By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio @RJD_Photos
After defeating Mamaroneck for the first time in school history last week, Briarcliff went out and did the same thing to Yorktown this past week, knocking off the 40-time Section 1 champion, 9-6, for the first time ever. So, what more does Class C Briarcliff — a team that knocked off Mamaroneck and Yorktown by a combined eight goals — need to do to be declared No.1 overall in Section 1 this season? The mid-season loss to Rye is the only blemish on Coach Al Meola’s Bears, but Rye also defeated Yorktown, but lost to Mamaroneck and Lakeland/Panas, so, among the upper crust, there’s a good amount of parity across the section, regardless of classification.
The hope is that someone can step up in Class A to challenge reigning champion Mamaroneck to make for an interesting post-season, but that wish is fleeting as we get the sense nobody in Class A can stop the Tigers from winning their sixth Section 1 title since 2012, unless North Rockland can man up and find its way to the Red Raiders’ first title appearance ever and then shock the world.
Class B is another story altogether as three serious challengers seemingly emerge as legit postseason contenders, including Class B mainstay Yorktown, which is two years dry of a title, Rye (the reigning Class C champ) and Lakeland/Panas (which has appeared in four of the last five Class A title games, winning three times). That’s discounting two-time reigning champion John Jay CR and Mahopac, who aren’t quite on the same tier as the top three in mid-May (that, of course could change). Essentially, the Class B postseason will feature five teams that have won 27 sectional titles since 2005: Yorktown 11, John Jay 6, Rye 5, L/P 4, Mahopac 1 (though the Indians did win four between 2000-4). It’s hard to imagine a more tradition-rich field where home field advantage will certainly be a determining factor.
Class C is Briarcliff and everybody else, and Class D is beginning to look a lot like Bronxville, unless Pleasantville can summon the powers that provided four sectional titles and one state nugget since 2015.
Previously undefeated YORKTOWN fell on hard times last week, falling against some of the toughest competition in the state, falling 9-6 against Briarcliff, 9-8 in OT at Rye and then taking a 16-4 chin-shot in Saturday’s loss to No.1 nationally-ranked Long Island powerhouse St. Anthony’s. The Huskers (6-3) rarely possessed against St. Anthony’s, putting a ton of pressure on G Adam Norris (15 saves), who was up against one of the nation’s finest players in Mike Leo (6G, 3A).
Consecutive losses have rarely dampened Yorktown’s title hopes because of the schedule they traditionally play, so Coach Sean Carney is banking on the two-straight losses as a learning experience.
“St. Anthony’s were on a different level,” Yorktown coach Sean Carney said. “We rested some guys today. We’re assessing who we are and how to beat our Class B opponents. We are very young. This is a good way to learn to battle, and we expect nothing less than a section title.”
Against Briarliff, Harry Griff (2G). Will Embury (1G, 1A) and Dylan Beck (1G,1A) each scored two points.
In the loss to Rye, Griff (3G, 1A), Beck (2G, 1A) and Brendan Regan (2G) did the bulk of the scoring, but a bad pass and a freak ending was all it took for Rye to re-establish itself as the team to beat. Owen Kovacs scored the game’s two final goals to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Huskers began the week in fancy fashion, taking out MAHOPAC, 13-4. Embury’s five points (2G, 3A) paced the Huskers, who had an 8-2 lead at the half. Beck scored twice and set up another while Spencer Norris scored twice and Jack Duncan added one goal and one assist. Mahopac’s Danny Koch, Matthew Puckhaber, Jake Degnan and John Kearney each had a goal.
Mahopac bounced back with a strong fourth quarter in a 14-4 win over host CARMEL Friday. Carmel senior captain Ryan McDonald scored three goals to let the Rams hang around for three quarters, but the youthful Indians pulled away behind a career effort from sophomore Ryan Geoghegan, who notched four goals and one assist. Freshman Danny Koch, who looks like a keeper, added three goals and two assists and junior Mike Harney had four points (2G, 2A) while slick sophomore Jake Degnan had two goals and an assist. Bullish Chris Evans went 18 for 22 at the X for Mahopac and G Brett Crecco made seven saves.
