Preseason girls soccer: No. 4 Bronx Science
Annie Eckstein recorded a fine coaching debut by leading Bronx Science to a runners-up spot to Beacon in the PSAL city championship last season.
The reigning Bronx A division champions will try to make another run, but there will be a challenge in year two with some key players injured, and a tougher schedule set up by the PSAL.
“We have a couple of key players who are injured that are making things difficult,” Eckstein said. “Our first few weeks will be tough.”
Bronx Science remains a talented team that is in a bit of transition. Sixteen-goal scorer Phoebe Dawkins, goalkeeper Lucy Evert and Jackie Widen were among eight seniors who graduated.
Eckstein will have to find scoring options at least for a while to replace her key starters.
After scoring 17 goals last season, skilled junior forward Isabella Pecorari will miss a few weeks with an ankle injury. Midfielder/defender Alexandra Schuman is out for a month with a knee injury. Gianna Finz scored nine goals in her freshman year, but is not expected to return until the start of the playoffs after tearing her ACL in the spring.
“We’re still trying to figure things out,” Eckstein said. “We have a strong core returning and once these girls get healthy, we should be set. We’re still working on trying to strengthen our depth.”
Leadership will be delivered by senior captain Elizabeth Schaefer, who will start in midfielder and push up the field to aid the attack. Miami Rahaman will anchor the midfield and is good at passing and scoring with both feet.
Eckstein is excited about the younger class of players, who she says has matured after a few seasons on the team.
Sofia Vainesman will start in defense alongside Catherine Foy. Midfielder Clara Duttonkneaves will see a lot more playing time and promising sophomore Shayna Ross has been adjusting well to her new role in defense.
The only two freshmen on the roster will immediately get playing time. Lidia Weiner can play forward and has been considered to start at goalkeeper. Amanda Kahn can help out at midfielder or defense.
“We have been putting people in positions they are not used to,” Schaefer said. “They’re still good players and have been able to play well and work it out. I think we’ll be even better when we get our key players that are injured back.”
Eckstein says the team will take some time to jell in a much tougher division this year after the PSAL merged the Manhattan A and Bronx divisions this year. It will create some intriguing matchups, including a title game rematch against Beacon Friday in the season opener at Williamsbridge Oval.
The Wolverines knows it won’t be easy, but the team has embraced the mindset that they will rise up to the challenge to maintain their status as title contenders.
“I think that’s good. It motivates us in practice,” Eckstein said. “And I think it will be a lot more challenging. We’re not really used to that. We’re going to have to see mentally how we overcome those challenges. I like it. I think we’ll be better because of the challenge.”
Check out our No. 3 team Tuesday at 10 a.m.