Briarcliff coach Brandon Beck is about as passionate as they come, which you’ll easily pick up on by reading the preview below. The Bears had a season to be proud of in 2012, playing like one of the best teams in Class B throughout. But they were ousted in the quarterfinals, which is something that Beck and his returners seemed determined to improve upon in 2013. In my eyes, there are a handful of teams in Class B which are bringing back significant pieces, and Briarcliff is one of them. You could argue that it will be the most interesting class in Section 1 due to the depth. Will this be the year that the Bears take the next step?
Here are Beck’s words:
What was your final record last season and where did you finish in the playoffs?
Ranked No. 2 in Class B in the LoHud Power Rankings going into playoffs. Finished 12-4-1; lost in the quarterfinals on a PK to Edgemont. In five of the last seven years, we have lost in the quarterfinals of sectionals.
This year, we have decided to take a new approach in terms of scheduling and have decided to create our toughest schedule ever. We want to be battle-tested and will be challenged by the best in Class AA, A and B in order to be ready for the challenge that the sectionals have for us. We will play: Valhalla, Port Chester, Horace Greeley, @Byram Hills, @Ossining, and then our league schedule.
In addition, Briarcliff is doing construction and adding turf for 2014, so we will be playing many of our home games at SUNY Purchase. We will learn to battle adversity all season.
Last year was good, we were ranked as high as No. 5 in New York state, won eight games in a row and didn’t allow a goal for 740 minutes at one point. It was great, but we return 16 and our motto this year is, “It’s only the beginning!”
Who are your key returning players? Jon Cabeca, Senior, Forward (pictured above); Kevin Louie, Senior, GK; Michael Greenberg, Sophomore, Center Mid; Barrett Gumina, Sophomore, Center Back; Caleb Asmoah, Sophomore, Forward/Midfielder; Marco Christiano, Senior, Midfielder. Nine seniors, eight juniors, five sophomores and one freshman.
Who are the key players that you lost to graduation? Arthur Kauffman and Joe Ventura.
Are you anticipating losing any players to the U.S. Soccer Federation season? No.
What do you consider to be your team’s strengths? Experience, fitness, aggression and heart. We have many midfielders on our team that can play on both sides of the ball. We have one of the sections best finishers in Jon Cabeca, who scored over 15 goals last year. We return the majority of our team, but will need to stand up against the toughest opponents.
What are some areas of concern? Our defensive back line is completely gone from last year. We will need to create a new back four and apply some defensive tactics in the midfield to create interchange between positions, so that we have 8-9 players capable of defending and attacking at all times. Also, many teams will plan to man mark or attempt to shut down Cabeca, so the players around him are going to develop finishing capabilities.
Which formation do you anticipate using? It’s a secret!
What is your goal for your team in 2013? Repeat as league champions. Win the Mt. Pleasant Cup. Win sectionals. Be competitive in non-league games against Byram, Ossining, Port Chester, Greeley, etc.
Who is your biggest rival(s)? 1. Pleasantville. My assistant coach at eastern Savvas Kyriakidis is the new coach at Pville. This is a huge school rivalry as well! 2. Westlake. 3. Our entire league.
Up next: Carmel
Photo by Seth Harrison/The Journal News