Win and you’re in.
Brooklyn Tech’s boys soccer team notched a 2–1 victory over Erasmus Hall on Oct. 20, securing a berth to the Public Schools Athletic League postseason and setting the tone for, what the squad hopes, will be a deep playoff run.
It was another close game for the Engineers, but unlike earlier this season, the team managed to hold on down the stretch.
“This is basically the start of our playoffs,” said Brooklyn Tech coach Anthony Cicolini. “Throughout the season, we’ve had a lot of close games, including a few that went into overtime. Those games have shown our guys what they need to do to execute in high-pressure moments like this one.”
The two teams came into the game tied in the Brooklyn A Central standings, but Brooklyn Tech (8–3) found an extra spark in its collective step, controlling the tempo early and maintaining possession throughout the first half.
It was a game plan the Engineers have been working on all season — determined to find an identity for a team chock-full of youth and multi-year varsity players.
“I’ve never taken as many freshman as I took this year,” Cicolini said. “And they’ve responded to any situation I put them in. This roster has become a very good balance of youth and experience”
Sophomore Jae Bratskeir got the Engineers off to a fast start — netting his sixth goal of the season in the early minutes of the first half. It set the tone of the matchup and settled some of Brooklyn Tech’s big-game nerves.
“All year, our goal has been to score first,” Brateskeir said. “It really got us going. Scoring first gave us confidence for the rest of the game, and we were able to execute and get the win.”
Aaron Kraus padded the Brooklyn Tech lead midway through the second half. The goal — the senior’s ninth of the season — was a much-needed offensive breakthrough after the Engineers failed to connect on a handful of prime chances. It also gave the team a bit of offensive breathing room down the stretch.
“We had a lot of chances to score, but we weren’t burying them,” Kraus said. “When we finally got the second goal and took the lead, it felt like we could play much more comfortably. It wasn’t perfect, but we got it done.”
Brooklyn Tech –—which beat the Dutchmen 7–1 earlier in the season — gave up one goal, but freshman goalie Elliot Leinweber was still dominant in net. He racked up nine saves and broke up several Erasmus Hall scoring chances, coming off his line and directing the Engineers’ defense until the final whistle.
Brooklyn Tech knows its work isn’t done yet — there’s still a postseason to prepare for — but the season-finale victory was a chance to show that the team has found a rhythm with its roster. It’s a trend the Engineers hope to continue throughout the playoffs.
“All the credit to goes to coach,” Bratskeir said. “[He’s given} me and this team the opportunity and learn.”