Division Favorite MLK Dominates Centaurs
By Eamon Woods
Stuyvesant supporters sat on the edge of Riverside Park’s shaded field to watch their team take on the division rival Martin Luther King Knights (MLK) on Wednesday, September 12. This would be one of the toughest games of the season for the Centaurs, who hoped to prove that they could compete with the league’s best, but they fell 4-nil, giving them an even 1-1 record.
MLK controlled the ball from the beginning as its large, speedy forwards continued to win long balls over the top of Centaur midfielders and defenders. Senior, co-captain, and goalkeeper Maxwell Berkow responded to these bombardments with a series of spectacular saves. In addition, aggressive defense from senior and co-captain Lee Popa and sophomore Sean Fitzgerald continued to hold the Knights.
MLK finally broke through the tight defense near the midway point of the first half as a delicate through ball found its way between Centaur defenders who could only watch as a Knight slid the ball into the goal past Berkow’s outstretched arms.
The Knights’ superior touches on the ball and their incessant switching of fields kept the Centaurs on their toes. After a ball was played into the box, Berkow was forced to dive and accidentally fouled an opposing forward by sweeping him off his feet. The Knights put the ensuing penalty kick in the back of the net a few minutes before the halftime whistle sounded.
The second half very similar to the first as MLK controlled the midfield and did not let the Stuyvesant attack, led by senior and co-captain Asa Conover, get any chances. The accurate passing and defensive control of MLK enabled them to dominate possession, resulting in a beautiful header off a corner kick finding its way past Berkow shortly after the start of the second half.
The game’s fourth and final goal was scored when a precisely placed through ball trickled into the box onto the foot of an awaiting Knight who was swift to take advantage of the opportunity.
Though not the best possible result, the Centaurs’ came into the season with a goal of “second place in the league” to MLK, Conover said. “We’re not going to face anyone better than this.”
Stuyvesant Tramples Lab Museum United
By Rayyan Jokhai
After getting beaten by Martin Luther King Jr. High School, the Centaurs got back on track in their third game of the season. The team came out strong and was able to blow out Lab Museum United 4-1 on Friday, September 14.
In the first half, the team came out aggressively and outscored United 3-0. Two of the three goals came from sophomore Darien Cox, and the other came from senior and co-captain Asa Conover, who also had one assist in the game. “We started out kind of slow. We weren’t really in it, but we turned it up and played a good game,” Cox said.
In the second half, senior Matthew Hoffman committed a foul in the 18-yard box, allowing United to score its only goal of the game from the resulting penalty kick. However, Stuyvesant was not fazed and responded with a goal from sophomore Mohammed Haque. Each team had one goal in the second half, so the Centaurs’ strong play during the first helped them come out victorious. “Coming off of a loss against the top team in the city, we wanted to come out pretty angry in this game,” coach Vincent Miller said. “We needed to come out more aggressive. That’s really it.”
Senior, co-captain, and goalkeeper Maxwell Berkow stopped most of the attempts to score by Lab Museum, and ended the game with a total of five saves, allowing just the one goal. “I think the team played very well today, and we improved on the last two [games],” Berkow said. “We worked harder during practice, and ended up playing much better in the game.”
The Centaurs made several adjustments from their previous game. “The last game was a whole different level of play. MLK is the best team I’ve ever played against, so we had a different strategy going into that game,” senior and co-captain Asa Conover said. “In that game, we were trying to hold the defense, but in this one, we worked on pressing up and on offense.”
Scoreless Draw Against JREC Disappoints Centaurs
By Alison Fu
An afternoon of sputtering offense and tough defense set up a frustrating, scoreless game that went into overtime, and ultimately gave the Stuyvesant Centaurs their first draw of the season against the Julia Richman Educational Center (JREC) Fearless Panthers.
One of the key moments of the game came early in the first half. Sophomore Mohammed Haque had a great chance to score rebound off the crossbar, which foreshadowed the other barely missed goals that made up the rest of the match. The continuous string of early misses was part of the team’s slow start and made the players struggle to rebuild their confidence.
“We missed scoring opportunities during the first minutes of the game and these visibly brought down our team’s morale,” senior and co-captain Asa Conover said.
The Centaurs saw many more opportunities in the second half, which was a welcome change. “Our offense was definitely feeling the pressure going into the second half after not being able to punch one in during the first,” senior and goalkeeper Nick Miller said.
However, the team was still was not able to break the stalemate. Conover’s breakaways either finished short of the goal or with a shot that missed the goal, senior and co-captain Maxwell Berkow missed several clear shots, and senior and co-captain Lee Popa’s shots on goal were easily saved by JREC’s goalie.
In contrast, the defense looked much sharper. By consistently using its speed out of the backline to its advantage, the opposing offense did not get many chances to score. Sophomore Sean Fitzgerald and senior Matthew Hoffman were especially solid on defense, clearing the ball when needed as well as breaking up potentially promising plays of the JREC players, while the rest of the team did a great job of starting the counterattack afterwards.
“Our defense transitioned throughout the game really well and was able to hang tough when JREC applied more pressure,” Hoffman said.
The 2-1-1 Centaurs hoped to rebound against their division rivals, the Beacon Blue Demons, in a game that could go a long way in determining the runner-up in the Manhattan A division.
Division Rival Blue Devils Defeat Centaurs
By: Katie Mullaney
The first half of this rivalry match between Stuyvesant and Beacon proved to be the deciding factor of the afternoon on Monday, September 24. The Blue Devils jumped out to an early lead against Stuyvesant, continuing to add points throughout the first half, and eventually emerged with a 3-1 victory over the Centaurs.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Centaurs played an entirely defensive game, with the ball remaining mostly on their half of the field, crossing the midfield line only a few times. The defense of senior Matthew Hoffman, sophomore Sean Fitzgerald, and freshman Paolo Fossati kept Beacon from taking any shots on goal, until halfway through the first half, when Beacon scored off a corner kick.
Beacon’s first goal gave them momentum, and they quickly scored two more goals, one off the rebound of a save by senior and goalie Nick Miller, and the other on a fast break down the field. “[Beacon] controlled the ball in the first half and that’s why they scored more,” coach Vincent Miller said.
At the end of the first half, senior and co-captain Maxwell Berkow scored from in the box on an assist from sophomore Mohammed Haque for the Centaurs’ first and only goal, making the score 3-1.
The start of the second half brought a more even match between the two teams. There was no clear dominant team, and the ball spent an equal amount of time on each side of the field. Stuyvesant’s offense failed to capitalize on opportunities downfield, while Nick Miller made several saves preventing the Blue Devils from scoring.
Twice during the second half, he made saves that brought him out of the goal, giving Beacon two huge opportunities. However, both times, sophomore Meril Takizawa stepped up into the goal and deflected both of Beacon’s shots. “During the two plays in the box, I saw Nick going up to get the ball, so I stayed back a bit and when they got past him, I automatically went in to try and stop them,” Takizawa said.
Coming off of the 0-0 tie in the second half, the Centaurs are confident they have the ability to beat Beacon the next time they play them. “We know we definitely need good defense next time,” Berkow said.