A Strong Start for the Peglegs

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Issue 3, Volume 112

By Roxie Gosfield, Susie McKnight 

Cover Image

The game had dragged on for more hours than goals on the scoreboard. It certainly seemed to both spectators and the team itself that the boys’ soccer Peglegs’ grueling trial against the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering (HSMSE) would end in a tie. As overtime began, the team stepped onto the field with low hopes and high tensions. But those feelings didn’t stop them from giving the game their all. The Peglegs tapped into a supply of energy, and co-captain and senior Mathias Melucci moved the ball down the wing, setting up junior Ryan Petrauskas for the header that won the game within one minute of overtime. It was here, with their first win under the belt, that the Peglegs’ promising season really began.

After over a year away from the sport, the Peglegs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity soccer team, has returned with a winning mentality. Led by co-captains and seniors Benjamin Hamel, Melucci, and Leo Rahn, the Peglegs have started off the season strong with five wins, one loss, and one tie.

At the outset of the season, the team faced a 5-0 loss against Martin Luther King Jr. High School. However, the squad did not let this setback inhibit their potential. Rallying together for its next game, the team narrowly defeated the HSMSE. All three captains deemed this game their most important win so far. “Our victory against HSMSE gave us momentum that set the tone to win our next three games after the loss,” Rahn said.

Rahn’s statement proved true as they defeated their next three opponents by a margin of at least three goals, and one opponent by 10 goals. Throughout these games, the team has improved immensely. “It took a while to figure out ideal positioning on the field and build confidence, but once we did, we saw our playing quality multiply,” Hamel said.

These developments in chemistry have come to the team after a lot of playing time, both in games and at practice. Coach Vincent Miller pointed out their improvement in scoring. “Our goals have started to pick up, especially thanks to juniors Aden Garbutt, Patrick Kawulok, [...] Petrauskas, and Jack Colvin,” he said. Each player he named has upwards of four goals.

The game against Beacon High School on October 4 was a chance for the Peglegs to prove themselves against a team with a strong reputation. Though the Peglegs’ winning streak was great for morale and team chemistry, from Beacon onward, they will be facing historically harder opponents. The upcoming games present multiple opportunities for the team to demonstrate its strength, chemistry, and perseverance, rather than just its scoring ability.

While the team hoped for a win against Beacon, the game resulted in a 0-0 tie. Dominating possession and moving off each other and the ball, the Peglegs were able to open channels in Beacon’s midfield and defense, resulting in opportunities to attack on goal. With the Peglegs’ back line serving as a brick wall, they shut down almost all of Beacon’s attempts to go forward and distributed the ball out quickly in order to maintain possession. The midfield was then able to build from there, utilizing both central and wide players to effectively stretch out the opposing team’s defense, which created space and time for Garbutt, the striker, to attack. Though Stuy had plenty of shots on net, many of them breathtakingly close, the team failed to convert them to goals, leaving the scoreboard empty.

Nevertheless, the Peglegs’ ability to hold off a strong team like Beacon is a testament to their potential this season. “I think we played really well in that game. It was our best performance of the whole year. However, we need to finish our chances,” Garbutt said. This tie was a victory for the Peglegs as it boosted team confidence and morale as they planned for the remainder of the season, along with playoffs.

Looking forward, the Peglegs want to focus on two particular goals in order to reach their true potential: holding second place in their division, which they are currently tied for, and taking down John Jay High School. “Something we’ll need to work on moving forward is bringing the confidence and grit we had in our Beacon game to our upcoming matches and continuing to improve our finishing ability on the pitch,” Melucci said. Considering their current high standing in the Manhattan A Division of PSAL, the squad is hoping to be seeded well in the upcoming playoffs, providing it with easier competition for the early rounds. Though the Peglegs have not tended to make it past the second round in the past, this season looks like the right time to break this barrier. Regardless of the teams they are up against, the playoffs will be tough, and the sentiment expressed by Melucci is exactly the mentality the team needs to maintain throughout them.

So far, the Peglegs have had a promising season full of improvement, excitement, and potential. However, the team’s success goes beyond the standings. “Aside from playing soccer, the guys and I have had so many laughs and good times,” Miller said.