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ARMONK — It’s impossible not to hear Sam Ganeles’ booming voice at any Byram Hills soccer game. The Bobcats’ captain and center back is one of the most vocal presences in Section 1, and he’s a big reason why they have only allowed two goals through 12 games.
Playing alongside of Ganeles is the more soft-spoken Payton Levine, and while he might not receive as much attention, he’s been an equally important component of this stout Byram defense.
“There’s nobody that I’d rather have by my side than Sammy Ganeles,” Levine said. “We’ve been a really good dynamic duo in the back and haven’t been able to give anything up yet. I definitely try to learn from him.”
With Levine and Ganeles playing in front of red-hot goalkeeper Jack Weitzman, the Bobcats shut out league rival Port Chester for the second time this season in a critical 1-0 win on Thursday.
The Rams beat Byram Hills in an overtime thriller in last year’s Class A section title game, but with Port Chester now playing in Class AA, it’s the Bobcats (11-0-1) who have the bragging rights this season.
“We always have a nice rivalry, but it’s tough that we can’t play them in the playoffs because they ended our season two years in a row,” senior David Lachs said. “It’s always fun playing them.”
It was Steven Hernandez who scored the golden goal for the Rams (8-5-1) in the Class A final, and the sophomore striker is already one of the most feared scorers in the section. But with Ganeles and James Clarke sharing the assignment, Byram was able to keep him off of the stat sheet.
“I told him, I never feel comfortable with him on the field,” Byram Hills coach Matty Allen said. “When he sat forward, we had Sam mark him. And when he came out, we had James mark him, so we had a little bit of a plan. I thought it worked pretty well. I don’t think he got many shots on goal, and that’s a tribute to my defense.”
Despite playing without injured starters Cole Tannor and Brenner London, the Bobcats were able to weather the storm while Port Chester controlled possession during the latter portion of the first half.
“We like to stay in our base and then come out of there with counter attacks,” Lachs said. “Not all of the time are you going to get as many chances as people like to see, so when we do get our chances, we have to finish them.”
Lachs took advantage of Byram’s best opportunity in the 49th minute. Ben Weinstein found him in traffic right in front of the Rams’ goal, and Lachs weaved through to create some space and finish.
“Our motto this year is havoc, so whenever we get the ball in the box, we just want to get a touch on it, or get whatever we can,” Lachs said. “The ball was able to come free, and I just shot on net.”
MORE RESULTS FROM THURSDAY
Carmine Cicchillo converted a penalty kick in the 15th minute to secure a 1-0 win for an emotionally and physically drained Westlake team over visiting Croton-Harmon Thursday.
The Wildcats (8-3-1) were only a day removed from their 2-1 double-overtime victory over Fox Lane, in which Cicchillo headed in the winner with 15 seconds remaining.
“My guys were a little tired,” Westlake coach Nick Romeo said. “Croton played us tough. You’ve got to give them credit.”
For Romeo, the wins don’t have to be pretty as long as they keep coming. In a stacked Class B, every victory means a better chance at a higher seed.
“This is a great win for us today,” Romeo said. “At this point in the season, I tell the guys all that matters is to survive and advance.”
A key component of the Wildcats’ postseason run will be senior captain Cicchillo, who has scored 14 goals.
“He’s putting the team on his back,” Romeo said. “He’s really stepped up for us.”
Best of the rest: Ari Leffell had two goals and an assist in Solomon Schechter’s 4-1 win against visiting Tuckahoe. … Greeley’s Zach Salzman had two goals and an assist in a 3-0 win at home vs. Briarcliff. … Lens Alexis had a hat trick in Ramapo’s 3-1 win at Clarkstown North. … Eilon Silver–Frankel scored twice in John Jay’s 3-0 win vs. visiting Lourdes. … Iona Prep’s Alex Kapp scored twice in the Gaels’ 5-2 loss to Fordham Prep. … Leo Gomes scored the lone goal in Rye’s 1-0 win at Hamilton. … Eilon Silver-Frankel scored twice in John Jay’s 3-0 win over visiting Lourdes. … Sebastian Lopez had a goal and an assist in Carmel’s 2-0 win over visiting Ketcham. … Ossining beat Keio 2-1. … Yorktown beat Beacon 2-1. … Blind Brook beat Rye Neck 1-0.
Photos by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News