NORTH SALEM – An inch here or there and Bronxville might not be such a heartbreaking word among North Salem soccer players.
But for three straight years the Broncos have been the roadblock between the Tigers and their chance for a sectional title.
Last year proved particularly cruel as two Tigers shots hit the post and one Broncos shot found net in a 1-0 Bronxville win.
“That was very rough,” senior Shayna Levy said.
The veteran team that finished 15-3 last year worked out on Tuesday, striving for a different ending.
“It all comes down to heart. I think with 10 seniors, we’ll be raring for that win,” Levy said.
And it’s not just present-day Tigers who’d be happy to top Bronxville, according to senior Kaitlyn Murphy.
“Just beating them would mean an awful lot to the girls who used to play,” she said.
Mahopac to honor fallen player: The second day of practice for the Indians was held at Lakeview Elementary, the former high school with the view of gorgeous Lake Mahopac. Sixth-year coach Ross Fumusa had JV and varsity hopefuls run five miles. The kids, wearing no numbers, were basically anonymous to strangers. But soon everyone will wear No. 15. Jenna Nolan, who wore that number playing for the JV last season, drowned in the hamlet’s lake in June. “It’s going to be a very emotional year,” Fumusa said. “She was phenomenal. … She was a great soccer player (and) such a nice girl,” he said. Her number will appear on both JV and varsity uniforms.
ACL story has no let-up: Gail Kheyman is an Eastchester player to watch. She missed last year’s regular season after tearing her knee in lacrosse and having ACL surgery. She returned for the playoffs and made some key contributions. “I finally got back at the end into our sectional games and it was kind of hard for me but, at the end, I think I pulled it off really well and got back into the season pretty strong.”
Briarcliff’s Cassidy Carrafiello, also coming off of ACL surgery, participated fully Tuesday. “I’m excited to play with some of my senior friends again,” teammate Grace Orr said. “I haven’t played with (Carrafiello) in six months, so that’s going to be great. I’m sure she’s going to come back stronger than ever.”
Mahopac senior Georgi Gojcevic isn’t nearly as lucky. The sweeper has had two ACL surgeries in the past year and will miss the entire season. Trying to put a happy spin on things, she said, “I’ll be captain of the bench.”
Eastchester optimistic despite graduations: Prior to the first day of practice on Monday, Eastchester senior Anna Hughes couldn’t help but feel butterflies Aside from the usual jitters that come before the start of a new season, Hughes wondered how the Eagles might replace many key players who helped them reach the ’13 Class A section final.
“It’s definitely a struggle,” Hughes said Tuesday. “But as we got into it, I realized that people do want to step up and show what they’ve got.”
Gone are all three of its All-Section players from last year’s run — Monica DiDonato, Dava Fortunato and Rachel Berk.
“We definitely lost a lot of amazing players — Monica, Dava and Rachel — but everybody thinks now that because we lost such good players that we’re underdogs, but I think that only makes us stronger,” senior midfielder Gail Kheyman said. “I think now we’re competing because people think that we’re not good enough. That only fuels us.”
Comings and goings: Entering this season, there were plenty of names that were expected to be on Clarkstown South’s roster. Olivia Szeker-Cortes was one of them. However, the senior, who emerged as one of the area’s top strikers last year, hasn’t attended tryouts and won’t play this season, according to JV coach Brian Peterson, who ran Tuesday’s practice.
“I don’t know why she’s not playing,” Peterson said. “It’s a decision (her family) made and you have to live with it. You have to respect that decision.” Peterson believes Szeker-Cortes will play club ball before playing for UNC-Wilmington.
Albertus Magnus has gained a player in freshman Danielle LaRochelle, who transferred from Nyack. LaRochelle is recognized as a phenomenal point guard in basketball.
Mike Zacchio and Vincent Mercogliano contributed to this report.