CLASS AA REGIONAL FINAL
Arlington (19-1) vs. Section 4’s Ithaca (18-0)
When: Saturday at 10 a.m.
Where: Lakeland H.S.
Key players: Arlington — Dillon Ashong, Sr., F; Vinny Colantuono, Sr., MF; Ryan Wilson, Sr., GK. Ithaca — Jared Brooks, Sr., MF; Tristan Cornell-Roberts, Sr., F; Alex Patz, Jr., MF.
Outlook: Earlier in the season when the Admirals were undefeated, they occupied the No. 1 spot in the New York state rankings. But for the last few weeks the top spot has been held by Ithaca, which will be Arlington’s opponent in Saturday’s regional final. The Little Red have yet to allow a postseason goal, but with only two teams qualifying for the Section 4 playoffs in Class AA, they’ve played only two games. The Section 1 tournament was a much more grueling endeavor for the Admirals, who haven’t allowed a goal in four playoff games, including a 1-0 win over Yorktown in the section final. Arlington goalkeeper Ryan Wilson has been showing why he’s considered one of the best in the state. He was a stone wall against Yorktown, making nine saves to preserve the shutout and give the Admirals their third title in four years. Arlington’s roster is filled with seniors who were freshmen when the team last won a state championship in 2012. Coach Craig Sanborn knows what it takes to win at this time of year and many of his players have seen it up close. Ithaca may be considered the favorite based on the rankings, but the Little Red can’t win if they can’t score. The Admirals have posted shutouts in 17 of their 20 games this season, which is a staggering statistic. The winner of this game will likely be labeled the favorite for a state title heading into next weekend.
Up next: The winner will play the Ballston (Section 2) vs. Cicero (Section 3) winner in the state semifinals at 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 14 at Middletown High.
CLASS A REGIONAL FINAL
Pearl River (18-2) vs. Section 9’s Cornwall (16-3-1)
When: Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Lakeland H.S.
Key players: Pearl River — Manuel Arango, Sr., D; Sean Coughlan, Sr., F/D; Mark Russell, Sr., MF. Cornwall — Ian Anderson, Sr., D; Paul Martini, Sr., GK; Jacob Schulman, So., MF.
Outlook: It’s been 20 years since Pearl River made an appearance in the state playoffs and the odds for the Pirates to advance to next weekend’s final four seem favorable. Their opponent, Section 9 champion Cornwall, has been riding a hot defense of late, but has not fared well against Section 1 opponents. The Dragons lost to Byram Hills at the Section 1 vs. Section 9 Challenge on Oct. 12 by a score of 2-0. They captured the Section 9 title after a penalty kick shootout with Goshen before beating Section 4 champ Vestal in the regional semis. Cornwall goalkeeper Paul Martini, whom teammates nicknamed “Paul the Wall,” has come up big in the past few weeks. And sophomore Jacob Schulman has developed into a threat on set pieces, scoring both of the Dragons’ goals against Vestal on free kicks. Pearl River appears to have a more balanced offensive attack. The Pirates have been getting contributions from all over, with the quartet of Mark Russell, Sean Coughlan, Kevin Doorley and Craig MacDonald dividing up the scoring duties pretty evenly. If Pearl River can figure out a way to beat Martini – the earlier, the better – it should be able to keep this run going.
Up next: The winner will play the Burnt Hills (Section 2) vs. Fowler (Section 3) winner in the state semifinals at 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 14 at Middletown High.
CLASS B REGIONAL FINAL
Hastings (16-2-3) vs. Section 11’s Southampton (19-0)
When: Saturday at 3 p.m.
Where: Lakeland H.S.
Key players: Hastings — Will Berritt, Sr., MF; Alex Bourgeois, So., D; John Ceballos, Sr., F. Southampton — Timmy Alejo, Jr., GK; Gianluca Santacruz, Sr., F; Jesse Scanlon, Sr., MF.
Outlook: By all accounts, the Yellow Jackets are matched up against a powerhouse. Section 11 champ Southampton is the top-ranked Class B team in the state and comes from the same section that produced last year’s Class B champ (Mattituck). The undefeated Mariners seem to be strong in all facets of the game. They broke a school-record with 91 goals so far this season and sit just two away from tying the Suffolk County record for most in a season. Much of their offense has been generated by the duo of Jesse Scanlon and Gianluca Santacruz. Scanlon leads all of Long Island with 34 goals this season and Santacruz leads in total points with 50 (22 goals and 28 assists). And the Southampton defense isn’t too shabby, either. In their last six games, the Mariners have allowed just one goal. They’ll be put to the test against a Hastings attack that has caught fire in its last two games. The Yellow Jackets broke out in the section final with a dominant 4-0 win over defending champ Rye Neck, and they continued that pace with a 3-1 win over Section 9 champ Spackenkill in the regional semis. And Hastings could have had even more after outshooting Spackenkill 18-8. The Yellow Jackets have become unpredictable because they have so many options. John Ceballos is relentless up top, Alex Bourgeois has developed into a major weapon on free kicks and their midfield features a handful of capable scorers. Southampton may be considered the favorite, but with the confidence that Hastings is playing with, a result either way wouldn’t be surprising.
Up next: The winner will play the Livonia (Section 5) vs. East Aurora (Section 6) winner in the state semifinals at 4 p.m. on Nov. 14 at Middletown High.
CLASS C REGIONAL FINAL
Solomon Schechter (11-4-2) vs. Section 9’s Webutuck (8-8-1)
When: Saturday at noon
Where: Middletown H.S.
Key players: Solomon Schechter — Noah Dunn, Jr., GK; Daniel Kohen, Sr., MF; Miles Ogihara, So., F. Webutuck — Hunter Coulthard, Sr., GK; Favel Deleon, Sr., D; Chris Reed, Sr., MF.
Outlook:The consensus is that Schechter passed a tougher test with its dramatic 1-0 win over Section 11 champ Southold on Wednesday in the regional semis, which came into that game as one of the leading contenders for a state title. Next up is Section 9 champ Webutuck, whose overall record isn’t particularly intimidating, but it could also be deceiving. The Warriors started the season 2-7 before going 6-1-1 in their last eight games. They’re coming into this game as a very hot team and should not be taken lightly. It’s been difficult to pinpoint the lead dog for Webutuck, which has been getting contributions from a variety of players. The same can be said for the Lions, but their most dangerous player is probably sophomore Miles Ogihara. He has great speed and finishing ability and has played a part in each of Schechter’s last three goals – the game-tying goal in the 71st minute of the section final, the winning goal in the section final and the winner in the final minute of the regional semis. Despite his youth, Ogihara has shown the ability to be clutch. The other X-factor for Schechter is goalkeeper Noah Dunn, who had a game to remember against Southold with 12 huge saves. A hot goalie can take you a long way at this time of year. This is the Lions’ third appearance in the state playoffs in the last four years, but they’re still looking for the program’s first-ever trip to the state final four.
Up next: The winner will play the Geneseo (Section 5) vs. Allegany-Limestone (Section 6) winner in the state semifinals at 11 a.m. on Nov. 14 at Middletown High.