I’ll be covering the Mamaroneck-Scarsdale game tonight at 7 p.m., but here is a preview story to get you all set for the big league showdown. Follow me on Twitter @vzmercogliano for live updates.
As Mamaroneck coach Rich Becker stood in front of his team in August, he wanted to keep his message as simple as possible.
“We spent the majority of the preseason talking about playing together; not as individuals,” he said. “We have a lot of skilled players, but we know we’re not going to go where we want in the league or in the section if we don’t play together.”
Apparently Becker made his point, because the Tigers are playing as well as any team in Section 1 right now. They’ve won six straight games to begin the season, outscoring opponents 25-2 over that span.
Mamaroneck’s leading scorer has been striker Nick Tunic, who returned to the Tigers after missing last season while playing with the U.S. Soccer Academy.
“Last year, there was a lot of pressure on (striker) Juan (Giraldo), but he was injured and didn’t play in 10 games for us,” Becker said. “Nick and Juan are working well together. We have a very balanced attack, where you can’t watch (one guy). We have a lot of people contributing.”
We’ve seen Mamaroneck start hot in the past, but the most difficult portion of the schedule is just beginning, with Scarsdale coming to town for a league showdown on Friday night at 7 p.m.
“As it is every year, our league is the toughest part of our schedule, without a doubt,” Becker said. “When you get into your league play, those are people who you know that the kids are going to get up for.”
In a league loaded with Class AA title contenders, no team from League 2-B went as far in last year’s postseason as Scarsdale. The Raiders are sitting at 3-1-2 entering play on Friday, having already dropped a league game against New Rochelle.
“So far, we are playing well on defense. We gave up only two goals in our last three games,” Scarsdale coach Joseph Cipriano said. “We are not scoring enough and I hope we are better against Mamo.”
The Raiders recently lost senior captain Niels Mariager to a pectoral muscle injury and are hoping that he can return before season’s end. Having him missing from their back line will hurt, with Cipriano acknowledging that Tigers will be their biggest challenge up to this point.
“Everyone knows that they are the team to beat,” Cipriano said. “They have it all – goaltending, defense and plenty of scoring. No question, this is a big test for us.”
Photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News