Class AA final preview
No. 3 Arlington (13-5-1) vs. No. 8 New Rochelle (9-4-4)
When: Saturday at 3 p.m.
Where: Lakeland HS
Key players: Arl — Tristan Battistoni, Jr., MF; Connor Bruyn, Sr., MF; Will Kautsky, Sr., D; Dillon Petrillo, Sr., F; Peter Petrillo, Sr., F. NR— Harwan Alzuabidi, Sr., F; Stevenson Dieudonne, Sr., MF; Omar Espinoza, Jr., MF; Felipe Tobon, Jr., D; Cristian Valencia, Sr., D.
Previous meeting(s): Arlington won 1-0 on Sept. 7
Outlook: Much like the Class A final, which features defending champ Pearl River against upstart Somers, the AA final has a perennial power playing a team that’s looking to establish itself as a force in Section 1. The Admirals will be playing in their fourth final in five years, and they’ve won each of the previous three. They’ve relied on a lot of new characters this season and haven’t been quite as dominant as they were in 2015, but it’s amazing how they just keep chugging along. Arlington coach Craig Sanborn has a calming influence and a big-game reputation, and his program has a tremendous feeder system. Kautsky is the leader of the defense, undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the section, but there isn’t one overwhelming standout on offense. The Petrillo twins are probably the best finishers, but the Admirals play an unselfish style and like to try and grind teams out. The Huguenots can relate. They, too, preach possession and defense, and they don’t usually light up the scoreboard. In fact, they’ve scored just once in their last 220 minutes of play, but they only allowed one goal in that same time span and they’ve proven to be a skilled team when it comes to penalty kicks. One negative for New Ro heading into this game is that it will have to play without Omar Tejada, who received two yellow cards in the semis and is one of coach Jarohan Garcia’s best midfielders. That will test the Huguenots’ depth, but they’re confident that they can fill the gap. When these teams met early in the season — it was Arlington’s opening game and New Ro’s second — the Admirals escaped with a narrow 1-0 win. But those who saw the game claim that the Huguenots largely won the possession battle and looked like they belonged. With solid goalkeeping on both sides — senior Ryan Goldstein is expected to get the start for New Ro — I’m expecting this one to come down to the wire. If the Huguenots can win the possession battle again, I like their chances to reverse the result.
Coach speak: “The keys to beating Arlington are; 1. Sticking to the elements of our game that have been working for us; and, 2. We need to understand that we can accomplish anything as long as we play as a cohesive unit.” — New Rochelle coach Jarohan Garcia
Prediction: New Rochelle 1, Arlington 1, 2 OT (New Ro wins on penalty kicks)