There are a lot of important aspects of being a quality goalkeeper, and Needham’s Jake Bronstein certainly fits that mold.
The boys varsity soccer senior co-captain has recorded three shutouts this season and is a major reason the Rockets have been rather successful in the Bay State Conference. Bronstein has not only been a true leader on and off the field but is certainly committed to doing what’s necessary for his team to win.
Patch sat down recently with the Rockets goaltender, who talked about his career between the pipes prior to , as well as his ultimate goal for him and the team this season.
When did you start playing goalie? I first started playing goalie when I was about eight or nine in the youth soccer league in Needham. Teams had a rotation, meaning whoever would throw on the goalie jersey would go in the goal, but I found a coach at a young age who showed me how to play goalie and ever since, I’ve ran with it and I haven’t played another position since. I love playing goalie. I love being the leader out there and being able to see everything and being able to really work the strategy of the game as the keeper. Everything starts from the back and relies on you in goal, so that’s the part of keeper that I really like.
When you’re in net, I’ve noticed that you’re quite vocal. How important is it to communicate with your teammates? It’s definitely important. That’s half of being a goalie if not more because you can have a goalie who’s athletic, make the saves, but if you can’t really understand the game and understand the defensive markings, defensive rotations—what’s going on back there—you’re not useful [between the pipes] because the team relies on you. [My teammates] rely on me to be their eyes, so I feel like it’s my job to be vocal the whole game and not to take any breaks, especially as the senior captain. I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready at all times. If a goal is scored—regardless if it was a defensive breakdown or midfield breakdown—I’m responsible because that means I didn’t catch the breakdown and I wasn’t vocal enough to tell my players where to be.”
Being a senior co-captain, do you feel there’s extra pressure on your shoulders to help your team win games? As the senior captain, and senior goalie, both of those, you have to feel responsible for how the team fares, regardless of how I play. My team relies on me, and it’s a great responsibility, but it’s also a great honor because it means that I’m doing something right.
What team do you enjoy playing the most in the Bay State Conference or other conferences? Well, the team in the Bay State we’re probably most excited for, which already happened, was Weymouth, and it was a very tough loss because we highlighted that game on the schedule and they beat us last year and we were really looking to get revenge on our home field. But the cards didn’t fall right that game. It just didn’t go our way because we didn’t play our best game, so we’re definitely looking forward to that next Weymouth game. They came to our field and beat us, so we want to go into Weymouth and give it right back to them. Also, Newton North Wellesley and Framingham.
What’s an average game day like for you? I already have the game on my mind right when I wake up [because I’m] thinking about what I’m looking for myself and what I’m looking for as a team. Usually, I have practice on my mind because we do a lot of strategy in practice, not only working on our breakdowns from last game, but also preparing for the team we’re going to face next. I am focusing on the strategy and the things we’ve been working on in practice.
What’s your typical pregame ritual? I like to be as active and energetic, so right when I get to the field, I’m usually running and stretching before everyone gets there. Then when we get to play under the lights, we get our pump-up playlist songs, which is our soccer pregame that we’ve put a lot of work into and perfecting that playlist, but that’s what gets us pumped up when we’re allowed to blast it [at ]. I really like to get my mind in the most focused state that I can, but as a goalie, even though I’m not moving, I still want to be so active before the game, so when that time comes I can be ready to make the play.
What’s the one song that gets you extra excited for the game? It’s 'Wavin’ Flag' by K’NAAN. It’s a soccer song that I heard during the World Cup and that was the theme song for the 2010 United States Men’s Soccer Team, and when that song goes on, I just get so pumped up for soccer. That’s also the first song on our team’s playlist. The song might not be the most 'pump up' song, but that’s when I know I’m ready to go and ready to play the soccer game.
Are you considering playing soccer in college? I know you’ve expressed interest in attending the University of Michigan or University of Maryland, but any chance you’ll play collegiate soccer? I’m still looking to play soccer in college, but I’m not going to play varsity soccer. I’m pursuing the club options, which is still definitely a competitive level, and intramurals possibly because I’ve got to get my basketball game going, which I haven’t played in a while. Yet this won’t be my last year I’ll be putting on the gloves. I’ll still be doing it in college, but overall this is the year for me because I don’t think I’ll ever get to play at this level with this group of kids. Senior year, varsity soccer—really can’t ask for much more and I’m going to savior this opportunity and really want to make the most of it. I definitely have my sights set on a good run in the tournament this year, and we’re eyeing a state championship, which is the ultimate goal for everyone.