Kennedy ready to challenge soccer foes

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The thing about the Bronx Science boys soccer program is that they are never short on confidence. 

When the Wolverines step on the field, they not only play all-out to win, but more importantly, they expect to win. Game in and game out. 

That’s the kind of mindset one develops from playing in a program that has won 83 games and lost just 23 in head coach Philip Cancellaro’s almost decade-long hitch at Bronx Science. 

So when the Wolverines’ season opener with Kennedy — a team they swept the series from in each of the past two seasons — ended in a 0-0 tie, Cancellaro got his team’s attention in his post-game talk. 

The theme of his group chat? Using this experience as a wake-up call.

“Do we expect to win? Oh yeah,” Cancellaro said. “But I wouldn’t use the word ‘disappointed.’ I’d say it was a learning experience. We’ve had a lot of success in the past, but the success we’ve had has graduated, so this is a new group of guys learning their roles and trying to find their way on the team.”

Science has 15 freshmen and sophomores on its 30-man roster, so it is a bit on the younger side compared to past teams. But there are still a lot of veterans who have been through the league battles that have resulted in four straight division titles under Cancellaro, notably seniors Zach Seigelstein, Lucio Vainesman and goalkeeper Teddy Lowen.

So were the Wolverines perhaps a little overconfident coming into their matchup with Kennedy? Lowen thinks so. 

“We expect the best out of our whole team, and we expect to win the division this year like we’ve done the past four years,” Lowen said. “We were expecting to come in here and play our game and get a win, but JFK, props to them. They came out and were ready to give it their all, and that’s what they did.”

Seigelstein pointed to the Wolverines general malaise throughout the game as the reason for the lackluster performance against the Knights.

“This will motivate us,” Seigelstein said. “We need to get better in a lot of phases of the game. I don’t think we were respecting this (matchup with Kennedy), so we’re going to get better going forward. 

“But we weren’t prepared, and if you’re not prepared, you’re not going to play well.”

Bronx Science not opening the season with a win was one side of the story, as the Wolverines have posted unbeaten regular seasons in two of the past three seasons. The other story, however, is upstart Kennedy. The Knights went toe-to-toe with the defending champions, and just may be a major player in the Bronx A1 Division this season. 

Both Cancellaro and Seigelstein see a much-improved Kennedy squad compared to last year’s version.

“They’re very big and long,” Cancellaro said. “I think both teams were a little rusty coming into their first match, but the second time around, I think will be a better matchup for both teams.”

“They are definitely much better than they were last year,” Seigelstein added.

But that doesn’t mean Bronx Science will hand over its division crown streak easily, even if Singer said his Knights are ready for whatever comes at them this season. For now, the division championship still runs through Bronx Science.

“Of course it does,” Lowen said. “You’ll see us winning the championship this year, don’t worry.”

But it might not be the carefree and easy ride it has been in years past for the Wolverines, and that could be because of a resurgent Kennedy program.

“Can we challenge Bronx Science? Hell yeah,” Singer said. “We’re going to be the thorn in a lot of people’s sides this year. A lot of these kids I’ve been working with since they were freshmen and sophomores, and now they’re juniors and seniors. So this team has just grown up, and I really believe in them.”

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