LAKELAND/PANAS had a bit of a head-scratching week. The Rebels went 3-1 with a tough 11-10 loss to Fox Lane, which was the head-scratching portion of the week. The Foxes have had a solid campaign but if the Rebels plan on challenging the likes of Yorktown and Rye in Class B, they need to knock off Class A teams like Fox Lane. The Rebels (8-3) recovered with dominating wins over Lourdes and Ossining and Pleasantville.
Lakeland/Panas finished the week with 34 goals in two games, including a 17-4 rout of OSSINING when Nick Graap scored eight points (3G, 5A). Reed Thompson tickled twine five times and set up another while Liam Burke and Tyler Nocito each went for a hat trick. Caden Hallinan had a goal and two assists for the Pride, while teammate Ian Denzer scored twice.
Lakeland/Panas put its best foot forward in a 17-6 win over Pleasantville Saturday when Thompson and Graap each put a five-spot on the Panthers. Burke added four goals and an assist while Conor Hufnagel set up three goals and scored another.
BREWSTER is finally making some noise, winning three in a row after a 17-4 defeat of Lourdes. Joe Anfuso set a career-high with six goals and connected with feeder Clay Harrison (6A) often.
BRIARCLIFF staked its claim as Section 1’s top team with an eye-opening 9-6 win over host Yorktown last Friday. It was the Bears’ first win over the Huskers in program history. The overwhelming Class C favorite Bears jumped out to a 4-1 lead and had the answer each time Yorktown went on a run.
“It meant a lot to us as a group,” Bears coach Al Meola said. “I’m not sure our guys even understand the magnitude of going to Charlie Murphy Field and winning against 40-time sectional champs. What’s more impressive is the countless texts and phone calls and emails from Yorktown alumni, who took their time to reach out and congratulate us. That is first class!”
Brandon Rispoli paced Briarcliff with three goals and an assist. Matt Waterhouse added three goals and Jack Ricciardi tallied a goal and three assists. Evan Van Camp made nine saves in net.
Briarcliff began the week by cruising past rival PLEASANTVILLE, 14-3, in the annual Saw Mill Slugfest last Tuesday. Elliot Jones (4G, 3A), Rispoli (3G, 1A), Ricciardi (2G, 2A), Nico Santucci (2G), Lucas Proctor (4A), Kyle Proctor (1G, 2A), Aidan Murnane (1G) and Van Camp (10 saves) led the way.
The Bears traveled to WESTLAKE the next day and posted another blowout in the form of a 17-3 pounding. Jones dished out five assists and had a goal. Ricciardi tallied two goals and three assists and Lucas Proctor had a hat trick. Rispoli, Josh Newman and Murnane each had two goals. Alex Kishenbaum (1G, 3A) and Santucci (1G, 2A) also contributed. Anthony DelDuca netted two goals for the Wildcats.
The 7-1 Bears have rattled off five-straight wins since a loss to Rye a few weeks ago.
BYRAM HILLS (7-2) might be Briarcliff’s top competition in Class C and the Bobcats continue to impress each week. A shorthanded Byram squad pulled off a 10-6 road win over Class A’s FOX LANE last Friday.
“This win over a really talented Fox Lane team shows the passion and bonds that we have in our program,” Byram senior Hayden Fruhling said. “Before the game we spoke about playing for the brother next to you for 48 minutes and we did just that.”
The Bobcats, who jumped out to a 7-4 halftime lead, were paced by Fruhling’s four goals. Gavin Javorsky (2G) and Matt Quintiere (1G, 2A) also chipped in. Sean Siegel had a goal and scooped up eight ground balls.
“The key offensively was to play smart and value possessions,” Fruhling said. “Knowing that we had Benny (Rakower) in net and two underclassmen on defense starting in their first varsity game, we wanted to have the ball on the offensive end as much as possible. We played selfless and moved the ball, which allowed us to get open opportunities after drawing a slide. (Ben) Weinhoff (14 of 19 face-offs) made our lives a lot easier with yet another dominant performance at the face-off X.”
Rakower, a junior, moved from midfield to make his first ever start in net and made 11 crucial saves.
“Benny was amazing in between the pipes,” Fruhling said. “Obviously, Benny’s older brother (Griffen) was a star during his time at Byram and was possibly the best goalie to ever come through the program, so he helped Benny out when we found out we may need him to step in. It was amazing to see how confident and poised Benny was in net and he made some eye-opening saves.”
