Class A final preview
No. 1 Pearl River (15-2-2) vs. No. 3 Somers (15-2-2)
When: Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Lakeland HS
Key players: PR — Kevin Doorley, Sr., MF; Denis Fleming, So., MF; Craig MacDonald, Sr., F; Christian Madigan, Sr., D; Timmy Valentine, Sr., D. Som — Luke Bugoni, Sr., D; Evan Keiltyka, Sr., MF; Kenny Kurtz, Sr., GK; Jack Maher, Sr., MF; Jon Riina, So., F.
Previous meeting(s): None
Outlook: One of these teams was expected to be here at the beginning of the season, and one was not. The Pirates are the defending Class A champs and will be playing in their third section final in four years, while the Tuskers didn’t even make it out of the first round last year. But with a new coach in Brian Lanzetta and a quick turnaround, Somers has morphed into a contender. An 11-0 start to the year put the Tuskers on the map, and even after some late-season hiccups, they’ve made their way through a deep field and into the championship game. The defense has been stalwart, led by Kurtz, who was outstanding in goal during Wednesday’s semifinal upset at Byram Hills. Lanzetta has his team believing that they can play with anyone, and they’ve proved it on the field. Pearl River hasn’t been quite as sound defensively, but it features a more potent attack. The Pirates boast the section’s leading goal-scorer in Doorley (24) and assist-man in MacDonald (18), which is quite the luxury for coach Damon O’Keefe. MacDonald scored the winner in overtime against Nanuet in the quarterfinals and Doorley took control with two goals and two assists against Lakeland in the semis. Others have stepped up to give PR a versatile offense, which sets up a clash of strength vs. strength for Saturday. Somers is playing with a hot a goalie and a chip on its shoulder, which makes this a dangerous opponent for the Pirates. But this will be the Tuskers first experience on the big stage, whereas many of Pearl River’s players received crucial playoff experience on its run to the state final last season. In what could the last hurrah for a group of seniors that has already accomplished so much, it would be difficult to bet against the Pirates.
Coach speak: “They are a very experienced team after their run last season. We fully expect them to be prepared. We anticipate a tough match, but it’s one game. Anything can happen.” — Somers coach Brian Lanzetta
Prediction: Pearl River 2, Somers 1