All four Section 1 champions will have an opportunity to win regional titles in the next couple of days, which would be an impressive feat. The games will continue to get tougher as each team moves through the bracket, so to give you an idea of what to expect, here’s the information that I’ve been able to gather on their opponents.
Before the games begin, be sure to listen to our latest #lohudsoccer podcast, which features my interviews with New Ro coach Jarohan Garcia and Somers coach Brian Lanzetta.
Class AA regional final
New Rochelle (11-4-4) vs. Section 9’s Newburgh Free Academy (12-6)
When: Saturday at 3 p.m.
Where: Middletown HS
Key players: NR— Harwan Alzuabidi, Sr., F; Omar Espinoza, Jr., MF; Omar Tejeda, Sr., MF; Felipe Tobon, Jr., D; Cristian Valencia, Sr., D. NFA — Jose Alvarez, Sr., F; Steven Beleno, Sr., MF; Jakob Myrtja, Sr., GK; Jeaneste Pierre, Sr., D; Mateo Russo, Sr., MF.
Outlook: From 2008-11, Newburgh Free Academy was considered a New York powerhouse, with the high point coming when the Goldbacks won the Class AA state title in ’09. In more recent times, they’ve struggled to make it out of Section 9, but that changed with Monday’s 1-0 win over Monroe-Woodbury for the sectional championship. Now, NFA is back on the big stage, thanks in large part to the play of Russo. The senior netted the winning goal with 2:03 to play in the final and leads the team with 19 from the midfield position. NFA coach Matt Iorlano called him “a go-to guy” and “a dangerous dude,” so the Huguenots would be wise to keep a close eye on him. Alvarez is another All-Section player for the Goldbacks who they’ll try to run their offense through up top. It will be more difficult for NFA to hone in on one or two of New Ro’s players because the Huguenots are getting contributions from all over. Every game, it seems like a different guy is stepping up and chipping in a goal. In Wednesday’s regional semifinal win over Section 4 champ Ithaca, it was Alzuabidi, Leo Vargas and Oscar Espinoza. In the sectional final, it was Valencia with two goals to seal the win over defending champion Arlington. That depth and unpredictability is what has led to this newfound success for the Huguenots. And after winning their last two games by a combined score of 6-0, New Ro’s confidence is at an all-time high. The Goldbacks should be a tougher test than Ithaca, but there’s a lot to like about the way that the Huguenots are playing.
Coach speak: “At this point in the season, every team left is a balanced team. We need to make sure we stick to the elements of our game that have been working for us. 1. Live in the moment and understand that when your number gets called, you must work to the best of your potential. And 2. Play our game, especially when aspects of the game aren’t going our way.” — New Rochelle coach Jarohan Garcia
Up next: The winner will play the Long Island champion at Middletown High in the state semifinals at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 12.
Class A regional final
Somers (17-2-2) vs. Section 9’s Goshen (14-3-2)
When: Friday at noon
Where: Middletown HS
Key players: Som — Luke Bugoni, Sr., D; Evan Keiltyka, Sr., MF/D; Kenny Kurtz, Sr., GK; Jack Maher, Sr., MF; Jon Riina, So., F. Gos — Alex Alejo, Sr., MF; Michael Glick, Sr., GK; Michael Grald, Sr., D; Brendan Hughes, Sr., D; Tom Stickley, Jr., F.
Outlook: After losing to Section 9 foe Cornwall twice during the regular season, it’s probably fair to say that Goshen wasn’t expected to be here. In fact, it was Cornwall which eliminated the Gladitors in the playoffs each of the previous two years. All of that recent history made Goshen’s 1-0 overtime upset on Monday that much more shocking, and now this is the team that is standing between Somers and a trip to the state final four. I actually had a chance to see the Gladiators play at the Section 1 vs. Section 9 Challenge on Oct. 11, where they beat Valhalla 1-0 in OT. The fact that Goshen played such a close game against a Class B team that didn’t make it out of the Section 1 quarterfinals is probably a good sign for the Tuskers, but clearly the Gladiators are playing well of late. Their coach, Mike Kelly, is well-respected around the state and should be able to do some interesting things tactically. It doesn’t seem like Goshen puts up a lot of goals, and with the way the Somers’ defense has been playing (two goals allowed in five playoff games), I’m not expecting a shootout here. It was encouraging to see the Tuskers’ breakout offensively in their 3-0 regional semifinal win over Section 4 champ Vestal. Their young talent, like Riina, Lucas Fecci, Max Grell and Drew Lasher, seems to grow more comfortable with each passing round. I like Somers’ chances to move on, but first-year coach Brian Lanzetta is guarding against overconfidence.
