2021 Boys Soccer Preview

Somers, Byram, Yorktown Expect to Challenge on Class A Pitch

By Ray Gallagher Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Yorktown’s Peter Tinaj (9) should electrify ‘The Crop’ this fall with his scoring exploits.

The usual suspects are all lined up for a run at the Section 1 Class A boys’ soccer title this fall, including Somers, Byram Hills and Yorktown, which welcomes energized first-year Coach Zoran Milojevic to the fold. Along the way, the top bananas can expect a serious challenge from down-county foes like upstart Eastchester and a Rye program that has come a long way in recent seasons. Horace Greeley, Lakeland and Panas will also provide a staunch challenge, making the Class A title path a very difficult one to maneuver, especially given the fact that there are 30 challengers overall, including four Rockland County powers Clarkstown North, Tappan Zee, Pearl River and Nyack. Like some in the local media, many coaches we spoke with agreed that Somers is the team to beat, but the road to Lakeland — home of the sectional finals on Oct. 30 — is daunting and unpredictable, especially for those that put the cart before the horse.

Class AA schools from the Examiner area are also expected to challenge down-county favorite Mamaroneck, including 2020 large school regional finalist Carmel and down-county regional finalists White Plains, and lord knows they ooze soccer at Ossining, the 2019 Class AA champs.

There is plenty of energy and star power on the horizon, including but not limited to Somers’ Daniel D’Ippolito and Bennett Leitner; Yorktown’s George Popovic, Peter Tinaj, Mason Murphy and Jack Prybylsky; Byram Hills’ Ross Eagle and Nico Bisgaier; Greeley’s Bennett Shropshire, Alex Mancini and Pablo Perez; White Plains’ Jair Cano; Carmel’s Dwyant Suazo and Tayte Wong; Lakeland’s Jaramillo brothers (Derek and Bryan), Panas’ Kyle Arraiano and many more.

Here’s a look at what we compiled with the help of thoroughgoing coaches who complied and are hoping for a return to normal on the pitch after the COVID-plagued 2020 season was anything but.

CLASS A

The leagues have been drastically re-aligned in some cases, including top-heavy leagues like Conference II-B, which features Byram, Rye and Eastchester, and League II-C, which includes Somers, Yorktown, Mahopac, Brewster, Horace Greeley and John Jay CR. Winning either of those leagues should prepare the victor for a high seed and a deep run in the postseason. Lakeland and Panas should duke it out in I-D, along with Hen Hud.

SOMERS

Somers senior F Daniel D’Ippolito is set to pounce on Section 1 defenders this fall.

2020 Record: 8-3, lost 1-0 in quarters to eventual champ JJCR in large-school regionals

League: II-C

Coach: Brian Lanzetta

Top Returning Players: Sr. F Bennett Leitner (29 G, 18A career); Sr. F Daniel D’Ippolito (16G, 26A career); Jr. G Anthony Tucci; M Mike Micceri, F Jacques Verard, D Aedan Hopper, M Noah Saks, M Jake Riina

Key Newcomers: Jr. Liam Healy

Top Scoring Threats: D’Ippolito, Leitner

Lockdown Defenders: Hopper

Goals: After winning two of the last four sectional titles (discounting 2020’s non-sectional season), including a 2016 NYS crown, the Tuskers are in it to win it all. Recent Section 1 history suggests Somers is the team to beat and the explosive scoring prowess between D’Ippolito and Leitner will be hard to stop, much less match on a game-by-game basis. Since taking over in 2016, Lanzetta has the program at an all-time, five-year high and his troops — from the technically-skilled to the high-motored — are revving, despite falling in upset fashion to John Jay CR in last year’s regional semis. Pre-season hype aside, Somers would consider anything less than a sectional title disappointing.

Coach’s Comments: We want to raise our level of play every day and demand more individually and as a team. If we come ready to work each day, we will be a very tough team to beat come sectionals.

Week 1 Action: Leitner bagged a hat trick and Daniel D’Ippolito added a goal and a career-high five assists in a 9-0 season-opening win over North Salem. Somers added an 8-0 shutout of RCK behind three more Leitner tallies and a goal and four assists from the Dipper. 17 goals in two wins are pretty sick.

BYRAM HILLS

Byram Hills senior F Ross Eagle is among the most prolific scorers in Section 1 this season.

