No. 1 Arlington (18-0-1) vs. No. 14 Horace Greeley (10-5-4)
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Where: Arlington High School
Key players: Arlington — David Verdis, Sr., F; Peter Garson, Sr., F; Joe DeRosa, Sr., GK; Pat Mogan, Sr., D; Kevin Hoff, Sr., D. Greeley – Zach Salzman, Sr., MF; Liam Bradley, Sr., F/D; Adam Siff, Jr., MF; Mike Adler, Jr., MF; Jason Meshberg, Jr., D.
Outlook: After Arlington and Mamaroneck each finished without a loss and earned the top two seeds, it was widely anticipated that they would meet in this game, but we really shouldn’t be that surprised that it’s Greeley taking Mamo’s place. After all, we now have the past two AA section champs back in the title game, and the Quakers are in familiar territory. They won a title in 2011 as the 13-seed, and now have chance to pull off another Cinderella story as the 14-seed. Greeley has completely embraced the underdog role and is playing a dangerous high pressure, team-oriented style of soccer with a big chip on its shoulder. Their regular season schedule was brutal, but it prepared the Quakers for these types of games, and goes to show you just how deep AA was this season. As our buddy Phil Strum from the Poughkeepsie Journal pointed out, this will be a fascinating coaching matchup. Arlington coach Craig Sanborn is regarded as one of the best in the section after winning a state title last season, while first-year Greeley coach Bobby Herodes has a very interesting background. He coached Marist from 1996-2006 and won three MAAC titles, and this Quakers team has really seemed to embrace him. They’ve dealt with a rash of injuries, but Herodes keeps plugging the holes and his team continues to play with confidence. A great example is Liam Bradley. He was on a scoring tear while playing forward at the end of the season, but after starting sweeper Greg Ginsberg went down with a broken leg in the quarters, Bradley unselfishly moved into the back to play defense and didn’t miss a beat. On top of all of that, an interesting twist is that Herodes lives in the Arlington area and told me that he’s coached a lot of these current Arlington players when they were younger, so there is a level of familiarity. To get here, Greeley has knocked off the two and three seeds, plus a reigning Class A state finalist in Port Chester – all on the road – so it’s pretty clear that this team won’t be intimidated by any opponent. But with all of that being said, it’s probably fair to say that Arlington is a different animal. The Admirals won a state title last season, and I’ve had some reliable sources tell me that this year’s team is capable of doing it again. Their defense held an explosive JJEF team without a goal for 100 minutes in the semis, so goals will be hard to come by for Greeley — especially with Bradley playing in the back. The Quakers a scrappy team and I’d give them a puncher’s chance, but with this being an essential home game for the Admirals, it would be very difficult to pick against them.
Next up: The winner will play the Section 4 champion in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at a location and time TBD.
Prediction: Arlington 1, Horace Greeley 0
Photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News