Sectionals: Semifinals previews


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No. 1 Arlington (17-0-1) vs. No. 4 John Jay-East Fishkill (14-4)
When: Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: Arlington High School
Key players: Arlington — David Verdis, Sr., F; Peter Garson, Sr., F; Joe DeRosa, Sr., GK. John Jay-EF — Nate Mansfield, Sr., F; Nikolas Angyal, Jr., MF; Ryan Metz, Jr., MF.
Outlook: In the most recent meetings between these fierce league rivals, Arlington has had JJEF’s number. The Patriots were the cream of the crop from Dutchess county in 2011 when they were upset by Greeley in the section title game, but since then, it’s been all Arlington. The Admirals won a state title last year and look poised for another run. They boast what many would consider the top defense in Section 1 to go along with a deep offensive attack that rotates a handful of scorers. They also defeated JJEF in both meetings this season and haven’t lost in 32 consecutive games dating back to last year. The Pats will give them a good fight, but it’s hard not to see Arlington playing for another title on its home turf this Saturday.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class AA final at Arlington HS on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Prediction: Arlington 2, John Jay-EF 1

salzmanNo. 2 Mamaroneck (18-0) vs. No. 14 Horace Greeley (9-5-4)
When: Wednesday, 6:15 p.m.
Where: Mamaroneck High School
Key players: Mamaroneck – Nick Tunic, Sr., F; Juan Giraldo, Jr., F; Emmet Gaffney, Sr., MF. Greeley – Zach Salzman, Sr., MF; Liam Bradley, Sr., F; Greg Ginsberg, Soph., D.
Outlook: Everyone pretty much expected Mamaroneck to get to this point, but Greeley is having a Cinderella run a la 2011. We knew the Quakers were better than your typical 14-seed, but we’re now getting to the point where you have to take them seriously as a title contender. It was only two years ago when they won a section championship as the 13th seed, so they’ve overcome the odds before. Greeley will have its toughest challenge of the season against an explosive Tigers team that seems to score at least three goals in every game. Mamaroneck has looked more beatable than it did in the early portion of the season when it was running over opponents, but still, no one has found a way to take the Tigers down. The Quakers are dealing with some injuries in the midfield, and Mamaroneck has the weapons to exploit those voids.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class AA final at Arlington HS on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Prediction: Mamaroneck 3, Greeley 2


No. 1 Byram Hills (16-1-1) vs. No. 4 Pelham (12-5-1)
When: Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: Byram Hills High School
Key players: Byram Hills – Jack Weitzman, Sr., GK; Sam Ganeles, Sr., D; David Lachs, Sr., F. Pelham – Charlie Livingstone, Sr., MF; Aidan Murray, Sr., F; Otavio Basso, Jr., D.
Outlook: Isn’t this the game that everyone has wanted to see since last year? In the preseason, I had these two teams ranked 1 and 2, respectively, in Class A, and it’s easy to see why now. Pelham dealt with some major injury issues during the regular season, but since the Pelicans have gotten relatively healthy, they’ve won nine straight. Byram has looked like the team to beat all year, putting together what was easily the most complete season of any Class A team in Section 1. Last year, they met on this very same field in the quarterfinals, with Byram walking off victorious. They also met in the regular season opener this year, with the Bobcats winning 1-0 in a game that was called at the half due to thunder. Pelham has been itching for another shot the No. 1 seed, and now they’ll get it. The Livingstone-Murray connection has been lethal, but Byram is well known for having the best defense in Class A. Last time they met, Byram coach Matty Allen stuck top defender Ganeles on Murray, so we could see that matchup once again. It will be a battle of strength vs. strength, and I can’t wait to see it.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class A final at Arlington HS on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Prediction: Byram Hills 2, Pelham 1

coughlanNo. 3 Pearl River (13-3-2) vs. No. 7 Keio (12-6)
When: Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: Pearl River High School
Key players: Pearl River – Chris Coughlan, Sr., MF; Brian Chiarello, Sr., F; Matt Neroda, Sr., D. Keio – Kensuke Hirai, Sr., MF; Shusuke Sato, Sr., F; Takahiro Asai, Sr., MF.
Outlook: After the way that Keio picked a proud Lakeland team apart in the quarters, it’s difficult to view any other team as the biggest threat to Byram for a title. The Unicorns have skill, speed and a precision passing game that is extremely difficult to defend. After the quarters, Lakeland coach Tim Hourahan called Keio “the best offense” that he’s seen in Class A this season. Pearl River is coming off of an emotional win over league rival Tappan Zee, but the Pirates have yet to beat a quality team from outside of Rockland county this season. They lost to the same Lakeland team that Keio just beat 2-0. The matchup to watch will be up the gut, where two of the best central midfielders in the section – Coughlan for PR and Hirai for Keio – will battle, but the Unicorns have an advantage with their speed on the wings and Sato up top, who is coming off of a two-goal performance against Lakeland. The Pirates are the home team, but they may also be the underdog in this one.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class A final at Arlington HS on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Prediction: Keio 3, Pearl River 1