2020 Record: 9-0-1, defeated Walter Panas for Class B regional

League: II-B

Coach: Matty Allen (23rd year), assistant Coach Steve Skonieczny

Top Returners: Sr. LM Ross Eagle; Sr. CF Nico Bisgaier; Sr. CB Bennett Rakower; Jr. CM Jesse Goldstein; Jr. CM Lorenzo Amorosino; Sr. CM Evan Boekel

Key Newcomers: So. D Connor Boekel; So. M Zach Pero; So. D Austin Dorfman

Top Scoring Threats: Eagle and Bisgaier (combined for 20 goals in 10 games last year)

Lockdown Defenders: Luke Abbruzzese, Rakower (surrendered just three goals last year)

Goals: Win the last game they play, which has oftentimes been the sectional finals. Byram Hills has snagged seven sectional titles (including last year’s pandemic-induced Class B regional) under Allen’s leadership, plus four NYS regional crowns, which have led to four state Final 4 appearances (the last in 2014), which produced a pair of state final appearances and one state title in 2007. Goals are always high here.

Coach’s Quote: We lost two incredible women in our community, Christy Saltstein and Susan Pollack, who were both integral to our program and our history. Our goal is to always play with their spirit and honor them. Secondarily, we would like to get better every day, enjoy the experience and be playing our best soccer in late October. At Byram, our goal is to try and win the last game we play in.

Week 1 Action: In the Bobcats’ 6-2 win over Panas. Rakower put two between the pipes. Eagle, Bisgaier and Evan Boekel each added one goal and one assist. Luke Berliner also scored and Amorosino dished two assists.

YORKTOWN

2020 Record: 10-1-1, lost in semifinal West./Put. regionals against JJCR on penalties

League: Conference II-C

Coach: Zoran Milojevic

Top Returning Players: Sr. F/MF. George Popovic (11G, 9A); Sr. D/MF Mason Murphy, Sr. D/MF Jack Prybylsky

Key Newcomers/Adds: So. F/MF Nicholas Varela

Top Scoring Threat: Sr. F: Peter Tinaj

Best Lockdown Defender: Jr. Sean Horlacher

Goals: To play with “gusto”, score a lot of goals and have a winning season.

Coach’s Quote: I will quote my coaching mentor Marcelo Bielsa: “Attacking soccer is the simplest way to victory and success. I am working on excelling the program to the next level and have a more steady flow of players continuing to play at the college level. We are looking to play attractive, high-scoring soccer.

Week 1 Action: Tinaj tallied twice off assists from Popovic and Prybylski in the Huskers’ season-opening 2-1 win over visiting Eastchester. A very good sign for the Huskers.

PEEKSKILL

2020 Record: 7-6, lost to Byram Hills in regional semifinals

League: II- D

Coach: JP Iasillo

Top Returning Players: Sr. D Kevin Mendez; Sr. D Erick Guinansaca; Sr. F Alex Sapatanga; Sr. F Johnny Morocho; Sr. D Kevin Sari; Sr. D David Palomeque; Jr. Chris Loja, Sr. F Bryan Vidal

Key Newcomers/Adds: Jr. M Ernesto Zambrano; Fr. D. Daniel Farez Sierra; Jr. M Dewin Chocho; Jr. M Joe Uzhca; Jr. D Gio Pesantez; So. Zion Arevalo; Fr. M Chris Chunchi; Fr. F Chris Chalco; Jr. M Jonnathan Mendieta; Jr F Manuel Lopez

Top Scoring Threat: Sapatanga, Morocho

Best Lockdown Defender: Mendez, Guinansaca, Sari

Goals: To maintain 60% possession of the ball; attempt seven shots on goal per half; win the majority of 50/50 balls in the match. Knocking off Lakeland in the playoffs last year was the highlight of the decade for the Red Devils. Building on that win is essential for the future of the franchise.

Coach’s Quote: One team, one heart!

Week 1 Action: Sapatanga scored two goals, including the game-winner in a 4-3 season-opening victory over Sleepy Hollow. He scored his goals despite being a man down, and then two-men down due to red cards against the Red Devs.

LAKELAND

2020 Record: 6-6-1 lost to Peekskill opening round small school regional

League: Conference II-D (Panas, Hen Hud, Lourdes, Peekskill)

Coach: Tim Hourahan entering (17th season, 189-92-19)

Top Returners: Jr. wing Bryan Jaramillo(leading goal scorer as a freshman); Jr. CM Derek Jaramillo (most points as a sophomore); Jr. CM Mike Rodriguez; So. CB Connor Daly (started every game as a CM as a freshman); Sr. F David Pinkowsky; Sr. CB Bobby Hernandez; Sr. G Chris Ciraco

Key Newcomers/Adds: So. wing Anthony Abbondanza; So. F David Rodriguez; Fr. G Oban Rader

Top Scoring Threats: Hourahan believes he has four guys that can get goals on any day in a consistent way.

