Sectionals: Quarterfinals previews

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CLASS AA

No. 1 Arlington (16-0-1) vs. No. 9 Ketcham (11-5)
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Arlington High School
Key players: Arlington — David Verdis, Sr., F; Peter Garson, Sr., F; Joe DeRosa, Sr., GK. Ketcham — Jordan Bishop, Jr., GK; Jake Keller, Sr., F; Kyle Ioos, Sr., D.
Outlook: The Admirals are the defending state champs and haven’t lost in 31 straight games dating back to last season. They also swept the Indians convincingly in the regular season, so it would be a shocker if they don’t defeat them for a third time this year.
Next up: The winner will play the JJEF-Mahopac winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Arlington 3, Ketcham 0

No. 2 Mamaroneck (17-0) vs. No. 10 Scarsdale (10-5-2)
When: Monday, 6 p.m.
Where: Mamaroneck High School
Key players: Mamaroneck – Nick Tunic, Sr., F; Juan Giraldo, Jr., F; Emmet Gaffney, Sr., MF. Scarsdale – Alex Gaujean, Sr., MF/D; Niels Mariager, Sr., MF; Zach Marcus, Sr., F.
Outlook: Incredibly, each of the four Class AA quarterfinals feature league opponents, meaning each of these games will be the third meeting between the respective teams. The Tigers won each of their games against the Raiders this season by a combined score of 7-1, so they are the clear favorite. But as coach Rich Becker said, it’s never easy to beat the same team three times in one year. You can expect this one to be a bit closer – especially if Scarsdale can find ways to limit the touches for the Tunic and Giraldo combo – but they’ll need to score multiple goals to have a realistic chance. Mamaroneck has gone to OT in three of its last five games, which does make the Tigers seem a bit more vulnerable, but they’ve still won every game that they’ve played.
Next up: The winner will host the Greeley-PC winner in the semifinals on Wednesday.
Prediction: Mamaroneck 3, Scarsdale 1

hernandez6No. 11 Port Chester (10-6-1) vs. No. 14 Horace Greeley (8-5-4)
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Port Chester High School
Key players: Port Chester – Steven Hernandez, Soph., F; Luis Morales, Jr., F; Alejandro Coyt, Sr., MF. Greeley – Zach Salzman, Sr., MF; Liam Bradley, Sr., F; Greg Ginsberg, Soph., D.
Outlook: In two meetings this season, the league rivals tied in the first and PC came away with a 2-1 win in the second, so look for this to be a very close game. Greeley is coming off of a thriller OT win over No. 3 Yorktown on Monday, but it took its toll. The Quakers lost two key starters  to injury in that game – Adam Siff and Zander Levitz – and they’ll both be out for this one. Meanwhile, the Rams are healthy and are coming off of what coach John Cafaldo said might have been their best performance of the year in a 4-1 win over No. 6 Spring Valley. The key is that they’ve been receiving contributions from others besides Hernandez – particularly Morales. They seem to have the advantage playing at home, but this Greeley team is a scrappy bunch that shouldn’t be counted out.
Next up: The winner will play at the Scarsdale-Mamaroneck winner in the semifinals on Wednesday.
Prediction: Port Chester 2, Greeley 1

No. 4 John Jay-East Fishkill (13-4) vs. No. 5 Mahopac (11-4-2)
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: John Jay-EF High School
Key players: John Jay-EF — Nate Mansfield, Sr., F; Nikolas Angyal, Jr., MF; Ryan Metz, Jr., MF. Mahopac — Mike Bernardi, Jr., GK; Nick Schiera, Sr., MF; Conor Butler, Sr., F.
Outlook: It’s taken overtime to decide each of the regular season meetings between JJEF and Mahopac, with the Patriots coming out on top in both contests. These teams know each other very well, so it will be difficult for either one to pull off any surprises. JJEF has a potent offensive attack with a handful of players who can push up and score, while the Indians’ strength is in the back. The Patriots will probably possess the ball more, with Mahopac looking to score on some counters. The X-factor is Bernardi, who has established himself as one of the top keepers in the section this season. We’ve seen goalies get hot in the past and carry their teams in the playoffs.
Next up: The winner will play the Ketcham-Arlington winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: John Jay-EF 1, Mahopac 0

