If ever there was a program in need of a change of scenery, a team that yearned to be challenged and tested instead of steamrolling its competition on a regular basis, it was the Bronx Science girls soccer team.
Long a dominant force in the Public School Athletic League, the Wolverines had posted a 31-0-1 record over their past three regular seasons, won three consecutive Bronx A Division crowns, and made a trio of deep forays in the PSAL’s annual postseason party.
But this season was supposed to be different. The PSAL finally decided it was time to move the Wolverines out of their familiar Bronx A home and place them in a Manhattan A Division that was allegedly a step up in competition.
It is here the Wolverines would surely be tested. Every game would be a challenge.
It was time to bid adieu to those unbeaten regular seasons.
Well, maybe not.
The 2019 season is only five games old, but so far it has been business as usual for Bronx Science. The Wolverines are up to their old tricks again, rolling to a 5-0 start, and in impressive fashion. And for a team that already was returning such premier talents as Elena Morgan, Ruby Hogue, Sofia Mahairas and Sophie Silbert this season, a quick break from the season’s starting gate was not unexpected.
What was unexpected, however — what even surprised head coach Annie Eckstein — was the emergence of yet another superlative talent, freshman Kiele Morgan, Elena’s younger sister.
For Science, it’s just a case of the rich getting richer.
“I knew she was coming into the school and I talked to Elena about her,” Eckstein said. “I’d say so far she has finished for us very well. She’s been in the right place, and she’s put the ball in the back of the net when we’ve needed her to.”
Kiele Morgan started with modest first-year aspirations. Ones she has since shattered.
“Coming into the season, I made a goal for myself that maybe I’d score one or two goals this year,” Kiele said. “But I’m really surprised at the good start I’m having.”
Good start might be understating it a bit. In the Wolverines’ matchup with the High School for Math, Science and Engineering last week, Kiele Morgan found the back of the net three times as Science rolled to a 10-1 victory. It was an astonishing accomplishment for a freshman, only it wasn’t the first hat trick Kiele logged this season. Her other three-goal game came opening day in an 8-0 blowout of Columbia Prep.
Kiele also scored two goals in each of Science’s wins over East Side and New Explorations before finally being shut out in Science’s win at M.L. King last Friday.
That’s 10 goals in five games. Maybe it’s time to revise those first-season expectations.
“A lot of my teammates are just giving me really good balls,” Kiele said. “I just happen to be in the right place and get a good finish on it.”
Through five wins this season, the Wolverines have outscored their opponents 37-5. So much for that move to the more competitive division. Not that Eckstein is complaining.
“I’m very happy with the move,” Eckstein said. “I think it’s something that will be good for us. I think we’re going to see more competitive games now, and we’ll definitely see even more competitive games later in the season when we see Beacon, Bard, Hunter and King.”
Eckstein uttered those words before Science crushed King 8-2 last Friday, a victory that saw both Hogue and Mahairas net hat tricks.
“We have some good freshmen who are nice additions to the team, and we also have a great group of returners,” the coach said. “It’s a very solid group of girls, and they’re starting to learn how to play well with each other. But we’re still nowhere near where we’d like to be towards the end of the season.”
Well now, isn’t that just music to the ears of Science’s competition? Five games, five blowout wins, and they are still a work in progress.
Challenges? Tests? So far the Wolverines have aced them all.
“We’re looking forward to playing in this new division,” Kiele said. “The competition is better. If you beat a team 7-0 every time, it’s kind of like, ‘Yeah we’re good, but we really want to face a team that is really good.’
“We really want to be challenged and tested to see how good we really are. But so far, we’re off to a great start.”