Lockdown Defender: Daly, Hernandez

Goals: Win a league championship, dominate home games and be playing for a sectional title at the end of the year. Getting Radar ready for a promising future between the pipes is certainly a side goal. Lakeland hasn’t been the Lakeland we know since 2016 when it put the only blemishes on then-state champion Somers’ record.

Coach’s Quote: Discipline and respect are the two most important words brought up in practice every day. The program has had a bunch of .500 seasons in a row since 2016 when we lost to Pearl River in the semifinal. Our junior, sophomore and freshman class is loaded and we have a few 8th graders who can ball as well. I also got an academy kid back who we hope lights it up. These juniors have been with the varsity since freshman year so has gone through the trials. My senior class has been doing a great job of setting the tone this summer and this preseason and are really hard-working kids who love to play soccer, which makes for a great mix. Are we ready to go knock on the doors of Yorktown and Somers? Let’s see, but we are ready to go and hope to be looking at another great run back to the 2004-2016 days where we felt we had a chance to make the finals every year. We’ll see how it goes in this new league.

Week 1 Action: Bryan Jaramillo notched five points (2G, 3A) in a 7-0 win over Brewster. Mike Rodriguez added a hat trick and Derek Jaramillo dished a pair of assists. Ciraco and Rader combined for the shutout. Lakeland also got spanked by Nyack, 6-1, which is unacceptable.

HORACE GREELEY

Greeley senior captain Alexander Mancini (L) and senior Bennett Shropshire are poised for big doings in 2021.

2020 Record: 9-5, lost to Carmel in regional semis

League: II-C

Coach: Camp Shropshire

Top Returning Players: Sr. D Alex Mancini; Sr. M Pablo Perez; Sr. M Bennett Shropshire

Key Newcomers/Adds: Sr. G Matthew Hutchings (returning from a year off)

Top Scoring Threat: Dominic Larizza, Shropshire

Best Lockdown Defender: Mancini

Goals: Sectional title, according to Coach Camp.

Coach’s Quote: “In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.” – Bob Marley; “Actions matter, words don’t.” – Coach Camp.

Week 1 Action: Spencer Katz and Shropshire each bagged a goal in a 2-1 win over Fox Lane. Fraioli got the Foxes’ lone tally.

MAHOPAC

2020 Record: 2-9-1, lost to Yorktown in 1st round of regionals

League: Conference II-C

Coach: Chris Mulholland

Top Returning Players: Sr. M Sean Vaughan (missed most of last season due to injury), Jr. M Colin Waring (1G, 2 A)

Key Newcomers: So. M Manny Perez, Jr. F Luke Healy

Top Scoring Threat: Vaughan

Best Lockdown Defender: Sr. D. Liam Kounios

Goals: Improve upon the record from last year.

Quote: The boys have come in really motivated and have bought into what I have asked them to do. They know this season is going to be very difficult, and from everything they have shown me, it looks like they are ready to step up.

Week 1 Action: The Indians put up an admirable showing in a scoreless tie against a solid Scarsdale program.

HEN HUD

Coach: Chris Cassidy

Top Returning Players: Sr. M Tyler Robinson; Sr. D David Hernandez; Sr. D John O’Connor; Sr. F Charley Corrado; Jr. M Aidan Irwin; Sr. M Alex Peske; Sr. D Wilson Minchala

Lockdown Defender: Hernandez

Goals: Improve upon last year.

Coach’s Quote: We never shy away from tough competition. We get the most out of our kids.

BREWSTER

League: Conference II-C

Coach: Jerry Frieri

Top Returning Players: Jr. M Matteo Gulla; Sr. CB Marco Gulla; Sr. M Darwin Ventura; Sr. G Louis Likens

Key Newcomers: Sr. Striker Alvaro Vides; 8th grade M Dante Gulla

Top Scoring Threat: Vides

Best Lockdown Defender: So. CB Carter Dineen

Goals: To continue on improving from year to year .

Coach’s Quote: We are working hard on combining a very solid group of talented young newcomers with our six returning starters.

