Niskayuna varsity soccer players Matthew and Andrew Stiles are often hard to differentiate in the classroom and on the pitch. As identical twins, the seniors have been separated by numbers — Matthew wearing No. 7 and Andrew sporting No. 10.
More important than in a varsity match for the Silver Warriors, the two were separated by two much larger numbers — their own SAT scores.
“We did six to eight practice tests,” Matthew Stiles said. “Before dinner we decided we were going to just do the reading section and then after dinner we’ll do just the math and break it up.”
The two were pushing each other to get higher scores on the practice exams each time.
“I think playing sports we like competition, but not in beating each other, but trying to push yourself to get better,” Matthew Stiles said. “If someone else does better now you know you can work that little bit harder.”
Their focus and dedication paid off — Matthew Stiles scored a 1,520 and his twin, Andrew, scored 1,600 — out of 1,600 points.
“At first when I opened [the emailed results] up and it said 1,600, I just thought that it was referring to out of 1,600 [possible score]. I had to actually open [the test] up to see what I got,” Andrew Stiles said. “Then after clicking in and making sure, oh yeah, it was actually that, I was just really excited.”
Being brothers, Matthew was skeptical for a second about his brother’s score.
“A little bit, honestly, because no one gets that, no one, let alone someone I was taking practice tests next too and he didn’t get [1,600] once,” Matthew Stiles said. “Of course, you’re shocked, but I didn’t think he didn’t deserve it or he got lucky. He worked for it.”
Their varsity soccer coach wasn’t surprised by their SAT success.
“I know how hard they work on their academics, but when they told me I was so proud,” Niskayuna varsity soccer coach Terrance Sloan said. “I always preach that you’re going to be a professional in something else someday. I hate to say you’re not going to be a professional soccer player, but you’re going to be a professional. … a doctor, something great. Those scores reflect what they are going to be when they get older.”
The two brothers said they were inseparable and have also had a good relationship their entire lives. They played other sports together before both committed to soccer as their primary sport.
When the Silver Warriors take on top-seeded Shenendehowa in the Section II Class AA semifinal at Mechanicville tonight it will be one time when the two will not be side-by-side on the pitch.
Andrew Stiles was playing with an undiagnosed hip fracture late in the season and it advanced into a hip avulsion after a hit to the same site during Niskayuna’s senior night.
Andrew Stiles is on crutches, will not have to have surgery to repair the injury, but will miss the remainder of the season, including the semifinal against Shenendehowa.
“It’s a little bit upsetting,” Andrew Stiles said. “Even in the regular season it feels like a sectional final every time we play them because they are the cream of the crop, the rival everyone strives to beat.”
His role will change from midfielder to cheerleader.
“I’m just going to be there to rally the troops, keep them all positive and make sure the team plays the best as they can,” Andrew Stiles said.
Meanwhile, his brother, Matthew, and his Silver Warrior teammates will also have him in mind on the field.
“We always do a little huddle in the middle of the field and the first thing people said [prior to Niskayuna’s quarterfinal win at Saratoga] was ‘For Andrew,’ ” Matthew Stiles said. “Everyone knows how much he would give up to be on the field.
“Everyone knows they have to work hard because some people aren’t even getting the chance to be on the field, so you can’t let them down by not giving it your all.”