On Saturday, September 25, Stuyvesant FC walked off the soccer field on the losing end of a hard fought, 80-minute battle with division rival Beacon, the second ranked team in the city. After falling behind in the first half, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity soccer team tied the game in the second half on a goal by junior Neil Maheshwari, but was unable to hold back Beacon’s offense, eventually losing the game 2-1.
The defeat was Stuyvesant FC’s second 2-1 loss to Beacon in as many years, even though it came out on top in its second matchup last season. With one more game against its rivals still to come, the team hopes to repeat that winning performance. Despite its 7-4-1 record, the team has had its fair share of ups and downs, this season. There were games where it played brilliantly, like in its 6-0 rout of rival Julia Richman Educational Center, a team that has posed problems for Stuyvesant FC in the past. However, the team also struggled in games it should have won, losing to and tying Bard High School, a team that just moved up from the B division this season. “I think we could have played better games against Beacon, Bard and MLK,” coach Feliks Fuksman said. “We didn’t capitalize on our chances to score and made some mental mistakes, defensively.”
Starting the season off against Martin Luther King High School (MLK), the number one team in the city that is once again nationally ranked, did not help the team’s cause. “It’s always hard starting off the season against MLK,” senior and co-captain Arik Raviv said. “We’ve only just started showing how good we are as a team.” Despite scoring against the powerhouse team for the first time in two years, Stuyvesant FC lost both matchups.
This tough first game of the season was only one of the reasons for Stuyvesant FC’s slow start. Some of the players were on vacation toward the end of the summer and were unable to attend the eight practices mandated by the PSAL in order to be able to play before the season started. “We didn’t have all our players together, and we didn’t do the best job at getting all our paperwork in,” said senior and co-captain Colin O’Connor about the beginning of the season.
This, coupled with the rough first game, led to Stuyvesant FC’s losing two and tying one of its first six games. Raviv was also sidelined for three games due to a back injury, and senior Luca Senise, who has been a key player in the past, played in only four of the team’s first 12 games. Despite these obstacles, Stuyvesant FC has come together to put up a respectable record with as many wins as it had last year. “Now that we’ve been practicing together, we’ve kind of jelled into a much more solid team,” O’Connor said.
The team has also begun to play better as it becomes more accustomed to the coaching style of its relatively new coach, Fuksman, who is only in his second year with Stuyvesant. “He [Fuksman] seems to be more comfortable with the players this year, and he seems to be more experienced,” senior Adam Yabroudi said.
Fuksman was a professional referee before he came to Stuyvesant to coach, so he needed to make some modifications in order to be a successful coach. “Fuksman is a much better leader this year,” Raviv said. “He seems to be coming around to some of the tactical adjustments that you have to make for high school soccer.”
These adjustments included making some changes to the team’s strategy and positioning. “We’ve fixed the backline, and we’ve fixed the midfield by pushing Colin [O’Connor] and [senior] Dan [Beer] up into the middle, and now we have [freshman] Amil [Osmani] in the back as a stopper,” Yabroudi said. “So now that we’ve fixed the lineup, we seem to be working much better together.” Osmani was one of the surprises to the team this year, playing significant minutes with one assist and one goal in only his first year with Stuyvesant FC.
Stuyvesant FC still has arguably its two biggest games of the season yet to come. The team will try to avenge its loss to Beacon on Wednesday, October 20, and its last game of the regular season against Julia Richman could possibly determine whether it comes in third or fourth in its division. With its season’s hopes hanging in the balance, the team remains confident as always.
“We’re going to win our last two games, and then, we’ll see what happens come playoff time,” Raviv said.