By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
Kelvin Siem believes in finishing strong. The recent Absegami High School graduate led the boys soccer team to an exciting unbeaten streak at the end of the season. In the winter, Siem wrapped up his Absegami athletic career with an appearance in the Region 8 wrestling tournament.
“It was a good year for me academically and athletically. It was a very good year for me. I had fun this year,” said Siem. “Everything I achieved this year, I give credit to the coaches and my teammates. We believed in our ability an everything worked out.”
In the fall, Siem had some big individual moments on the soccer pitch, but he said he is most proud of how the Braves came together, especially in the second half of the season. Siem had high expectations for himself and the rest of the Absegami soccer team. He couldn’t wait for his senior year to start. However, the Braves started the year with two straight losses and eventually ended the first month with a 2-4 record.
The Braves could have fallen apart, as the results were not matching the standards they set before the season. Instead, Siem, who finished with 11 goals and a spot on the Cape-Atlantic League All-Stars First Team, helped the Braves rally in a big way.
October started with wins over Mainland and Vineland and a draw to perennial power St. Augustine to get back to the .500 mark. A loss to Oakcrest gave the Braves a losing record for the last time. Absegami won its final seven regular season games, ending the schedule with a 9-1-1 record in its final 11 games.
“My favorite moment of the soccer season was the team coming together. Early in the season, the fact was, we were struggling,” Siem said. “We were down on our record. We were 2-4. We came back together. It was a long season and we come back to make the playoffs and reach the quarterfinals.”
The Braves carried the momentum into the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs. Absegami opened the playoffs with a 2-1 overtime win over Triton for its eighth consecutive win. The Braves’ run came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Lacey Township in the quarterfinals. Siem scored his final goal for Absegami in the loss. The Braves’ speedy star had four game-winning goals in 2015, and finished with 25 career goals.
“I stand out mostly because of my speed, the quickness on and off the ball,” Siem explained. “I was hard on defenders giving them a lot of trouble, moving in and out.”
The same could be said about Siem on the wrestling mat. He finished his senior season with 17 wins and took third at 132 pounds in the District 32 tournament. He also picked up an opening-round win at the Region 8 tournament.
Those results are impressive when you consider Siem never stepped on a wrestling mat until he was already a freshman at Absegami. Siem was asked by the wrestling coaches to come out for the team, but he had no idea about the long and proud tradition of Absegami wrestling.
“I didn’t know until I was a sophomore. It’s a good thing and I felt proud to wrestle for a school with such a powerful (history) in wrestling,” Siem said.
Despite some tough early struggles in the first days of his career, Siem stuck with it, eventually becoming one of the top wrestlers on the squad and in the CAL.
“They said I had natural ability so I stuck with it. I liked the workout. It’s an individual sport,” Siem said. “What you put in is what you going to get out of it.”
Siem gave plenty during his Absegami career, and he and his teams are better for it.
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDgisepu
By GIUSEPPE UNGARO