Several Big Section 1 Games Kick off Week 1 Action

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Greeley vs. Byram Boys’ Soccer, Greeley vs. Lakeland Field Hockey on Tap

Examiner Sports Editor@Directrays

Time has come today! With the release of this week’s Examiner today, seven months of prep sports banishment — due to the COVID-19 breakout last March — comes to a screeching halt with preparation and practices beginning last Tuesday for an October 10th start-up. Of course, the rain came down in droves last Tuesday on the first day of legal, team-initiated practices and has forced several opening-day postponements due to the lack of wiggle room regarding the number of practices a team must have to be eligible for game play.

Mahopac field hockey players and coaches practice the new normal Saturday morning.

So, when places like Somers and Lakeland decided to shut down practices on that given day, they were also forced, like many other districts, to push their season openers in boys’ and girls’ soccer and field hockey back to Oct. 12th and beyond. Those Oct. 10 cancellations will be rescheduled for another day of clustered game action later in this abbreviated season. Follow?

When the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced that football, volleyball and cheerleading will be postponed due to the complications stemming from those sports being deemed “higher risk”, the door was opened up for some athletes to give other sports a try, including some football players taking to the soccer pitch this fall.

The revised seasons for football, cheer and volleyball, which are annually played during the fall season, will be known as “Fall Sports Season II” and will be permitted to officially begin practices March 1, 2021. So some student athletes that had planned to play football or volleyball are taking advantage by suiting up in low-risk sports like soccer, cross country and girls tennis. It’s conceivable that we in Section 1 could see a four-sport star emerge should the winter season — including basketball, track and field and wrestling — go off without a hiccup. But Section 1 insiders are very worried about indoor sports taking place this winter, given the slight uptick in coronavirus cases across the country, including NYS.

Somers boys’ soccer Coach Brian Lazetta’s 2019 Section 1 Class A runner-ups, which were already stacked with a plethora of talent, have added several football players to its roster, making the 2019 Class A sectional runner-up Tuskers all the more formidable. So, yeah, give me some Somers soccer this season. Somers opens up Wednesday at Walter Panas (6 p.m.).

Chances are good that by 11 a.m. this Saturday, there will be a varsity game in or near your neighborhood as Section 1 has scheduled 20 games in that particular hour (28 originally), including some juicy matchups: Carmel field hockey will host NYS Class A runner-up Horace Greeley; Mahopac girls’ soccer, the 2019 sectional runner-up, will host Carmel; and Horace Greeley boys’ soccer will host Bryam Hills in the game of the day between two of the sections premier programs. Later Saturday, Hen Hud girls’ soccer will host Yorktown (1 p.m.), and the action will end with Byram Hills girls’ soccer hosting Ardsley (2 p.m.).

On Oct. 12, we get a shot to see what might be the two best field hockey teams in the section — if not the state — go punch for punch when reigning NYS Class B champion Lakeland hosts NYS Class A runner-up Horace Greeley at 4:30 p.m.

With everything Greeley returns this year, one could make an argument that the Quakers are the top team in the section this season. Conversely, one could argue to never bet against a Sharon Sarsen-coached Hornet club. It’ll be Greeley’s top returning players, including Lily Schoonmaker, Natalie Laskowski, Caroline Flannery, Emma Terjesen, Stephanie Kasulka and Grace Arrese challenging Hornets Emma Fon, Keirra Ettere and a banged-up Lakeland defense without its hub, Kristen O’Shea.

Winners of the last 11 Section 1 Class B titles (20 overall) and owners of 13 NYSPHSAA championships, Sarsen’s Hornets (20-1-1) have become the envy of New York State field hockey programs, but a measuring stick the Quakers are ready, willing and able to gauge themselves against.

“My top goal this year is to play field hockey and do it safely,” Greeley boss Sukhwinder Sandhu said. “Only with my top priority being safety can we have a successful season. I’m so lucky to have so many returning seniors and that we were able to have a season. I’m excited to see the success of this team.”

Same day, Briarcliff will host rival Pleasantville (at noon) on the girls’ soccer pitch in what figures to be a typical Bears/Panthers situation.

Later next week, folks might want to get on over to Ossining on Oct. 14 when the defending Section 1 Class AA champion Pride hosts league rival White Plains in a boys’ soccer doozy between two of the sections finest programs at 4:15 p.m. It’s always entertaining when these two have at it.

No matter how you slice it, it’ll be fun to see the kids back in action, so get out there and cheer them on if and when you can.

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