It didn’t take long for Yong Sung Kim to grow adjusted to varsity soccer. As a freshman, he scored 12 goals, leading the Lehman boys soccer team to the PSAL Class A city championship game.
His Path to greatness, however, hit plenty of speed bymps.
Kim struggled the last two seasons, combining for half that initial total. First he grew cocky, then careless. The absence of his brother, Yong Jo Kim, who graduated two years ago, didn’t help matters. Kim clashed with Lehman coach Pat Straw last year over missed practices.
“He was going through the motions,” Straw said. “He wasn’t improving because he wasn’s practicing. We had big problems.”
Those issues seem to be in thepast now. Kim quit his tutoring job to rededicate himself to soccer.
“He’s going back to the way he was as a freshman,” Straw said.
Kim isn’t the only reason for Lehman’s heightened expectations. In addition to Kim, senior center midfielders Sam Aghahowa and Maximilian Berterame, Straw thinks he has three Division I caliber athletes.
Aghahowa has drawn interest from Stony Brook. Binghamton is taking a look at all three.
Outside midfielders Michele Kissi and Ardit Gocaj will be essential to the Lions attack. The biggest question mark lies in net. Aghahowa is the club’s most talented keeper, but he is too valuable in the field. So that leaves junior Mendim Gashi, who after resisting the idea, has warmed up to the notion.
The 11th-year coach is confident his team, if everyone remains eligible, can compete with the best in the city. Whether they can overtake defending Bronx A champion and semifinalist Columbus, he isn’t sure.
The early start to the season didn’t force Evander Childs into a forfeit, but that doesn’t mean Toma Gojcevic’s club has received much benefit. The Tigers had just 11 players for their season-opening loss to Bronx Science, and just a few more for a 2-1 loss to Lehman on Friday.
Gojcevic is hopeful his team can get it together by November. The coach is confident in steady midfielders Clive Brown and Cruz Walcott. Striker Johnathan Wallace has been a pleasant surprise, scoring a goal in each loss. Speedy freshman Yankuba Janneh should help as well and Aifan Morshed will be the keeper, despite lacking experience at the position.
DeWitt Clinton’s subpar 5-6-1 campaign wasn’t completely unexpected. The Governors, who were a Bronx A-best 11-0-1 the year before, were in rebuilding mode.
They aren’t anymore, that much is clear after Clinton’s 3-0 win over Truman. The roster is full of experience, featuring seven seniors and 12 juniors. Among them are seniors Adrian Regalado, one of the best playmakers in the borough, and Shamel Bess.
It took just one game for Bronx Science to equal its win total of a year ago. The Wolverines topped Evander Childs, 4-3, Wednesday afternoon. They didn’t lose much off the team that went 1-7-3 last year, graduating just five seniors. With talented sophomore Julian Gilbey leading the attack, the future looks bright.
Truman came within a few bounces of the ball from winning Bronx A. In a tie and one-goal loss to Columbus, the Mustangs arguably outplayed the Bronx’s elite last fall. They still finished 7-2-2, good enough for second place in the division, and reached the second round of the city playoffs. Coach Ricardo Furriel will have his hands full. He graduated star midfielder Fitzroy Ferguson and fullback Darien Weber.
For Walton to improve upon it’s 1-21-1 mark the last two years, the Wildcats will need production from seniors Alimu Bah and Amadou Barry. The upperclassmen combined for 10 goals last season. Bah may also split time in net with junior Nikenson Paul.