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Boys soccer: Vin's playoff predictions

All right, folks. I’ve had some time to process the Section 1 boys soccer playoff brackets for each class and I’m ready to make my annual predictions. I can guarantee some will be wrong, and if so, I encourage you to give me grief about it. That’s part of what makes this time of year so much fun.

You can watch me write out my picks on the whiteboard and explain them in the video above, but I’ve also typed them up for your reading pleasure. Think you can do better? Let me know who you like in each class.

SCHEDULE: See seeds and game times for the Section 1 playoffs

The outbracket round will be played on Wednesday, and once the first round gets under way on Thursday, things are going to move very quickly. The next two weeks will be a blur, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Class AA

Outbracket

No. 16 Spring Valley over No. 17 Clarkstown South

No. 15 Ramapo over No. 18 Mount Vernon

First round

No. 1 Mamaroneck over No. 16 Spring Valley

No. 2 Yorktown over No. 15 Ramapo

No. 3 Arlington over No. 14 White Plains

No. 13 John Jay-EF over No. 4 Suffern

No. 12 Port Chester over No. 5 Scarsdale

No. 6 Horace Greeley over No. 11 North Rockland

No. 7 Ketcham over No. 10 Ossining

No. 8 New Rochelle over No. 9 Mahopac

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Mamaroneck over No. 8 New Rochelle

No. 2 Yorktown over No. 7 Ketcham

No. 6 Horace Greeley over No. 3 Arlington

No. 12 Port Chester over No. 13 John Jay-EF

Semis

No. 1 Mamaroneck over No. 12 Port Chester

No. 6 Horace Greeley over No. 2 Yorktown

Final

No. 1 Mamaroneck over No. 6 Horace Greeley

Mamaroneck and Yorktown are shown doing battle on Sept. 12. Vin Mercogliano has the Tigers capturing the Section 1 Class AA title.

Mamaroneck and Yorktown are shown doing battle on Sept. 12. Vin Mercogliano has the Tigers capturing the Section 1 Class AA title.

Breaking it down  — There were a few different ways I could have gone with this, but I came to the conclusion in the last week or so that this is Mamaroneck’s year. The Tigers are loaded with senior talent and experience, and I like their path to the title game. They entered the season with high expectations and didn’t let it deter them, cruising to a 14-1-1 regular season. If you break down every position, it’s hard to find a glaring weakness for Mamaroneck, which explains why it’s the No. 1 team in our rankings and in the state. … I do like a couple of first-round upsets. Every year there is a 12-seed that makes some noise, and I think it could be Port Chester this year, which is why I’m picking the Rams over Scarsdale. I also like John Jay-EF over Suffern, mainly because JJ-EF beat the Mounties 4-1 already this season. … As for who will play Mamaroneck in the final, I’m taking Horace Greeley. The Quakers always seem to step up come playoff time, and the fact that they swept Yorktown this year — most recently with a 4-0 win — bodes well for their chances if that turns out to be the semifinal matchup.

Class A

Outbracket

No. 17 Nyack over No. 16 Lourdes

No. 18 John Jay over No. 15 Riverside

No. 14 Brewster over No. 19 Peekskill

No. 13 Sleepy Hollow over No. 20 Panas

No. 12 Eastchester over No. 21 Yonkers

No. 22 Pelham over No. 11 Keio 

No. 10 Gorton over No. 23 Saunders

No. 9 Beacon over No. 24 Hen Hud

No. 8 Nanuet over No. 25 Ardsley

First round

No. 1 Pearl River over No. 17 Nyack

No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 18 John Jay

No. 3 Somers over No. 14 Brewster

No. 4 Lakeland over No. 13 Sleepy Hollow

No. 5 Tappan Zee over No. 12 Eastchester

No. 6 Harrison over No. 22 Pelham

No. 7 Rye over No. 10 Gorton

No. 8 Nanuet over No. 9 Beacon

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Pearl River over No. 8 Nanuet