CLASS AA

WHITE PLAINS

2020 Record: 7-1-3, lost Mamaroneck in large school regional final

League: I-D (Ossining, Port Chester, Fox Lane, Scarsdale B)

Coach: Mike Lambert

Top Returning Players: Jr. M Jair Cano (5G, 3A, 2GW); Jr. F Diego Martinez (1G, 3A); Sr. F/M Gael Balardi

Key Newcomers/Adds: D Fernando Rosas (was on the team last year but had very little playing time with loaded defenders but came in strong this fall)

Top Scoring Threat: Cano, Brennyn Ordonez

Best Lockdown Defender: Alejandro Vega

Goals: Repeat as league champions. The Tigers live and die for soccer, so maintaining that attitude will determine whether or not they can overcome the loss of a strong senior class. Cano will come into his own and Balardi is strong on the ball, but it will be dependent upon the rest of this mostly untested unit to get up to speed quickly.

Coach’s Quote: We graduated 10 out of 11 starters so this season we will need to gel and find our identity quickly. We’re very excited about having a young squad. We’re ready to battle it out with the rest of Section 1 well into the playoffs.

Week 1 Action: White Plains knocked off Harrison, 1-0, in double OT when Rhaymani Alexander finished a through ball from Martinez.

CARMEL

2020 Record: 10-1, lost in 2OT regional final to John Jay CR

League: Conference I-A (Rams return as league champs vs. Arlington, John Jay EF, RCK)

Coach: Vasiliy Shevelchinsky

Top Returning Players: Sr. Dwyant Suazo; Sr. Tayte Wong

Key Adds/Newcomers: Kyle Klammer

Goals: Lost 12 seniors and six starters, so the goal is to reset and be able to compete in every game while continuing to foster the notion that Carmel can be a ‘soccer school’ in addition to being a ‘football school’. 2020 was one of the best in school history, so building upon that is essential. Suazo and Wong are a dynamic duo to set those wheels in motion, but the supporting cast will determine whether or not the Rams were a one-year wonder or a program on the rise.

Coach’s Quote: This team will be focused and mentally tough.

Week1 Action: In Carmel’s 2-1 season-opening win over Suffern. Klammer got a feed from Neel Walla to snap a 1-1 tie. David Maldonado also scored for the Rams.

FOX LANE

Fox Lane’s Trevor Fraioli, who scored Foxes’ lone goal in 2-1 loss to host Greeley Saturday, hopes to turn tide in Foxes’ favor in 2021.

2020 Record: 0-10-2

League: Conference I-D

Coach: Mike Tomassi

Top Returning Players: Sr. D. Jefferson Revolorio Miranda, Sr. D Saul Sagastume, Sr. M Trevor Fraioli, Sr. M Paul Serrano, Sr. D Luis Diaz Giron

Key Newcomers/Adds: Fr. F Kenneth Mejia Lopez, Jr. M Dennis Argueta, Jr. M William Boyland

Best Lockdown Defender: Miranda

Top Scoring Threat: Lopez, Fraioli

Goals: This season we are looking to build a solid foundation for future success. We have several returning players, mixed with some young upcoming talent that should make us competitive. We are looking to improve each and every day.

Coach’s Quote: We hope to create a competitive environment that leads to building a solid program in section one. We have a lot of young talent that will have to adjust to the Varsity competition. We have great leaders on the team that will help guide our younger players in learning the Varsity game.

CLASS B

League III-A is loaded with Examiner-area teams, including Briarcliff, Pleasantville, Westlake and Valhalla, who will contend with Blind Brook and Rye Neck for supremacy. Putnam Valley has its hands full in III-D while rebuilding and challenging the likes of North Salem, Croton and Haldane for league bragging rights.

BRIARCLIFF

Westlake and Briarcliff players battle for control of the ball in Wildcats’ title triumph in Mt. Pleasant Cup finals.

2020 Record: 4-4-2 last year, lost to finalist Walter Panas in small school regional

League: League III-A

Coach: Brandon Beck

Top Returning Players: Sr. M Tyler Cho (2G, 5 A); Sr. F Nico Santucci (6G, 1A); Sr., D Kevin Callaghan; Jr., M Ethan Klar

Key Newcomers/Adds: So. D Miles Prosperino; Sr. G Guilian Greco

Top Scoring Threat: Wait and see.

Best Lockdown Defender: Sr. CB Sam Fash

Goals: To stay safe and healthy. Recognize our potential is limitless as a unit. Respect all. Fear none. Get better every single day and play our best soccer in the playoffs.