CLASS A

No. 1 Byram Hills (15-1-1) vs. No. 9 Eastchester (11-7)
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Byram Hills High School
Key players: Byram Hills – Jack Weitzman, Sr., GK; Sam Ganeles, Sr., D; David Lachs, Sr., F. Eastchester – Joe Blasetti, Jr., GK; Austin Capasso, Jr., F; Fulvio Salza, Sr., MF.
Outlook: If we were coming up with point spreads for all of these quarterfinals, Byram might be the heaviest favorite in any class. Eastchester is a tough, physical team that has made big strides this season, but the Bobcats have been one of the most consistent teams in the section for years. They are close to unbeatable on their home field, where they haven’t lost in over a year. Byram uses every inch of its big turf field, while the Eagles are used to playing on a smaller grass field, so that’s a big advantage for the Bobcats. Their defense has been excellent yet again this season – they’ve allowed just six goals – so scoring will be tough for Eastchester. And on the other end, Lachs has really been heating up as goal-scorer.
Next up: The winner will play the Edgemont-Pelham winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Byram 3, Eastchester 0

No. 2 Lakeland (14-3) vs. No. 7 Keio (11-6)
When: Monday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Lakeland High School
Key players: Lakeland – Johnny Denis, Soph., F/MF; Devin Flanagan, Jr., F; Jon Pinto, Sr., D. Keio – Kensuke Hirai, Sr., MF; Shusuke Sato, Sr., F; Takahiro Asai, Sr., MF.
Outlook: As I wrote when my predictions came out, this is one of the toughest games to pick in the entire postseason, pitting the No. 2 team in the LoHud Class A rankings against No. 3. Keio is the more explosive team and has regularly put up three or more goals, so this will be a big test for the Lakeland D. The Hornets have been using backup keeper Javier Gonzalez for most of the season after starter Reggis Mora went down, and he has really stepped up. The Unicorns aren’t shy about playing direct and pounding you with guys like Hirai and Sato, and some might question if Lakeland has the firepower to keep up. But with all of that being said, this team has a recent history of stingy defense in big games that is impossible to ignore. Pinto was around when the Hornets upset PC in the 2011 section final, and he’s one of the best marking defenders in the section, so it will be interesting to see how he is employed. Keio has had occasional issues in the back, so I do think that Lakeland will be able to score. In my opinion, this may be the game of the day.
Next up: The winner will play the TZ-Pearl River winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Lakeland 2, Keio 1

No. 3 Pearl River (12-3-2) vs. No. 6 Tappan Zee (12-3-2)
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Pearl River High School
Key players: Pearl River – Chris Coughlan, Sr., MF; Brian Chiarello, Sr., F; Matt Neroda, Sr., D. Tappan Zee – Juan Umana, Sr., GK; Devin Doran, Sr., D; Marco Batista, Jr., F.
Outlook: Twice these league rivals met this season, and still neither team has a win against the other. Two games and two ties means that we’re in for a battle with everything on the line. Pearl River seems to have more weapons in the field, and has certainly scored at a higher rate this season. In each game against TZ, the Pirates have controlled possession, but the X-factor has been Umana. Many regard him as the best keeper in Rockland county, and he’s had a brilliant senior season with nine shutouts. It’s difficult to deny that PR is the more complete team, but a hot goalkeeper can make all of the difference. That makes this one of the most intriguing games in this round.
Next up: The winner will play the Keio-Lakeland winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Pearl River 1, Tappan Zee 0

pelNo. 4 Pelham (11-5-1) vs. No. 5 Edgemont (12-4)
When: Monday, 6 p.m.
Where: Glover Field in Pelham
Key players: Pelham – Charlie Livingstone, Sr., MF; Aidan Murray, Sr., F; Otavio Basso, Jr., D. Edgemont – Tom Young, Sr., MF; Javier Casado, Sr., F; David Villalobos, Sr., MF.
Outlook: In yet another quarterfinal matchup featuring two league rivals, we have two teams that have been heading in opposite directions. Edgemont won the first meeting, but finished the regular season by losing three of its final four games – or else this would have likely been a home game for the Panthers. Pelham, on the other hand, has won eight straight, including a 3-1 win at Edgemont on Oct. 15. The Pelicans are finally healthy (for the most part), and we’re seeing now why they were so highly regarded in the preseason. Both teams have tremendous playmakers in the midfield – Livingstone for Pelham and Young for Edgemont – but having Murray back has made a huge difference for the Pelicans up top. Confidence and momentum is certainly on Pelham’s side.
Next up: The winner will play the Eastchester-Byram winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Pelham 3, Edgemont 2

