Featuring MACS Athletes: The Soccer Team 

By: Kiki Arochas Ruchama Benhamou  |  February 20, 2024

By Kiki Arochas, Staff Writer, and Ruchama Benhamou, Managing Editor 

In the YU Athletics community, the term “team” often transcends its literal meaning, evolving into a tight-knit community where players and coaches become more than just colleagues – they become family. Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams represent the true notions of friendship and reliance that form the strong bonds between players. Whether it be at practice, a game, or even within the halls of the Wilf and Beren campuses, players feel a true sense of community within the diversified population of YU. 

Nowhere is this sense of community more evident than in the Macs men’s and women’s soccer teams at Yeshiva University. Maya Aronson (SCW ‘25), a Sociology major, emphasizes, “I might not be working as hard as science majors but, I definitely put my all into everything.” Maya finds comfort in the team dynamic, stating, “I also find that it is a good break [from school] and mentally it is relieving to exercise with other people around, as we are all friends.” 

For the women’s soccer team, after a long day of rigorous dual-curriculum academics, these dedicated athletes gather for practice every evening, committing themselves, fine-tuning their skills, and supporting their teammates. Maya reflects on the team’s resilience, saying, “Honestly, we lose a lot of our games, except the non-conference ones…[sometimes] we are  just ready for the game to end, but we always play through it.” Despite facing challenges, the team perseveres, fueled by their unwavering support for one another. “I am happy to be with my friends and we are cheering each other on telling each other to keep going even when we are injured – I love it,” added Maya. Behind the scenes, the coaching staff plays a pivotal role in fostering this sense of community as well as hard work and resilience. Led by Head Coach Jose Maria Aberasturi, along with assistant coaches Marc Zharnest, Anjelica Feig, and Giselle Luow, the team benefits from a wealth of expertise and dedication.

For the men’s soccer team, practice begins at 9 PM in Votee Park, Teaneck. Once they finish warming up through jogging and stretches, players get started with passing drills for the first thirty minutes. “Passing drills have a way of synchronizing the team, amping up the chemistry,” explains defender Dov Jacobson (YC ‘24). “It establishes the key skills for the game: passing, timing movement, the weight of your passes, and taking good touches.” The next drill is a key part of the team’s play style and identity: possession drills, in which the players are divided into two teams and practice maintaining possession of the ball. “We take pride in our possession,” explains Captain Josh Ziarno (Syms ‘24). “As a bunch of Jewish kids, we don’t really have a size advantage over other teams, so we need to make sure that game in and game out we are dominating the possession.” After the first hour, the practice slowly builds to simulating real game conditions. One net stays in its usual spot while the other is brought to midfield, and the players play a miniature game to practice. This ends at around 11 PM, when the players retire for the night. 

In previous years, the program struggled to piece together successful seasons. In the past three years, however, there has been a stunning and welcome turnaround. Two seasons ago, the team had its best regular season, and made it to overtime before falling in the finals. This season, they broke their own regular season record, finishing third in the conference. Josh credits this to the team’s efforts to go international. “We started recruiting players outside of the U.S. Most of the guys went to the Macs games, and got several international players.” The current diversity of the team is remarkable, sporting players from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile, Panama, South Africa, France, England, Italy, and the Netherlands. 

The year’s successful run was particularly impressive in light of the graduation of nine players from the previous year’s team, seven of whom were starters. Josh believes this comes down to the example set by the veteran players who did return. “It speaks to the leadership of the returning players. Guys stepped up, and the new players bought into the system we ran.” Jacobson similarly credits it to the veterans, while also citing a united sense of identity among the team. “Major props to [Co-Captain] Alejandro, who is a major voice in big games. Him and the others provide great leadership, experience and maturity.” He further commented on the culture the team cultivated. “We know we can win a championship if we play our best game. Winning breeds more winning, it builds that momentum and winning culture.” 

In the Fall of 2023, the Macs women’s soccer team proudly represented our college in the Skyline Conference, with standout performances from athletes like Sophie Dubin. Sophie Dubin as well as Dov Jacobson showcased their talent and effort, with Dubin emerging as a standout defender. Starting all 11 games she played in, Dubin’s remarkable 33 saves during crucial moments underscored her pivotal role in the team’s success, while Jacobson’s contributions further solidified the team’s formidable defense.

Having played his last season as a Mac, Dov reflected on his YU soccer career as a whole and what the program means to him. “YU soccer will always be in my heart. The team highlights a diverse conglomerate of players that are at different levels religiously – some players will even bring snacks so others can make brachot. We play a beautiful game, representing Jews, as we are the only Jewish soccer NCAA team in the world. There is a ton of brotherhood on the team. I hope it can serve as an example to all of YU, showing that we can have connections with people of all backgrounds and truly reach across the aisle.”