from 30 yards away somehow dribbled past both a Kennedy defender and its goalkeeper. Even Seigelstein, with a wry smile on his face, had trouble believing at first his shot found the back of the net.
“Yeah, that one was a little luck,” Seigelstein said, smiling.
Those three first-half goals were the perfect remedy to Kennedy’s very physical play, Cancellaro said — play he was not a fan of by any means.
“That was definitely a momentum changer,” he said. “We were a little low on energy and they were trying to bully us around the field, so we needed to match their energy and play our style of game. Just move the ball around and get to the goal.
“Those early goals gave us our confidence back. They were trying to eliminate our confidence by using their physicality and pushing us to the floor, grabbing our jerseys, grabbing our arms, playing a very dirty match. They have no type of respect for our team or the game. So I told my guys play with class and play our style.”
And as usual, Science’s sound gameplan worked. Now the Wolverines own a two-game lead on Kennedy with just four games remaining in the regular season. A fourth straight Bronx A1 Division title is there for the taking.
The only question surrounding Science now is can it pull off yet another undefeated regular season?
“We have to refocus,” Cancellaro said. “We need to remember what we’re trying to accomplish, having an undefeated season. Not just win the division, but have an unbeaten season.”