The Peglegs On the Aim for Playoffs
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With only seconds left in the game, the Stuyvesant Peglegs, the boys’ varsity soccer team, were down by one against Washington Irving High School. The entire game had led up to these last moments. The desire to win was apparent on each player’s face—both on the field and on the sidelines. Anxiety filled Pier 40, as numerous Stuyvesant students watched to cheer on the Peglegs in their last regular-season home game. All they needed was one more goal. One more goal and they would earn their spot in the playoffs. As the referee glanced down at his watch and got ready to blow the whistle, forward Jeremy Moller raced down the field, leaving two defenders in the dust. Knowing this was his last chance, Moller took a step and struck the ball. Every person on the premise followed the ball with their eyes and watched as it skimmed the crossbar and fell out of bounds. The whistle blew, and the game ended. The Peglegs had lost.
After a devastating end to last season, the Peglegs have lots to prove this season. For some, like senior captains Jeremy Moller and Henry Kotkin, this season is their last chance to fulfill their long-time goal of making it past the first round of playoffs. Coming off a record of 4-5-1 in the regular season last year, Kotkin says, “Our number one goal is to make it to the playoffs because we didn’t make it last year.” With practices every day and scrimmages every week, the boys are on the path to overcoming the inevitably difficult season ahead.
In an effort to prepare, the Peglegs scrimmaged many tough teams from outside their division during the offseason. Playing notoriously challenging schools like Brooklyn Technical High School, the Peglegs managed to secure one win, one tie, and two losses. For the captains, this is an opportunity to find the weak spots in their lineup and strengthen it before the regular season begins. Kotkin explains, “We have a solid lineup, but some of our bench players that come into the game definitely need to step up in certain positions.” The starting center backs, senior Lewis Woloch and junior Amane Anderson, were both injured during the preseason games, so the defensive line, and thus the whole team, suffered without their lineup intact.
It’s crucial for the Peglegs to strengthen both their starting lineup and bench, as there will be 12 seniors graduating this year. With some of their leading scorers like Sean Takada (‘19) and Kevin Mitchell (‘19) gone, forwards Moller and sophomore Leo Rahn will need to step up and fill their shoes. Furthermore, with the big loss from the lineup, the underclassmen will need to be ready for a challenge next year. Moller said, “Our starting lineup is primarily seniors, so a big part of this season is to help develop the players that are going to be making up the team in the coming years.” With the addition of six freshmen, it will be integral to strengthen and prepare them for when they come off the bench.
This season, the Peglegs will once again face their longtime rival—Martin L. King Jr. High School—as well as new teams like Beacon High School and Millennium High School. Martin L. King finished the regular season with an undefeated record, and then went on to win the City Championship. Beacon and Millenium both went into playoffs with an 11-1 record, having only lost to each other. The added pressure of competitive new teams will make success more difficult to obtain for the Peglegs.
Considering the boys will need to win or tie a majority of their games to make the playoffs, each player will need to display extreme determination and perseverance this year. Many of the teams they will play made playoffs last year, while the Peglegs didn’t. With all the injuries and new lineups, the Peglegs will need to strengthen their chemistry and rectify their flaws. However, this is not an impossible feat. Every practice, the Peglegs come in ready to work and improve. Every team has the same goal of winning a championship title, but in the end, it comes down to which team wants it the most. And only the Peglegs can decide how badly they want to win.