Wide Open Class A Soccer Circuit Promises Tons of Fun

Yorktown’s David Dippolito is hunted by Lakeland’s Jack Flannery in Huskers’ 2-0 win over visiting Hornets Tuesday. Ray Gallagher/Rob D’iantonio/Nick Abreau Photos

White Plains Sweeps Ossining; P’Ville, B’Cliff Tie 1-1

Examiner Sports Editor
@Directrays

Here we are just two-plus weeks into the Section 1 soccer campaign and most Class A coaches are calling for an incredible post-season tournament come mid-November, with as many as 10 teams thought to be viable contenders for the crown currently worn by Rye. Fear not, Class AA is equally loaded with challengers for OSSINING’s title belt.

As LAKELAND Coach Tim Hourahan pointed out after a 2-0 loss to host YORKTOWN, there are more teams in the running now than originally expected: 2019 Class A runner-up SOMERS is loaded and has one of the top scorers in section 1 in Bennet Leitner; Beacon is stacked with nine returning starters and maybe best keeper in section junior AJ Lucas; Pearl River returns the top two players in Rockland County; Tappan Zee is 3-1 and has another (Colm) Shalvey on the pitch; BYRAM HILLS is 4-0-1 with some strong early wins, including a 1-0 win over Greeley Saturday, and (juniors) Ross Eagle and Nico Bisgaier are tearing it up; YORKTOWN is 4-0 with a win over Somers and has yet to give up a goal this season with Dylan “D-Lo” Lopez between the pipes; Clarkstown North drops down from Class AA winning 10-plus games and just beat TZ; John Jay CR, which just beat GREELEY, has a ton of talented seniors led by Cole Ferguson; Pelham has some great early wins, including over Scarsdale; Eastchester has one of the top scorers in Mike Harrigan.

That’s 10 teams off the top of the head, not including Lakeland or Greeley, which won’t be an easy out for anyone, so the first round of the tournament should be difficult to predict once the outbrackets are over. Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases have cast a shadow of doubt on the season’s conclusion, but the playoffs could be sensational should we get there.

“I hope that this season gets to end with a knockout tournament,” Hourahan said. “It can be some really exciting stuff with probably a dozen teams that feel like if they are healthy and get a few balls to bounce their way they can make a deep run at a Class A title.”

Byram Coach Matt Allen echoed similar sentiments after his undefeated Bobcats rallied for a 1-0 OT triumph of visiting rival Horace Greeley in an epic border battle.

“Class A is probably the most loaded division in years,” Allen said. “I’ll echo what Coach Hourahan is saying and firmly believe, as evidenced by Pelham Tuesday, that the Class A schools could compete and win against the AA schools. The distance between the two classes is miniscule.”

Much of the Class A talent hails from teams in the Examiner region — Yorktown, Somers, Byram, Lakeland, Panas — but the one team on the sly is just north, Beacon. The Bulldogs may be under the radar in Westchester but they may be the top team in Dutchess this season. It’s a razor-thin difference between the top five and the top 12 when you look at Greeley taking Byram well into a second OT stanza.

“We had a good day, what I consider a positive result, but didn’t win in the scoring column,” Greeley boss Camp Shropshite said. “Pablo Perez had a great day. Also, captain Justin Miller and Owen Parsons had their best games yet.  

“Soccer is a masochist’s game,” he added. “Everything can go well, but you still might not get the “W ” because games can be decided by one score. Nevertheless, Matty’s side was incredible, too, giving it all they had. Congrats to them for finally putting one away.”  

Class AA got an unexpected jolt from CARMEL when the Rams knocked off Arlington, the top program in Section 1 over the last decade-and-change. So, do we add the Rams to the list of eligible challengers, which already included Mamaroneck (5-0), John Jay EF (4-0-1), WHITE PLAINS (3-0-2), North Rockland (3-0) and defending champ Ossining (2-3)?

Saddle up boys, it’s about to go bonkers.

In Class B, PLEASANTVILLE (3-1-1) looks like a legit challenger to front-running Bronxville (5-0) and Magnus (2-0), though Panther Coach Beau Morki believes the unit is just starting to scratch the surface.

“I feel like we have underperformed,” Morki admitted. “We have eight goals for and three against, we have played 428 minutes of football and given up only three goals, but I think our boys would agree we can do better. So, the bar is raised high for us and we like to keep it there. In both loss and tie, the opposing teams scored in the final 10 minutes of play, so I take the blame on that. I could have moved things around to seal off a victory and I didn’t. Our wins have been shutouts, but I still think we can do better.”

What matters more than anything during these tough times for student athletes is that they cherish every moment on the field (no matter what sport it is), knowing full well that COVID-19 can interrupt their season in the blink of an eye. 

“Our motto for the year, created by the players, has been: One game at a time, play like it’s your last,” Morki said. “I am very proud of the team as they have come together during these weird times and have taken responsibility and ownership for everything they are doing on and off the field. We will keep striving to be better than the last game. Finally, our success won’t be measured in wins and losses; rather the measurement will be if these 25 young men turn into extraordinary citizens for our world. I think they will!”

With attitudes like that across the board, it’s a cinch they will.

Here’s another stab at an absolutely meaningless poll, done strictly for fun. 

