Drive and Determination: A Profile of the Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team

A staple of athletics at Bronx Science, the Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team takes on competition while maintaining their close knit community of players.


Donna Celentano

The team engages in their pregame cheer which has been a Girls’ Varsity Soccer tradition for many years.

At a school well known for its academic prowess, particularly in STEM, sports often fly under the radar. But in actuality, Bronx Science boasts an impressive variety of sports teams and championship titles. The Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team in particular has consistently been a dominant athletic force, taking home the PSAL championship in 2010, 2013, and most recently, 2016. 

This year, led by the coach and “green machine” mastermind Annie Eckstein, the girls were determined to take the title once more. With new additions to the team such as Thalia Anastas ’26, a ninth grader who racked up twelve goals this season, and seasoned players like senior and co-captain Kiele Morgan ’23, who has long been a powerful presence on the field, the Wolverines were more ready than ever to secure the championship this year. 

The team practiced every day from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., making it a large time commitment, and so balancing school work and soccer duties was sometimes a struggle. 

“I spent a lot of my free time apart from soccer on my schoolwork,” said Morgan. “It was definitely hard to manage at times, but I knew it was worth it.”

However, team members learned how to work around their schedule and prioritize both academics and soccer commitments.  Fellow co-captain Sabrina Tiger ’23 added, “I have really learned to utilize SGI before practice to talk to teachers and get work done. It’s a struggle, but so worth it because I love and care about the team so much.” 

 For most of the girls, soccer has always been a defining feature of their life. Many play on club teams and grew up with the game. Still, for some players, being on the team is what really reignited their passion for soccer. 

Melanie Cruz ‘23 moves the ball up the field to an awaiting Emmy Sale ‘25. “Being on a team that was willing to teach me and help me get better really brought back my love of soccer.” (Allegra Lief)

“I joined the team during my sophomore year after not playing soccer for about ten years,” Melanie Cruz ’23 explained. “I watched soccer games my whole life, but being on a team that was willing to teach me and help me get better really brought back my love of soccer.” 

The team’s drive and determination can be credited for their long term success. There is a palpable sense of focus at practices and games, and it’s clear that they give their all every day on the field. Their victories and success are not for nothing – it is their shared sense of team growth that have helped them rise.

And of course, this wouldn’t be possible without a little help from Coach Eckstein. Leading the Wolverines since 2011, Eckstein first played as a goalie at Dartmouth and was a soccer assistant at Georgetown. She previously coached at Lehman High School before transitioning to coaching at Bronx Science. She has since been a staple of the Girls’ Varsity Soccer team at Bronx Science for a little over a decade.

“I love being a part of the program,” Eckstein remarks. “One of the elements of coaching at Science that I enjoy the most is empowering the players to truly lead the team.” 

Eckstein has a hands-on style of coaching and is constantly coming up with inventive techniques and drills that push the girls to improve their defensive and finishing skills. She pushes them to grow as soccer players and constantly looks for the players’ input and ideas. For many of them, she is one of the defining features that made their experience on Varsity Soccer that much better.

“Coach Eckstein has given me personalized feedback and advice,” said Emerson Prentice ’25. “She has motivated me to put my all in and leave everything on the field.”

When asked what she looks for in an ideal player, Eckstein explains that bringing a positive attitude and asking how one can contribute is especially important. She also explains that while some players join the team for leadership or competitive opportunities, she finds that the players who are most willing to contribute and put in the work reap the most benefits. Eckstein also agrees that being able to work well on a team and being adaptable is vital. 

At its core, aside from any championship titles or competition, the team is about the community and the bonds built. 

Players Helen Stone ’23 and Darby Sale ’25 embrace after scoring a goal during the Senior Game. (Donna Celentano)

“Soccer is a sport that requires a lot of teamwork,” said Tiger. “Even though it’s a fall sport and goes by fast, we still become a close knit family.”

During the fall 2022 season, the team hosted bonding events to facilitate a stronger team, both on and off the field. The girls  hiked Breakneck Ridge (notoriously one of the most challenging hikes in the Hudson River Valley), hosted team dinners and meals, and had “Senior Night,” where the team came together to celebrate its most senior members.

For many players, they have made some of their best friends through the team and created a family that will transcend their high school years. 

“Soccer has given me a community of friends,” Morgan explained. “It is something I really look forward to every fall.”

 Especially for ninth graders, soccer is one of their first introductions to Bronx Science, and it really shapes their impression of the school and community. 

Caroline Ferrell ’26 and Co-Captain Kiele Morgan ’23 exemplify the close relationships between upperclassmen and ninth graders on the team. (Allegra Lief)

 “I’m really glad I could start out my Bronx Science experience being on the team,” Thalia Anastas ’26 explains, “All of the seniors look out for everyone, and the team is so close.” 

For soccer seniors Talia Lang, Sabrina Tiger, Kiele Morgan, Gabriela Jimenez, Lucia Dec-Prat, Helen Stone, Elena Uceda, Olivia Bernstein, Melanie Cruz and Nicole Fowler – who make up a significant portion of the team – this was their last season to attempt to win a championship. 

The only regular season that the seniors experienced was during their ninth grade year, before the world was plunged into the COVID-19 pandemic, school shutdowns, and the transition to virtual learning. Their sophomore season was transformed by COVID-19, as all of their practices were accompanied by masks and social distancing requirements, and the team’s games and competitive tournaments were severely cut back. Only in the last two years has the team returned to a somewhat normal environment

Last year, these girls muscled through to the PSAL octofinals, only to be defeated by Bard in a heartbreaking game. This year they were more than ready to take home this championship title. With their previous years as a foundation for their prospective success, they clawed their way into the quarterfinals. 

In their match they fought valiantly against Tottenville, but in the end they were unable to make it to the semi finals. It’s a remarkable feat that they were capable of reaching their position. But the Girls’ Varsity soccer story is not over yet. 

“I am obviously sad the season is over,” Prentice remarked. “But I know that our team has so much more to give, and we are going to come back even stronger next year.”

To the seniors, the team has been a defining factor of their experience at Bronx Science. Though they won’t have the chance to contest again for Bronx Science, their experiences and teachings will act as a foundation for younger players going forward. 

Through it all, the Wolverine’s strong community is what kept them together. 

“Just because the season is over doesn’t mean the friendships we made during it have to be as well,” Morgan added. “I know that we will continue to hold onto this team spirit for the rest of this year and into next season as well.” 

“Soccer is a sport that requires a lot of teamwork,” said Sabrina Tiger ’23. “Even though it’s a fall sport and goes by fast, we still became a close knit family.”