No matter what the sign says; after just three games no one on Steinert is close to talking about state championships. But, the Spartans have looked pretty promising in their first 3-0 start in five years (Photo by Rich Fisher)
By Rich Fisher
Sep. 17: Coming off a 7-12-1 season in which 12 players graduated, there weren’t a whole lot of bright predictions for the Steinert boys soccer team this year.
But two weeks into the campaign, the Spartans may not be flying under the radar anymore.
After a 2-0 win over Robbinsville Monday, Steinert stood at 3-0 for the first time since 2013, when it won its first four before stumbling to a 6-6-2 season.
So, what makes anyone think there won’t provide with a repeat of that meltdown?
Start with the fact that the Spartans defeated Princeton – perpetually one of the top teams in the CVC and Central Jersey – in overtime after trailing 2-0 this past Saturday. That was followed with a dominating win over a Ravens team that entered at 2-0-1. And the season started with a 2-1 victory over an improved Notre Dame squad.
Three wins over three quality sides should be an indication that this is no fluke.
“I think overall, the group mentality has been really strong this season,” third-year coach Anthony Tessein said. “They recognize that last year at times they were a little fractured. They spent a lot of time this year on their own, with me encouraging them, on team building and just being together. I gotta give a lot of credit to my captains, Max DiPierro, Adrian Strawinski and Aidan Klein; they’re the head of the whole thing, and I think a lot of it has to do with team bonding compared to tactics.”
Junior forward Justin Brunow feels that cohesiveness counts.
“We’re always together, our team chemistry is great,” Brunow said. “We don’t argue. We’re working as hard as we can every day at practice to get better as a team and it’s paid off. We were expecting big things but we couldn’t go into it thinking we’re this breakout team and then come out and lose games. This is the start we wanted, now we need to keep it up the rest of the year.”
Brunow is the lone Spartan with two goals, as six different players have scored Steinert’s seven tallies.
“I like to think we have a balanced attack,” Tessein said. “We feel like any guy off the bench, any starter, any offensive, defensive, midfield guy can score at any time.”
Robbinsville coach Jeff Fisher, whose team was outshot 14-3 by Steinert, feels that the Spartans ability to defend is also key.
“They do a good job in the middle, they do a good job pressuring you all over the field,” Fisher said. “They’re not the biggest physically, but they’re fast and relentless.”
Perhaps what is most important is that Steinert earned what could be considered a signature win when it rallied to defeat the Little Tigers. After falling behind by two, they stormed back with goals from Kyle Grehan, Aidan Klein and Dylan Kotch.
“We have the belief we can win going into every game and they really believed they could beat that Princeton team,” Tessein said. “But I think what’s really important about it, was the way we beat them. We got down early, and in past seasons that was our MO and we never climbed back. Instead, they clawed their way back. That gives this team confidence that not only can they come back, they can come back against a really well coached, strong side.
Brunow felt that Steinert’s first goal made a huge difference.
“Once we scored that, all cylinders were going at it,” he said. “They’re definitely a good team and we’re losing 2-0 and we did not put our heads down. Last year we didn’t have those type of wins to give us that confidence boost we need for the season. Now we’re 3-0, playing really well together. I think it’s gonna be a great season.”
Early results seem to back that statement up.