At the start of his junior year, having not yet played a single game for the hugely successful Bronx Science boys soccer program, Zach Seigelstein wasn’t quite sure how he was going to fit in with the Wolverines, let alone if he’d be an impact player.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what the competition was going to be like,” Seigelstein said. “In the beginning, I was like, ‘OK, what’s going on?’ But it all turned out great.”
Did it ever.
Seigelstein not only fit in with coach Phil Cancellaro’s top-shelf program, he thrived in it, becoming one of the program’s top players the past two seasons, leading the Wolverines to a combined 20-2-2 regular-season record along with a pair of Bronx A-1 Division championships.
“The success we had, that meant a lot,” said Seigelstein, who graduated from Bronx Science this past June.
“Playing for your club team and your high school team is a completely different experience. I see playing club as a kind of pride thing, but it’s a completely different level of pride when you play for your high school. When you go to school with these kids, I have more of a drive to play for my high school.”
Seigelstein’s drive and success caught the eye of Tufts University soccer coach Josh Shapiro and beginning the end of this month, Seigelstein will show his soccer wares for the Jumbos program. And it’s a program with some phenomenal recent history.
“They’ve won two Division III national championships in the past four years,” Seigelstein said. “It’s a very, very good program. I spoke with the coach, and he sees me playing in the attacking midfielder role. I’m pretty versatile, so I can play anywhere. But I think that’s where he sees me.”
Though quite happy with his collegiate choice, it was far from a slam-dunk Seigelstein would attend Tufts after his initial campus visit.
“It was one of the first schools I visited, and it’s funny because I wasn’t really a big fan of the campus the first time I saw it,” Seigelstein said. “And Tufts is a Division III school, and at that point of the process I was really set on going to a Division I school. But later on I realized that at Tufts, the level of soccer is just as good as many Division I programs.
“Then I met the coach, and he was a really great guy. I met a lot of the team and they all seemed like great kids. And obviously the academics are outstanding there, and that was one of the biggest things for me.”
So what was so unappealing about the Medford, Massachusetts, campus on that first visit?
“It’s going to sound funny, but it was very hilly and a lot of the Ivy League schools I was looking at were more flat,” Seigelstein said. “But as I saw more and more schools, I realized I liked Tufts more.”
Seigelstein spent his summer playing soccer with his club team, and even did a little coaching at a soccer camp he attended as a child. Although his days at Bronx Science seem “like a long time ago already,” it was playing for the Wolverines soccer program that helped shape his high school experience.
“Playing soccer completely changed the social scene for me in high school because I got to meet many different people,” Seigelstein said. “But what I also liked about the school was there were a lot of different classes you could choose from, and that was great because you don’t really have that kind of opportunity at other schools.”
Seigelstein, who said he plans on majoring in economics, knows that he will have to earn his playing time this fall as a freshman.
“I’ll probably come in off the bench in the beginning because they have some upperclassmen in my position,” Seigelstein said. “But you never know.”
What he does know, however, is that Tufts has a home game Sept. 26 against Wesleyan, and that match is already etched into Seigelstein’s mind. His good friend and former Science goalkeeper Teddy Lowen will be on the opposing side.
“That’s going to be fun,” Seigelstein said. “I would love to score on him. It would make my day. I would love it so much.”
Teddy Lowen, you have been warned.