CLASS B

No. 1 Bronxville (12-3-2) vs. No. 9 Woodlands (13-4)  
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Bronxville High School
Key players: Bronxville – Sam Aherne, Soph., F; Matt Wagner, Sr., D; Henry Carmel, Sr., F. Woodlands – Prince Kermue, Jr., F; Marquis Berry, Sr., MF; Kevin Granados, Sr., F.
Outlook: Bronxville really turned it on with three second-half goals in the first round against Pleasantville, and the Broncos are hoping that momentum carries over. Woodlands is a dangerous team because it possesses a trait that most Class B teams will fail to match – lots and lots of speed. The athletic Falcons can really apply some pressure on the wings, and Kermue has developed in a very dependable finisher. Bronxville has been going with a sophomore in goal in Joe Pepe since senior Jack Connors went down, and he should be tested in this one. Ultimately, the Broncos are very difficult to beat on their home field, and I don’t doubt that they’ll be able to put up some goals of their own in this one. This should be a very entertaining game to watch.
Next up: The winner will play the North Salem-Briarcliff winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Bronxville 2, Woodlands 1

No. 2 Irvington (12-1-4) vs. No. 10 Rye Neck (8-6-3)
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Irvington High School
Key players: Irvington – Ben Ovetsky, Sr., F; Jon Goldreich, Sr., MF; Brendan Molloy, Sr., GK. Rye Neck – Takuno Nishimura, Jr., F; Cameron Shaw, Sr., MF; Angelo Spedafino, Sr., GK.
Outlook: When these teams played in Irvington tourney this season, there was still no winner determined after 100 minutes of soccer. Rye Neck prevailed on PKs, and the Panthers have proven that they can compete with pretty much any team in the class. The biggest thing to take out of that game was that they were able to effectively defend Ovetsky, who is one of the top scorers in Class B. That should give Rye Neck a lot of confidence coming into this one, but the Irvington offense has really been clicking recently. The Bulldogs put up four goals against Albertus Magnus in the first round and have a senior-laden group has only lost once all season.
Next up: The winner will play the Valhalla-Blind Brook winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Irvington 2, Rye Neck 1

bbNo. 3 Blind Brook (12-4-1) vs. No. 6 Valhalla (12-3-2)  
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Blind Brook High School
Key players: Blind Brook – Joe DiBerardino, Sr., F; Brad DeSanctis, Sr., D; Brendan Luke, Sr., MF. Valhalla – Kaio DaSilva, Soph., D; Jose Robinson, Sr., F; Joel Viveros, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Can you believe it? It’s another quarterfinal featuring league opponents! That makes for a total of seven in this round, and this is yet another juicy one. Currently, Blind Brook is ranked No. 1 Class B, while Valhalla comes in at No. 3, so the winner here will be the favorite to reach the section final. They tied in their first meeting, while the Trojans came out on top in their second while playing at home. Blind Brook controlled possession in that one and the Vikings had a tough time stopping DiBerardino, so he’s probably earned himself some extra attention from the Valhalla defense in this one. Shockingly, it took OT for Blind Brook to make it out of the first round against Putnam Valley, which could be looked at as either a bad omen or a wakeup call. I look for the two-time defending champs to show some fight here.
Next up: The winner will play the Rye Neck-Irvington winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: Blind Brook 2, Valhalla 1

No. 4 Briarcliff (12-4-1) vs. No. 5 North Salem (13-4)
When: Monday, 3 p.m.
Where: Briarcliff High School
Key players: Briarcliff – Jon Cabeca, Sr., F; Joe Ventura, Sr., MF; Kevin Louie, Sr., GK. North Salem – Connor Murphy, Sr., F; Brett Lowrie, Sr., F; Miguel Tunas, Jr., MF.
Outlook: With so many games featuring teams that have already played each other in this round, this one is kind of the great unknown. Briarcliff and North Salem have just one common opponent this season – Croton-Harmon – so how they’ll matchup is very much up in the air. Both have proven weapons up top – Cabeca for the Bears and Murphy for the Tigers – and I wouldn’t be shocked to see both guys get man-marked. Murphy has been a on tear of late, scoring a whopping five goals in the first round. The one advantage that you might give North Salem is its recent history in the playoffs. The Tigers reached the section final last season and the semis in the previous year, while Briarcliff has made earlier exits in each season. North Salem knows how to get it done, but the Bears are a senior-laden bunch that could be ready to take the next step.
Next up: The winner will play the Woodlands-Bronxville winner in the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday.
Prediction: North Salem 3, Briarcliff 2

File photos from The Journal News

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About Author

VINCENT Z. MERCOGLIANO has been with The Journal News and LoHud.com since March 2010. He graduated from New Rochelle High School in 2005 and from Hofstra University in 2009 with a degree in broadcast journalism. He currently covers boys soccer, wrestling and baseball, while assisting with LoHud's Yankees coverage.

1 Comment

  1. Where is this game being played I thought the Briarcliff High School field was under construction?