Coach’s Quote: Our team is excited to have fans back in the stands. Last year, we had a younger team and the majority of the team is back this year. The future is bright and there is strong talent on both the varsity and JV. We are looking forward to a competitive season full of a lot of fun memories together.

Week 1 Action: In the opening round of the Mount Pleasant Cup, Briarcliff beat host Valhalla, 2-0, on goals by Jack Manganello (assist from Fash 7:17 into the game) and Cho (PK 8:08 remaining). Greco made eight 8 for the clean sheet.

WESTLAKE

2020 Record: 5-6, lost to Bronxville in quarters

League: III-A

Coach: Joe Callagy

Top Returning Players: Sr. F Gianluca Ruggiero (6G, 3A); Sr. G Francesco Michilli

Key Newcomers: Jr. M Roberto Molina, So. D Dylan Pray

Top Scoring Threat: Ruggiero

Lockdown Defender: Kristian Shkreli

Week 1 Action: At Valhalla, Westlake defeated Briarcliff, 4-2, to win the coveted Mt. Pleasant Cup. Briarcliff goals by Santucci and Cho were offset by two goals from Wildcat Isaiah Ortiz and a goal and assist from Ruggiero, the tournament MVP. Martin Sunjic added another score for Westlake, who knocked off Pleasantville, 2-1, in the opening round when Ruggiero and Alex Guaman each found the back of the net.

VALHALLA

2020 Record: 5-5, beat Tuckahoe 4-0, lost to Pleasantville 1-0 OT in quarters

League: Conference III, League-D

Coach: Sandro Prosperino (16th season)

Top Returning Players: Sr. F Thomas Casale (4G, 1A); Sr. F Frank Crupi (injured all season); Jr. D David Bernardini; Jr. D Eddie LoPresti; Jr. M Vincent Reyes; Jr. D Owen Rubio-Heeney; Jr. M Oliver Tecuapetla

Key Newcomers/Adds: Sr. K Lucas Zonetti; Jr. M Dimitri Tonelli; So. M Matthew Del Gatto; So. M Luka Pandzic; So. D Lucas Signes

Top Scoring Threat: Casale, Crupi

Best Lockdown Defender: Heeney

Goals: To have a season of significance on and off the field.

Coach’s Quote: Unfortunately, life has shown us that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow and that today is the most important day of your life. I know these young men will proudly represent their school and community while wearing their Viking maroon.

PUTNAM VALLEY

2020 Record: 2-11, lost to Haldane in small school regional 1st round

League: Conference III-D (includes Croton, Putnam Valley, North Salem and Pawling)

Coach: Tim Weir

Top Returning Players: Sr. F Christian Moreno; Sr. D Sebastian Muniz; So. D Esuar Ordonez; So. D Charles Garcia; Sr. M Josh Leal; Sr. M Roberto Chimbo; So. D Evan Mounier; So. G Miguel Diaz

Key Newcomers: Fr. D Andy Ruchi; Jr. F Joe Montanero; Fr. M Chris Raimondi; Fr. F Sergio Martinez

Top Scoring Threat: Moreno, Leal

Top Lockdown Defender: Muniz, Garcia

Goals: To improve each day and be ready at the end of the season to make a run at a league and sectional title.

Coach’s Quote: This is an extremely young and inexperienced team. We only have three seniors and it will be important for these guys to lead the younger players. The players have been working very hard and will be a much better team in October than we are now.

CLASS C

HALDANE

2020 Record: lost second round to North Salem in small school region playoffs last year

League: Conference III League D (includes Croton, Putnam Valley, North Salem and Pawling)

Coach: Ahmed Dwidar (8th year, year 2 of 2nd stint at Haldane)

Top Returning Players: Sr. D Patrick DiNardo . Jr. William Sniffen

Key Newcomers/Adds: Fr. Brandt Robbins

Top Scoring Threat: Jr. Ryan Eng-Wong

Best Lockdown Defender: Sr. Stephen Robinson

Goals: Play hard every game and have fun out there while challenging for the league and sectional titles. The league title often flows through North Salem, but the Blue Devils have been a persistent thorn in the side of their foes. Dwidar is back for a second stint and he knows the ins and outs of the game. Dwidar coached the team for six years, from 2010 to 2015, winning two sectional titles and a league championship.

Coach’s Quote: We are a young team learning every day the game and trying to bring the section title back home.

Examiner-area coaches are encouraged to send game-by-game results, stats and comments to raygallaghersports@gmail.com.

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