No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 7 Rye

No. 3 Somers over No. 6 Harrison

No. 4 Lakeland over No. 5 Tappan Zee

Semis

No. 1 Pearl River over No. 4 Lakeland

No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 3 Somers

Final

No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 1 Pearl River

Breaking it down  — This was the only class where, when I started filling in my bracket, I had no idea who I was going to take. I’ve written about the improved depth that we’re seeing in Class A this season, and I think there are a handful of teams with a legitimate shot at the crown. I let the matchups dictate my picks, and after I was done, I was left with Byram as my champ. Out of curiosity, I went back and looked at last year’s picks, and it turns out I picked the same final — Byram vs. Pearl River. I wasn’t right then, so maybe I’m just being stubborn. But I do believe that the Bobcats have all of the pieces to win their second title in three years because of an exceptional defense, an experienced goalkeeper in Matt Groll and the most dynamic player in the section in Jack Beer. … I took the boring route by choosing all home teams in the first round and quarterfinals — who wants to bet I’ll be wrong on that one? — with the toughest game to pick probably being Lakeland and Tappan Zee. I love the way the Hornets have been playing with eight straight wins and five straight shutouts, but it would difficult to pick them over Pearl River in the semis considering their recent history.

Jack Beer of Byram Hills keeps the ball away from Harrison's Ryan Homem during their game on Monday. Boys soccer beat writer Vin Mercogliano has Beer and the Bobcats winning a section title in Class A.

Jack Beer of Byram Hills keeps the ball away from Harrison’s Ryan Homem during their game on Monday. Boys soccer beat writer Vin Mercogliano has Beer and the Bobcats winning a section title in Class A.

Class B

First round

No. 1 Rye Neck (bye)

No. 2 Hastings (bye)

No. 3 Bronxville over No. 14 Westlake

No. 4 Blind Brook over No. 13 Putnam Valley

No. 5 Valhalla over No. 12 Dobbs Ferry

No. 11 Albertus Magnus over No. 6 Pleasantville 

No. 10 Edgemont over No. 7 Briarcliff

No. 8 Croton-Harmon over No. 9 Irvington

Quarterfinals

No. 1 Rye Neck over No. 8 Croton-Harmon

No. 2 Hastings over No. 10 Edgemont

No. 3 Bronxville over No. 11 Albertus Magnus

No. 5 Valhalla over No. 4 Blind Brook

Semis

No. 1 Rye Neck over No. 5 Valhalla 

No. 2 Hastings over No. 3 Bronxville

Final

No. 2 Hastings over No. 1 Rye Neck

Breaking it down  — If we’re being honest, anything other than a Hastings vs. Rye Neck rematch in the final would be somewhat of a surprise. Each team won 14 games this season, while no other Class B team has more than 10. The Yellow Jackets and the Panthers have been dominant, and from a talent standpoint, I think they have distinct advantages. Does that mean an upset is out of the question? Of course not. But I think this is the matchup that most people expect to — and want to — see. … Although it’s been a year since Rye Neck and Hastings last played, I do think the Yellow Jackets’ 4-0 win in the 2015 section final carries some weight. That game wasn’t even close, and in my opinion, Hastings is even better this year. The Jackets have added five former U.S. Academy players to their roster this season, which has elevated the play of the entire team. They’re more dangerous offensively and more skilled when it comes to possessing the ball for extended periods. I like Hastings for the repeat.

Class C

Outbracket

No. 4 Hamilton over No. 5 Tuckahoe

Semis

No. 1 North Salem over No. 4 Hamilton

No. 2 Solomon Schechter over No. 3 Haldane

Final

No. 2 Solomon Schechter over No. 1 North Salem

Breaking it down  — Even though there are only five teams in Class C, I believe it will be very competitive. Haldane, which is the 3-seed, beat North Salem twice this season, which tells me there is no runaway favorite. I’ve heard good things about North Salem, and the Tigers have picked up some quality wins in recent weeks, but I’m having trouble picking any team other than Schechter. The Lions went all the way to the state final last season and have several key players back, most notably Jonathan Rand, Miles Ogihara and goalkeeper Noah Dunn. The program has been elevated in recent years, and these players are battle-tested. That’s why I’m taking Schechter to win it again.

Twitter: @vzmercogliano

Hastings tops Blind Brook 3-0 in boys soccer action at Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook on Tuesday, October 11, 2016.

Hastings tops Blind Brook 3-0 in boys soccer action at Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook on Tuesday, October 11, 2016.

Tappan Zee defeats Byram Hills 3-1 during Westchester vs. Rockland Challenge boys soccer game at World Class Soccer Complex in Orangeburg on Sept. 5, 3016.

Tappan Zee defeats Byram Hills 3-1 during Westchester vs. Rockland Challenge boys soccer game at World Class Soccer Complex in Orangeburg on Sept. 5, 3016.

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