aherne3No. 1 Bronxville (14-3-1) vs. No. 4 Briarcliff (13-4-1)
When: Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: Bronxville High School
Key players: Bronxville – Sam Aherne, Soph., F; Matt Wagner, Sr., D; Henry Carmel, Sr., F. Briarcliff – Jon Cabeca, Sr., F; Joe Ventura, Sr., MF; Kevin Louie, Sr., GK.
Outlook: One year after being shocked in the first round, the Broncos are back to where we’re used to seeing them. Bronxville has been one of the most consistent programs in Class B in the past decade and are now searching for their first section title since 2010. Briarcliff represents more of an up-and-coming program. The Bears have taken small steps forward in each of the past few seasons, and they’ve continued that trend this year with a trip to the semis. To get here, they had to knock off perennial Class B power North Salem, so confidence is high at Briarcliff right now. Each team has a skilled striker up top – Aherne for Bronxville and Cabeca for Briarcliff – but the Broncos have displayed a bit more depth. It will also be interesting to see how the Bears react to Bronxville’s large turf field, which is a far cry from the tiny grass field that Briarcliff has been using this season.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class B final at Arlington HS on Friday at 5 p.m.
Prediction: Bronxville 2, Briarcliff 1

No. 2 Irvington (13-1-4) vs. No. 3 Blind Brook (13-4-1)
When: Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: Irvington High School
Key players: Irvington – Ben Ovetsky, Sr., F; Jon Goldreich, Sr., MF; Ryan Havdala, Sr., GK. Blind Brook – Joe DiBerardino, Sr., F; Brad DeSanctis, Sr., D; Brendan Luke, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Much like the other Class B semi, we have a proven commodity in Blind Brook taking on a team that is reaching new heights this season in Irvington. The Bulldogs will have the biggest weapon on the field in Ovetsky, but the Trojans are proving to have a more balanced offensive attack than we’ve seen from them in recent years, led by DiBerardino and emerging sophomore Matt Streichler. It’s taken overtime for Blind Brook to escape the first two rounds, but the two-time defending champs keep moving on. They have a knack for finding ways to win tight games, and that experience is a distinct advantage over this dangerous Irvington team.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class B final at Arlington HS on Friday at 5 p.m.
Prediction: Blind Brook 2, Irvington 1


burtonNo. 1 Solomon Schechter (8-5) vs. No. 4 Alexander Hamilton (4-11-1)
When: Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: The Solomon Schechter School
Key players: Solomon Schechter – Ari Leffell, Jr., MF; Rafi Dodo, Sr., F; Ben Burton, Jr., GK. Hamilton – Giovanni Gutierrez, Sr., F; Capy Charles, Soph., MF; Jhoy Saca, Soph., D.
Outlook: It’s been a long wait for these Class C teams, but they’ll finally get to take the field on Wednesday after over a week of no soccer. Both of these semis have the potential to be lopsided, but if one could end up being closer than we expect, it’s this one. It might be easy to forget, but Hamilton is just two years removed from its most recent section title. The Red Raiders really struggled out of the gate, but have played much better in the latter portion of the season, including a win over Class B quarterfinalist Rye Neck a week and a half ago. They have capable scorers in Gutierrez and Charles who could make the Lions pay if they take them lightly. With all of that being said, Schechter is the reigning champ, and has to come in here as a heavy favorite.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class B final at Arlington HS on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Prediction: Schechter 3, Hamilton 2

No. 2 Haldane (9-6-1) vs. No. 3 Tuckahoe (3-13)
When: Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Where: Haldane High School
Key players: Haldane – Jay Marchese, Sr., MF; Aidan Draper, Jr., F; Peter Hoffmann, Jr., GK. Tuckahoe – MiMoon Al Zandani, MF; Jack Marovic, F; Esdras Juarez, GK.
Outlook: Tuckahoe has managed to pull off a few wins on its home field this season, but it’s very difficult to see the Tigers taking the long bus ride to Haldane and coming away with a win. The Blue Devils have relied on the combo of Marchese and Draper to provide most of their offense, and they’ve been very effective. Couple that with an emerging keeper in Hoffmann, and you have to like their chances. Haldane has waited a year for another shot at Schechter, and it’s just one win away from getting it.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class B final at Arlington HS on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Prediction: Haldane 2, Tuckahoe 0

File photos from The Journal News

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About Author

VINCENT Z. MERCOGLIANO has been with The Journal News and 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.

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