Examiner Area Top 10 Boys’ Soccer Poll

No.1 YORKTOWN — Coach Polchinski’s Class A Huskers (4-0) are still the rave of the section after remaining unbeaten and unscored upon through four games. The Green Machine knocked off Lakeland, 2-0, with second-half goals coming from Peter Tinaj and Tony Granito. Then, Husker G Dylan Lopez (five saves against Lakeland) chalked up his fourth shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over Panas. Junior F George Popvic had a goal and assist while Teddy Kozera and Derek Belof-Davis (his first varsity goal) also scored. Granitto dished two assists and Lopez made seven saves and D Ruslen Semenko used his head against Panas to preserve the clean sheet with one hell of a nifty play in the crease.

No.2 SOMERS — Coach Lanzetta’s Class A Tuskers (3-1) got back to work this week after the stunning loss to Yorktown (which isn’t so stunning after all) and took it to Lakeland in a 5-1 win behind Bennet Leitner (1G), Derek Marques (1G),  Daniel D’Ippolito (1G, 1A), Jake Riina (2A), Mikey Macceri (1 G),  Dylan Ingraham (1G), Alex Cabo (1A) Aedan Hopper (1A). The wealth of scorers has been impressive, including Zane Bramson’s (1G, 1A) effort in a 3-1 win over Brewster earlier in the week. Oscar Szutkowski and Leitner also tickled the twine. Hopper and D’Ippolito each provided one assist for the Tuskers who will be hard to match up with once they get rolling. 

No.3 BYRAM HILLS — Coach Allen’s Class A Bobcats (4-0-1) won a classic 1-0 game over visiting Greeley Saturday when, in the 96th minute, Owen Fleischer sent the Bobcats home happy off a Bailey Goldstein flick. “Hats off to Greeley for playing a tremendous game,” Allen said. 

No.4 WHITE PLAINS — Coach Lambert’s Class AA Tigers (3-0-2) have swept Ossining now but yielded ties to Fox Lane and Port Chester (1-2-2), so the Tigers have had some lapses, just not against Ossining, who saw Gael Balardi and Alan Meneses spot the Tigers a 2-0 halftime lead. Ruben Collazos (1A) netted the game-winner in the 60th minute. Jair Cano added an insurance marker while G Thomas Pisapia made seven saves for the Tigers. 

Eric Ramirez scored twice against Port Chester for a 2-0 halftime lead, but the defense came unglued in the second half. 

No.5 CARMEL — After a 2-0 win over Arlington, Coach Vasily Shevelchinsky’s Class AA Rams (2-0) are officially on the radar. Tayte Wong and Jack Auteria scored on the road where Arlington has dominated for moons. Carmel, which also defeated Mahopac, 3-0, has posted two shutouts behind G Joe Galeano, so this is certainly something to keep an eye on as the Rams ready for Saturday morning 9 a.m. tilt with John Jay EF, the team to beat in AA-North. A win or tie here would get some serious respect.

No.6 OSSINING — Coach Scamarone’s Class AA Pride (2-3) had a second misstep against White Plains in a 4-2 loss Friday, but began the week with a 1-0 win over Fox Lane when rangy Malcolm Phillips scored an unassisted goal in the 64th minute. Pride G John Espinoza made four saves for the shutout. Charles Della Penna made seven saves for the Foxes in a losing but solid effort. Ossining’s Jack DeAngelis and Kevin Pino scored in the loss to White Plains, but zero goals against Mamo’ is not a good sign.

No.7 MAHOPAC — Coach Mully’s Class AA Indians (1-4-1) flexed some serious muscle in a 2-2 tie with John Jay EF when Nick Biagini split the seams off through balls from Mario Bunjaj and Brian Merlino for a shocking 2-0 lead, which put the Patriots in panic mode. Jay responded with two unanswered for the tie despite solid play in net from Indian keeper Nick D’Antono (9 saves), so despite a sub-par record and a 3-0 loss to Carmel, it’s tough to bump the Indians down any further after they flexed on Jay.

No.8 PLEASANTVILLE — Coach Morki’s Class B Panthers (3-1-1) locked horns with rival Briarcliff in a 1-1 tie. Panther Arjun Singh set up Will Peacock for a 1-0 halftime lead, but B’Cliff’s Tyler Cho answered with a PK with seven minutes to play in regulation. 

No.9 HORACE GREELEY — Coach Camp’s Class A Quakers (1-3) are better than their record indicates and time and talent should bear that out, but it will be a tough road to hoe to reach the quarters and beyond. 

No.10 LAKELAND — Coach Hourahan’s Class A Hornets (1-2-1) are building for next year with a bunch of talented underclassmen.

HM PANAS — Coach Pryschlak’s Class A Panthers (0-2-1) hope to get off the schneid this week after a tough tilt with Somers when they face Lakeland and Brewster; two winnable games.

HM BRIARCLIFF — Coach Beck’s Class B Bears (2-2-1) saw G Jacob Zednik record 13 saves for the Bears in a 1-1 tie with rival P’Ville. The Bears were denied a few Academy players back from the “system” and it shows, but a Final 4 run is not out of the question.

HM HEN HUD — Sailor Gio Cardona (2G, 1A) figured in three goals in a 4-0 win over Putnam Valley. Matt Torres and Brandon Velasquez each scored once and Charley Corrado (2A) was a playmaker. G Declan Couch got the shutout, stopping three shots. More impressive, perhaps, was the Sailors’ 1-0 loss to Beacon. Couch (6 saves).

HM BREWSTER — Winless Bears hung tough with Somers in 3-1 loss Marco Gullo trimmed the deficit to 2-1.

HM PUTNAM VALLEY — PV got its first win, 3-0 over Haldane behind two goals from David Ordonez and another from Josh Leal.

 

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