In the biggest overhaul that Section 1 has seen in quite a few years, there will be eight new boys soccer coaches debuting when the 2014 season begins next week.
Jarohan Garcia has taken over at New Rochelle, Jack Gigli at White Plains, Paul Brooks at Scarsdale, Jonathan Weinstein at Croton-Harmon, Jon Iasillo at Peekskill, Chris Pietris at Somers and Dan Smith at Westlake. With all the new faces on the sidelines, the most notable may be Keren Larkin at Carmel.
Larkin is now the second active female to coach a boys soccer team in Section 1, along with Yonkers’ Janet Ryan.
“I know these are good coaches who’ll make us a better team,” said senior striker Sebastian Lopez, referring to Larkin and new assistant Jim Cancellaro.
New Ro and White Plains moving on: With new coaches taking over at New Rochelle and White Plains, both programs are focused on moving on from last season’s incident that left White Plains midfielder Ozzie Escobedo with a broken jaw.
During a gamelast Oct. 10, New Rochelle’s Stefedson Dieudonne threw a punch at Escobedo and was arrested and charged with third-degree assault. It left both programs searching for answers, with both Garcia at New Ro and Gigli at White Plains addressing the issue with their new teams.
“We’ve instilled a completely new attitude towards the kids,” Garcia said. “To us, it’s just going to be one more game. I’ve told the kids, ‘I want you to be competitive. I want you to want it more than they do, but we’re going to be clean. Someone knocks you down, you get up, clean yourself and keep playing. You knock somebody down, you extend your hand, you pick them up and you keep playing.’ That’s it, because at the end of the day, it’s just a game.”
Where’s the offense at Spring Valley? After a breakout, 13-4 season in 2013, Spring Valley is in danger of taking a step back this year if it can’t find a way to replace 51 goals.
That’s the total Karlyl Simon, Kevin Quito and Rooben Michel scored last season, but each has since graduated. All five of the Tigers’ All-County players are now gone, leaving coach Ryan Marcus with a squad composed of mostly underclassmen. Yet, Marcus remains confident, as Spring Valley will bump down from Class AA to the less competitive Class A this year.
“I think, as young as we are, this is one of the most talented groups that I’ve had in my six seasons here,” he said. “There’s guys that really have the heart and the passion; they work hard every practice, they keep getting better and they love the game just as much as I do.”
‘We refer to them as just students’: Three years after the U.S. Academy decided that any players involved with the national feeder program cannot participate in high school sports, local teams continue to have their talent pool watered down.
Perhaps no team was hit as hard this season as Byram Hills, which coach Matty Allen said lost seven players who opted for the academy route.
“I think the players look at it as a challenge,” Allen said of his team. “It makes them angry. They want to play with their peers, but on the other hand, I think it will make us stronger. The whole idea this year is that once we step foot on the field, we’re going to play with the 25 guys we have, and the academy players can sit up in the stands. We don’t refer to them as academy players. We refer to them as just students.”
Key additions: After reaching the Class A title game last season, Pearl River will have a couple of transfers who may help make up for the losses of several key players. Forward Matt Russell joins the varsity team this year after transferring from Albertus Magnus and Craig McDonald left his U.S. Academy team to play for the Pirates.
In Westchester, Mamaroneck hopes to benefit from the arrival of Yeison Banegas, a transfer from Honduras.
Mike Zacchio and Nancy Haggerty contributed to this report