Coach speak: “We’re looking forward to just being in the regional final. It’s an experience of a lifetime. The future can’t tell us if we’ll ever be back here. We are prepared and ready to play and give it everything that we’ve got.” — Somers coach Brian Lanzetta
Up next: The winner will play the Long Island champion at Middletown High in the state semifinals at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 12.
Class B regional final
Hastings (18-1-1) vs. Section 8’s Carle Place (10-5-2)
When: Saturday at 4 p.m.
Where: Mitchell Field in Garden City
Key players: Hs — Alex Bourgeois, Jr., D; Nate Constantine, Sr., D; Oscar Pereira, Sr., D; Andrea Russo, Sr., MF; Jackson Silverstein, Sr., F. CP — Tommy Browne, Sr., F; Marc Chiappone, So., MF; Jon Flecker, Sr., MF; Stephen Padilla, Jr., MF; Chris Ruscillo, Sr., GK.
Outlook: The Class B field in Long Island, as usual, was very competitive this season. When the dust settled, it was Carle Place advancing past Section 11 champ Center Moriches on penalty kicks to get to this point. The Frogs tackled a tough schedule with many AA and A opponents and should be one of the best teams that Hastings has seen all year. They rely heavily on Browne, who led the team with 16 goals. No one else had more than five for Carle Place, so expect Browne to receive some extra attention from Bourgeois, Pereira and Co. The Yellow Jackets’ attack is a bit more balanced, but Silverstein was the man in the regional semifinal win over Section 9 champ Fallsburg. He scored both goals, including the winner with three minutes to play, all while dealing with a deep cut in his eyebrow which would require seven stitches after the game. The senior striker has been cleared by the doctor to play on Saturday and he should have plenty of help. Pereira leads the team with 15 goals and 10 assists, while others such as Russo, Willem Bos and Diego Rodriguez are more than capable of chipping in. We’ve seen their offense firing on all cylinders earlier this season, but coach Fred Sandhop didn’t seem overly pleased with how they’ve played in the last few games. Hastings keeps finding ways to win, but Sandhop believes they’ll need to put forth a better effort to get by a team like the Frogs. Look for the Jackets to try and get back to their style of possession and using their speed on the wings.
Coach speak: “Carle Place is currently ranked fourth in Class B for New York State and Hastings is ranked third. Big deal. Rankings and talent with mean nothing for 80 minutes. Which team will show up with heart, determination and execute that near-perfect game? Long Island teams are proven workhorses. Carle Place will be smart, quick and well-coached – not to mention, we’ll be playing in their backyard.” — Hastings coach Fred Sandhop
Up next: The winner will play the winner between Ichabod Crane (Section 2) and Ogdensburg Free Academy (Section 10) at Middletown High in the state semifinals at 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 12.
Class C regional final
North Salem (13-5) vs. Section 9’s S.S. Seward (14-2-2)
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Byram Hills HS
Key players: NS — Michael Bossi, So., MF; Michael Dutt, Sr., MF; Jake Leicht, Sr., D; John Martabano, Sr., MF; Mike Selzer, Sr., F. SS — Nick Codi, Sr., MF; Jack Gardiner, Jr., F; Kris Richner, Sr., MF; Joe Villani, Sr., D; Logan Wood, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Seward is coming off of a dramatic finish and an unforgettable upset in the regional semifinals against Section 11 champ Pierson. The Spartans were on the verge of being eliminated when Gardiner equalized on a free kick with just six seconds remaining in regulation. In overtime, Wood completed the win with a header goal to send Seward to Saturday’s meeting against North Salem. It’s not too often a Section 9 team knocks off the Long Island champ, which tells me that the Tigers are in for a fight. They’ve had plenty of time to rest recently, with only one game in the nine days leading up to the regional final. If they had any nagging injuries, the recovery time will surely be beneficial. But there is also something to be said about being sharp and in rhythm. It’s a delicate balance, and we’ll see if North Salem is able to find it. The Tigers dominated possession against Haldane in the Section 1 final, out-shooting the Blue Devils 29-5, but it took almost 110 minutes for them to find the back of the net. Getting an early goal would be a huge relief this time around, but Seward seems to have some weapons of its own, led by leading-scorer Gardiner. I’m expecting this to be a very close match that could go either way.
Coach speak: “Despite dominating the play and shot count (against Haldane), we came away scoreless. Consequently, our boys were fiercely-determined. I am very proud of the effort that each of them put into the game.” — North Salem coach Ron Hendrie
Up next: The winner will play the winner between Maple Hill (Section 2) and Potsdam (Section 10) at the Middletown High in the state semifinals at 9:15 a.m. on Nov. 12.