Behind five goals and four assists from Fruhling, Byram cruised past HORACE GREELEY, 13-4, last Wednesday. Jake Teitelbaum (3G, 1A), Rakower (1G, 4A), Zach Pero (1G, 2A), Javorsky (1G, 1A), Weinhoff (1G, 5 GBs), Quintiere (1G, 1A), Siegel (1G, 3 GBs) and Jack Quinn (9 saves) helped stuff the stat sheet.
The Bobcats started their three-win week by defeating Harrison 12-5 on Monday behind Rakower (3G, 2A), Fruhling (2G, 1A), Teitelbaum (1G, 1A), Javorsky (2G), Michael Oronzio (2G), Siegel (1G, 6 GBs) and Quinn (10 saves).
WESTLAKE rebounded from the loss to Briarcliff with a 15-10 victory over Clarkstown North on Thursday. Andrew
Llamas (4G, 2A), Connor Cronin (4G, 1A), Tyler Howard (2G, 3A) and Anthony DelDuca (3G, 2A) paced the Wildcats.
The Wildcats improved to 4-4 with a 12-8 win over Nyack on Saturday. Matt Sardo and DelDuca each netted three goals while Llamas tallied with a goal and three assists.
PLEASANTVILLE fell to Class D favorite Bronxville 12-6 last Thursday. Ryan Challice (2G, 1A), Nick Bates (2G) and Brennan McDermott (2A) contributed for the Panthers.
The Panthers (7-5) dropped their fifth-straight game in a 17-6 loss to Lakeland/Panas on Saturday. Challice and McDermott had three goals apiece.
PUTNAM VALLEY should be eye-balling nothing less than a Final 4 appearance after the surging Tigers — winners of six-straight games — notched a 9-8 overtime win over visiting HEN HUD Saturday. PV junior A Ryan Denike set up senior M Ethan Mounier, who bagged his sixth goal of the game at 3:10 of OT. Denike, silky smooth around the net, finished with four assists while G Roger Raimo returned to make 16 saves. Hen Hud scored three goals in the fourth quarter to tie the game with 2:50 left. Rocco Capicotti notched a hat trick for the Sailors, who got two goals from Tom Popolizio and Dean Hiltsley. The 8-4 Tigers got contributions from a handful of others, including Jack Murphy (1G, 1A), Garrett Leitman (1G), and Hayden Gumbrecht (1G).
“This was a big win for us against a very good team,” PV Coach Tim Weir said. “We are playing decent lax now. Class C has really good teams, but we are taking it ground ball to ground ball, possession to possession, quarter to quarter and game to game. Our guys are working very hard knowing that they are lucky enough to have a season.”
Capicotti (6G, 1A) and Hiltsley (4G, 1A) were all over visiting Croton on senior night when the Sailors honored the memory of former Sailor David Palmisano (1993) with a 17-3 win.
FOX LANE (7-3) earned a huge 11-10 win over visiting Lakeland/Panas last Tuesday. Jack Cicchelli (3G, 3A) picked up a loose ball near midfield, jetted for the net and finished for the game-winning goal with a minute left. With the Rebels on the EMO, the Foxes were able to get one last defensive stand for the victory.
“There were outstanding efforts all over the field,” Fox Lane Coach Craig Henley said. “The goal scorers certainly make a difference but the guys hustling for ground balls and diving in front of shots are equally as responsible for our success. I’m glad they felt prepared to make those end of game plays and could take the field with some confidence to go finish it out. We’ve spoken since the offseason about what confidence does for us on game days. These kids are excited to play every game and I hope they can keep the momentum going.”
Everett Banks and Jake Wollman each tallied two goals and two assists for the Foxes. Dan Leader added two goals.
“We have the utmost respect and admiration for the Lakeland/Panas coaches and players, so coming out on top of a close game against them certainly seems to validate the hard work these players have been putting in,” Henley said. “It seems they have recently started to grasp how lucky they are to have the opportunity to play this season and are doing their best to make the most of it.”
WHITE PLAINS faced some stiff competition and started the week out with a 9-0 shutout loss to North Rockland. The Tigers then fell to Class A favorite Mamaroneck 11-2 but closed out the week with a 7-5 bounce-back win over Clarkstown North on Saturday. Ryan Ortiz sparked the attack with a game-high five goals. Nick Armogida dished out three assists while Colin Walsh and Kenny Soriano added a goal each for the Tigers, who improved to 8-4.