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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”