The Culmination of a Three Year Lacrosse Journey at Bronx Science

The Bronx Science Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse team ends their season on a high note.

Members+of+the+Boys+Varsity+Lacrosse+Team+compete+during+a+game.+

Maximilian Kramer

Members of the Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse Team compete during a game.

As the final whistle blew, the Bronx Science bench full of fans erupted in celebration. Everything was going to plan for the Bronx Science Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse team. But little did they know this would be the last game that Senior Captains Isaiah Singer ’22, Ivan Sirotkin ’22, Saliou Thiam ’22, and Nick Nanas ’22 would play. 

This 10-2 win against Columbus High School was supposed to propel the team into a playoff berth after an up-and-down season. Unfortunately, the Public School Athletics League (PSAL) ended up only putting six teams through, rather than eight as in previous years. As a result,  this game on a rainy Friday afternoon ended up being the final game of every senior player’s career: the culmination of 3-4 years of hard work and growth, and the final chapter in a voyage filled with excitement. 

For Singer, the journey to this point started in sophomore year. He’d been playing lacrosse for years on other teams but only joined the Bronx Science squad in tenth grade. He was one of the only players on the roster with any prior lacrosse experience. But that wasn’t out of the ordinary. Every year a fairly sizable portion of the Bronx Science roster were first time Lacrosse players. “During my sophomore year I saw that we lacked boys from our year, so I tried to get as many of my friends as possible to join Lacrosse, “ Singer told me. That was actually future captains like Ivan and Saliou got started.

However, just as the Spring 2020 lacrosse season was starting, the world shut down. The COVID-19 pandemic thwarted any hopes the team had for a promising season and everyone set their sights on the following year. Still, in-between the beginning of the pandemic and the start of the junior year season, in March of 2021, everything began to fall into place. Once going outside became relatively normal, Isaiah and Ivan began practicing together. Younger players took it upon themselves to improve, and over time, results showed. By the time their junior year season rolled around, Singer, Sirotkin, Thiam and the team’s goalie, Nick Nanas, had built chemistry and were ready to take the league by storm. 

In May of 2021, the team began practicing and playing once again. This was around a month  after the usual start of the season and there was a different vibe on the field — not a good one. The pandemic and late start time had the seniors on the team relatively detached. Some seniors, like Tim Mccarthy and Cameron Nejat, were forced to choose between soccer and lacrosse (both choosing the former), because the PSAL restarted all sports at the same time. 

“During the 2021 season a lot of seniors stopped coming to the games so we juniors had to really step it up and learn the game,” said Isaiah. The juniors stepped into their starting roles and made the best of a poor situation. Unfortunately, the team ended the short season with a 1-4 record, putting them in the last position in the division. 

“The end of our junior year left us with a bad taste in our mouths,” Ivan Sirotkin ’22 said. “We were disappointed in how we played,” added Isaiah. 

As the offseason rolled around and juniors were on their way to becoming seniors, the team knew they had to work extremely hard if they wanted to see improvement. That started with individual work. “Ivan and I played in the park at leastthree times a week for almost the whole summer,” Isaiah said. In fact, almost all of the returning players highlighted how important playing over the summer was for them. However, playing alone or with one other team member wouldn’t be enough to truly build camaraderie. In an effort to strengthen team bonds and learn to play together, the seniors decided to play a University Lacrosse season in the fall of 2022 with as many returning players. 

ULAX, a nation-wide organization, allows participants of any skill level to play competitive lacrosse. Some Bronx Science players had played a shortened ULAX season the year before, and were relatively unsuccessful. This season was similar. Isaiah said, “during the fall season…we struggled with getting enough guys every week.” 

Some of the issues that had plagued the junior year season still persisted. There were weeks in which the team would even have to pick up players from other teams. It wasn’t all bad because, while they only managed to accumulate a couple more wins than last year, the players grew, both individually and as a group. “For those who came there was a lot of improvement, “ Ivan said. It was clear that there was something to look forward to for the season ahead. 

After that fall it was almost time to begin the 2022 season. Isaiah, Ivan, Saliou, and Nick had already established themselves as captains, both to other players and Coach Barton Allen. They began to hold “captains practices” on Harris Field, often getting 15-20 kids of all grades to show up. They would run drills and teach new players some of the basics for about 1-2 hours for a couple days a week. These practices proved essential not only for improving skills and building chemistry, but also for recruiting players to try out. 

The Spring 2022 season started off slow with two losses in a row, with a close game against Columbus (5-6), followed by a blowout defeat to Frederick Douglas Academy (0-15). The team was not producing at the level anybody wanted, and early injuries to important players like starting Defenseman Dylan Marshall ‘22 contributed to low morale. But encouragement from Coach Allen and leadership from the Captains kept the team’s spirit alive. 

During the next game, Bronx Science bounced back with a 10-3 win over Cardozo High School and immediately followed that up with a 7-6 win over Curtis High School. They would then lose five in a row starting with a big loss to one of the best teams in the PSAL, Tottenville and a close 7-6 loss to Midwood High School. Three more defeats came after these ones, but the team was gaining momentum. In their second loss of the season to Frederick Douglas Academy, Bronx Science kept it a close game until the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter. And against Hunter, it took a magnificent overtime goal from one of the best players in the league to beat the stout Bronx Science defense. The team chemistry that had been building since those first “captains practices” was finally showing up. The stars and captains of the team, Thiam, Singer, Sirotkin and Nanas were playing their best lacrosse of the season at just the right time. In a late playoff push, Bronx Science won their last three games, beating New Dorp, Cardozo and, in a redemption of sorts, Columbus. Bronx Science had come full circle since their first game of the season and easily beat a team that had wrecked them in their first game. 

And even though this final surge wasn’t quite enough to propel our team into the playoffs, it capped off a successful season. “The 5-8 record really doesn’t reflect how well we played, “ said Vasu Patel, one of the seniors on the team. “We dealt with injuries, COVID-19, limited lacrosse knowledge, and having to practice on what is basically a public park,” he continued. There is a lot to like if you look back on this season, including what you could call a significant culture change. “The team started with almost no culture due to everyone not really having too much experience,” Singer reflected, “but over the course of the season the more experienced guys were able to teach the new guys important pillars of what makes a good team culture.”

The team is set up for success in the future both on and off the field. 

We can’t wait to watch. 

There is a lot to like if you look back on this season, including what you could call a significant culture change. “The team started with almost no culture due to everyone not really having too much experience,” Isaiah Singer ’22 reflected, “but over the course of the season the more experienced guys were able to teach the new guys important pillars of what makes a good team culture.”