Macs Begin Season Anew in Non-Conference Schedule
After a dismal conference showing this year, the Mens’ Soccer team has turned it around during the non-conference games schedule. This year, the Macs were winless for all nine of their conference games. The poor showing was due to an inability to generate enough possession for any offense to develop out of the midfield. As a result, the opposing team often controlled the ball in the Macs’ side of the field and would eventually exploit a weakness to score. Another glaring weakness was the mental side of the game; the team would often let up a goal and get dejected instead of bouncing back.
The winless record did not mean, however, that the team always played poorly. The team had some brilliant displays of individual talent. Benjamin Guigui, a freshman from France, quickly developed into the striker role, scoring a beautiful long range goal against St. Joseph’s. Simon Goldstein, a transfer student hailing from Vienna, Austria, often blew by defenders with his dribbling skills. The duo of Daniel Benchimol, the team’s field general and Captain Jack Sztrigler developed into an efficient and quick passing midfield unit. Though it would display lapses, the flat four defensive line gelled into an unit, and caught opponents’ offenses offside, including catching NYU-Polytechnic offside 11 times. Adam Barel admirably filled in as goalkeeper for the injured starter Joey Blechner.
As a whole, the team fought hard against two top teams, losing 5-2 to Maritime and 6-1 to St. Joseph’s of Long Island and in two 4-0 losses to Old Westbury and Mt. St. Vincent, the team put up much more of a fight than the score suggested. Specifically, in the Mt. St. Vincent game, the team let up three quick first half goals and was in danger of letting the game run away. During halftime, the team gathered and declared that the game was still winnable and that it simply would not give up. Though Mt. St. Vincent scored one more goal, Yeshiva actually dominated the second half, with more shots on goal and more possession of the ball than the opponents. The game marked a turning point for the men with the team banding together and becoming mentally tougher.
After returning from the Chagim break, the team started on its non-conference schedule, facing teams that, on the whole, are less competitive than the teams in the Skyline conference. The men emphatically beat St. Joseph’s of Brooklyn 5-0, featuring a goal and three assists from Guigui, two goals by Benchimol, and one goal by defensive midfielder Max Burton. In the next contest, the men faced off against Berkeley College of NJ. Last year, Berkeley beat Yeshiva 6-2, and in the start of this year’s contest, after a back and forth first half, scored one goal. In the very beginning of the second half, Berkeley scored again, but instead of folding, the Macs fought back with grit, diving and sprinting for every ball. In the 84th minute, sophomore David Roumani reaped the benefits of the team’s efforts and guided a rebound from a beautiful free kick by Benchimol into the back of the net. Yeshiva kept up the pressure and came with inches of tying the game on another scorching attempt by Benchimol. Though the game ended in a 2-1 loss, it showcased the newfound toughness and brotherhood of the team.
In their latest game, the Macs beat Sarah Lawrence 1-0, with senior Zecharia Hirsch scoring his first goal of the season off of an assist from Benchimol. The team played what the players generally agreed was their best game of the season in preserving the lead in a tight game as well as playing a free-flowing and offensive minded game. Through the start of the non-conference schedule, the Macs are now 2-1 with two shutouts. The Macs will next face St. Joseph’s of Brooklyn in a rematch on 11/7 and hope to take their winning momentum into the team’s two final matches against City College and Berkeley College of NY.