The Bronx Science boys soccer team has been a consistent power in the Bronx A Division for years. The Wolverines regularly cop the division crown, make deep runs in the Public School Athletic League playoffs, and have generally been considered the cream of Bronx soccer.
But last year was anything but regular for the Wolverines. Science finished the regular season a pedestrian 5-4-1, placed third in the divisional race behind champion Clinton, and made a one-and-done appearance in the PSAL playoffs where Bryant put an end to its season.
“Last year we had problems with consistency,” said Science junior Tim McCormick. “One game we’d beat a really good team, like when we beat Clinton 4-0 at home. And then the next game we’d lose 2-0 to one of the bottom teams in our division. We could just never find that consistency.”
So after two forfeit wins to open the season, the Wolverines finally made their way onto the field last Friday at Clinton, visiting the defending division champions. It was a litmus test game if ever there was one. And the Wolverines passed with flying colors.
Both McCormick and senior Hoyong Lee scored a pair of goals and Nathan Denham and Felix Reinhart added a score each as the Wolverines announced “we’re back” with a dominating 6-0 road victory.
“This was definitely gratifying,” McCormick said. “This field has given us problems in the past. We lost here the last two years, and they were both very close games. So it was nice to finally get that monkey off our back.”
Science jumped on Clinton when Denham opened the scoring with a goal early in the first half. It was a score that seemed to ignite the Wolverines as Lee padded their lead with two straight goals for a 3-0 advantage. When goals by Reinhart and McCormick built the Science lead to 5-0 at halftime, it certainly looked like the “old” Science team was back.
“We finally got a little rust off after the two forfeits,” Science coach Phil Cancellaro said. “We were a little slow to start, but the chemistry started building in the second part of the first half. We started making better passes and that’s our style. Then the goals started coming after our passes started connecting.”
McCormick’s second goal was the only tally of the second half as Science’s defense took over and kept the Governors in check. It was just one game, but the Wolverines had the look of a team that was using last season’s frustration as a motivation for now.
“When I was a freshman and sophomore, we had really good years,” Lee said. “But last year we had our ups and downs. So after two forfeits, getting a win against Clinton on their home field for the first time in two or three years, felt really good. It was a great way to start off the season.”
It wasn’t lack of talent that cost the Wolverines last season, Cancellaro said. It was intangibles.
“Last year, that was not to our standards,” Cancellaro said. “Our standards are winning a division title. It was a lack of chemistry last year. But this year we corrected that and we’re doing a lot better with the chemistry end of it.”
Cancellaro is not surprised his Wolverines aced their chemistry test against Clinton. Just that they did it in such a dominant fashion.
“I wasn’t expecting 6-0,” Cancellaro said. “I was expecting a much tighter game. But we were super pumped for this game, and we’d been talking about it for a while. This will set the tempo for the rest of the season.”
For Lee, a senior, this will be his final act with the Wolverines, so he hopes this is just the first of many big moments to come.
“We make the playoffs every year and we went pretty far three years ago,” Lee said of the Wolverines’ run to the PSAL quarterfinals in 2016. “But last year we were a first-round exit, and I was really (upset) and sad about it. So that makes me and the other players from last year really hungry this season.”
It was a statement win, for sure, and one Lee thinks could lead to a very special ride for the Wolverines this season.
“We have really good individual talents, so we just have to build up our chemistry and we’ll have a really good chance of winning everything this year,” Lee said. “This win over Clinton was a huge confidence boost for us because they won the division last year. So we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”