The call up stepped up.
Freshman Julian Burden scored the winner in the 75th minute to give Riverdale a 2-1 home win over Poly Prep in Ivy League boy’s soccer last Friday. He was added to varsity from the JV team just that day.
“It felt great,” he said. “It was a hard game and it felt awesome to score that.”
Riverdale, the defending NYSAISAA champion, opened the game with some strong offensive chances. Two minutes in, sophomore Drew Dworkin scored to give the Falcons a 1–0 lead. Poly Prep, one of the Ivy League’s top programs, then saw a corner kick blocked by Riverdale senior defender Edward Hermann.
It was a back and forth game after that. Poly got a big save from goalkeeper Michael Wirtz on a shot by Dworkin in the 27th minute to help keep the Falcons up just 1-0 at the half.
Early after the break, Poly had a chance to tie it on a corner kick, but Jack Hurkman’s shot went high. The Blue Devils (2-1) finally broke through with a Ben Miles goal with about eight minutes left in the game. Riverdale quickly responded with Burden’s winning goal.
Riverdale (2-0) is coming off of a championship season and head coach Andrew Fitzgerald wants his team to stay healthy and respectful as they try to win consecutive crowns.
“We know what we did last year,” he said. “Obviously we can’t repeat that, but we have a lot of mature student athletes on our team. We not only would want to be the best team in the league but we want to be the most respected, that was one of our goals.”
After losing key seniors from last year’s squad, Riverdale is rebuilding the roster around a core group of eight returning starters. It helped to have 70 players try out for the team.
“I expect guys to step up and fill in, but bring up the young guys at the same time,” Fitzgerald said. “We are still trying to figure out who we have.”
The Falcons added 10 players with half of them being freshmen. They are also preparing for the future, knowing that they are going to lose a lot of seniors after this season. One freshman paid big dividends against Poly.
“Our JV team is strong,” Fitzgerald said. “We were able to bring up a striker and he scored the game winner. It’s pretty unheard of.”
This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times.