Broncos honor injured players

By MIKE SMITH

On Oct. 19, Bronxville’s boys soccer team won its homecoming game against cross-town rival Tuckahoe 3-1 to finish the regular season with a 12-3-1 record. But the story of the game wasn’t Bronxville’s offense or a spirited showing by Tuckahoe, rather it was the tribute paid to a player who was a stalwart in net for the past five years.

Injured keeper Jack Connors embraces his teammates on Oct. 19. Tuckahoe and Bronxville agreed to allow the five-year veteran to have a moment on the field despite Connors’ season-ending injury on Sept. 25.

Injured keeper Jack Connors embraces his teammates on Oct. 19. Tuckahoe and Bronxville agreed to allow the five-year veteran to have a moment on the field despite Connors’ season-ending injury on Sept. 25.

On Sept. 25, Jack Connors, one of the finest keepers in the program’s history, had his senior season ended prematurely after fracturing his elbow against Edgemont. But against the Tigers, Connors was back in net–albeit just for a few seconds at the start of the game–as Broncos fans and players gave him a rousing sendoff fitting of his accomplishments in net. Tuckahoe booted the ball deep into the Bronxville zone off the opening kickoff, allowing the injured senior to collect the ball before knocking it out-of-bounds. Play stopped as Connors left the field and the Broncos faithful gave him a round of applause. Although Connors didn’t expect to be back on the field for the Broncos this year, a similar tribute in the girls’ team’s homecoming game–in which injured captain Mary Donovan was allowed to take the field one more time–put the wheels in motion for Saturday’s moment.

“[Girls coach] Don Cupertino came up with that idea the night before to show respect for Mary, so after that, we talked it over and we decided to do the same thing,” boys coach Donny Lucas said. “Jack has been on the team for five years and we wanted to show him that same respect.”

Guy McKhann goes for a header on Oct. 19. Bronxville will find out their seeding this week. Photos/Mike Smith

Guy McKhann goes for a header on Oct. 19. Bronxville will find out their seeding this week. Photos/Mike Smith

“After the girls team did that for Mary, coach Lucas talked it over with me and my dad and I obviously wanted to do it,” Connors said. “It was a really nice experience.”

It was one made even sweeter by the Broncos’ play once the game resumed, as balls from Liam Ahern, Matt Toal and Henry Carmel all found the net to give Bronxville the win.

“It’s always nice to get a win for homecoming, and I was definitely impressed with coach Jim Sweeney and Tuckahoe,” Lucas said. “They showed a lot of class, allowing us to have that moment for Jack, but, more than that, he’s really changed the program over there. The final score didn’t reflect how close that game was.”

Heading into the playoffs‑the seeding meeting will take place on Oct. 23 after press time‑the Broncos are looking to make a deep run with sophomore Joe Pepe in net. Since taking over for Connors, Pepe has acquitted himself well thus far.

“People don’t know that he’s really a great keeper,” Connors said of Pepe. “He’s shown that he’s made some great saves against quality opposition.”

Broncos attackers make a beeline for the ball against Tuckahoe. Bronxville would top the Tigers 3-1.

Broncos attackers make a beeline for the ball against Tuckahoe. Bronxville would top the Tigers 3-1.

“The more games he plays, the better he gets,” Lucas said. “He’s facing that pressure, he’s doing a good job, and he’s only going to get better.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 

 

 

 

 

Sophomore Joe Pepe collects the ball on Oct. 19. Pepe has filled in admirably for Jack Connors and will look to lead Bronxville in the postseason.

Sophomore Joe Pepe collects the ball on Oct. 19. Pepe has filled in admirably for Jack Connors and will look to lead Bronxville in the postseason.

 
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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.