Is there such a thing as being too good?
That may be the case for the Bronx Science girls soccer team, and it’s a problem that’s not about to change anytime soon.
The Wolverines, under head coach Annie Eckstein, have won two straight Bronx A-1 Division titles, have advanced to the Public School Athletic League championship game five times since the 2011 season — winning it in 2012 and 2015 — and have now posted a 24-0-1 regular season record since 2016.
But the one thing Eckstein and her Wolverines crave the most is stiffer competition during the season, and it’s not easy to come by all that often.
Science did get a good test last week in a tightly contested 2-1 victory over a quality Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy.
The bad news? That win completed the Wolverines’ season series with the Lady Tigers, and there is little in the way of resistance for Science the rest of the regular season.
“I would have liked this game later in the season to get us ready for the playoffs,” Eckstein said. “They are the best team we are going to face the rest of the regular season.”
Instead Science can expect to steamroll the rest of Bronx A-1 with a third straight divisional crown expected by the end of October. And while wins are always welcome for Eckstein and her team, the lack of competition is something the Wolverines have to guard against going forward.
“I think mentally we still have a lot of work to do,” Eckstein said. “I like the effort that I saw out of us in the second half. I thought we were a little complacent in the first half. We definitely had some opportunities to score goals in the first half that we did not put away, and we have to own those goals or we’re going to keep a team in the game when we should be dominating.”
The Wolverines took a 1-0 lead after Sofia Mahairas scored on a free kick in the first half. RKA evened things in the second when Natalie Aracena found the back of the net for the Lady Tigers to knot the game at 1.
But RKA’s euphoria was short-lived. Science scored again just minutes later on a goal by Jenny Brown for what proved to be the game winner.
Afterward, Brown said she enjoyed playing in a rare tight match.
“I liked it because it pushes us to play better together,” she said. “It’s better practice for us than playing against those easier teams.”
Despite her latest victory, Eckstein was less than pleased with her team’s effort during parts of the game.
“We just haven’t had competitive games in our division, and I think that’s why we get a little complacent,” said Eckstein, who last tasted regular-season defeat on Oct. 15, 2015.
“But hopefully they see from this game that we still have a lot of work to do. I thought in the second half we worked a lot harder, but our passes were not where they should have been. We were lucky a few times defensively, and I’d rather be good than lucky.”
Aracena’s goal was the first allowed this season by the 4-0 Wolverines who, so far, have outscored their opponents 17-1. Expect more of that type of domination for the remainder of the regular season.
“You never can tell what’s going to happen in terms of injuries,” Eckstein said. “There’s always that unknown. So I don’t want to take anything for granted. But I hope what this game shows us is that we can’t be complacent.”
Eckstein hopes to add some scrimmages with other elite programs in the city in order to keep her Wolverines at the top of their game.
But so far, finding field space for those contests has proved challenging.
In the meantime, Brown and her Wolverines teammates will have to continue to test themselves against far inferior competition.
“We all want to go as far as we can when we get to the playoffs, so in every game we have to find ways to challenge ourselves,” Brown said. “So when we get to harder games, we can win those.”