No team’s been able to beat either of them this season. The battle on Thursday at 3:45 p.m. between defending Class AA state champion Arlington and host John Jay is as good as boys soccer gets in the Hudson Valley.
Arlington has a record of 5-0 and has outscored opponents 22-0. John Jay, which defeated Mahopac 1-0 in overtime on Monday, is 6-0 and has outscored its opponents 21-1.
“Their speed of play makes it much more difficult for any team to make a good decision with or without the ball,” John Jay coach Rob Seipp said of the Admirals. “Playing against Arlington is as close to playing against a college-level team as you can get.”
Arlington coach Craig Sanborn was likewise complimentary of the Patriots.
“Jay is always talented and can be explosive at any time,” Sanborn said. “Jay is well coached and have very technical players and they have overall good team speed. Any time you have that combination, it’s going to be a challenge.”
Since the teams have combined for 10 shutouts in 11 games, it’s easy to see that defense — and good defense — is a key for both squads. Seipp said John Jay had trouble possessing the ball against state powerhouses Shenendehowa and Bethlehem in a preseason scrimmage at Stringham Park.
“Playing against Arlington will tell us if we’ve made progress on keeping possession and defending together as a team since those scrimmages,” Seipp said.
Sanborn said he expected his team to be strong defensively this year with defenders Kevin Hoff, Pat Mogan, Dan Weiss and Austin Schweitzer in the back.
“Our defense has done a great job to this point,” Sanborn said Monday. “We have not been scored upon and have held our opponents to very few shots on goal. We have plenty to work on, but certainly, I like the direction that we are heading.”
A balanced offensive attack has aided Arlington in its first four games. Senior forward David Verdis has four goals over that span. The Admirals have had 10 different goal scorers.
“(David) is what I consider the heart and soul of our team,” Sanborn said. “He leads by example and is a workhorse. The guys look up to him to guide us. Eric Eastman has played very well for us at this point. He has done a terrific job of controlling the midfield and helps get our attack going. He leads the team in assists and has been playing with a lot of energy.”
Senior Brian Vigorita has led John Jay’s attack early this season. A midfielder as a sophomore and a defender as a junior, Vigorita has scored six goals in six games this season, including a hat trick in a 5-0 win over Hendrick Hudson on Sept. 18. The Patriots have had nine different goal scorers, including Nate Mansfield, who has four goals. Seipp said his midfield, led by Steven Turi and Nikolas Angyal, has been key to the team’s success.
Seipp and Sanborn are both aware of how good an Arlington-John Jay game can be; both suited up for the teams they coach as players. Sanborn graduated from Arlington in 1982 and Seipp graduated from John Jay in 1987. They both also had brothers who played in numerous Arlington-John Jay games.
“What I like about the rivalry is the long-standing tradition that has made this a rivalry,” Sanborn said. “I have been a part of this since 1980 and even before then as a young kid watching these games. The games are always intense and competitive and we both look forward to the challenges that this match brings. These matches have many highs and lows throughout each one and it is fun to see who handles the lows and fights through the negatives that occur.”
Seipp said his all-time coaching record against Arlington is 16-20-3.
“I don’t have any fond memories of playing against Arlington. I was never able to beat them as a player!” Seipp said. “As a coach, I can still remember my first match against Arlington. We were at home and won, 3-2. Playing against Coach (Gary) Montalto for years and having tremendous respect for him and then having the honor to be on the same field coaching against him was very special. I remember shaking his hand before the match and telling him it was an honor to coach against him.”