No. 1 Solomon Schechter (9-5) vs. No. 2 Haldane (10-6-1)
When: Sunday, 11 a.m.
Where: Arlington High School
Key players: Solomon Schechter – Ari Leffell, Jr., MF; Rafi Dodo, Sr., F; Ben Burton, Jr., GK; Noah Goldberg, Jr., D; Daniel Kohen, Sr., MF. Haldane – Jay Marchese, Sr., MF; Aidan Draper, Jr., F; Peter Hoffmann, Jr., GK; Johnny Rotando, Sr., D; Ramsey Hietmann, Jr., MF.
Outlook: In a rematch of last year’s final, we have the clear-cut top two teams in Class C set to battle for a title. Schechter is the reigning champ after a 2-1 win over Haldane in the 2012 section final, and many of the key players from that game return for both sides. Leffell and Marchese are two outstanding players in the midfield and will each try to set the tone and serve as playmakers for their respective teams. Leffell, in particular, can be very dangerous on set pieces, and will take most of the Lions free kicks and corners. Schechter comes in having won seven of its last eight, but really had to gut it out in a 2-1 win over Hamilton in the semis. I’d be lying if I said that the Blue Devils convincing 8-0 over Tuckahoe in the semis didn’t make me rethink my original pick, but it wouldn’t be right to go back on it now. Haldane certainly seems to have the more potent offensive attack, with Draper serving as a proven finisher up top, but the Lions take a lot of pride in what they do in the back. Burton was the starting goalkeeper for last year’s run, so he’s been on this stage before. These teams seem to be about as evenly matched as they come, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go either way, but I’m sticking with my gut.
Next up: The winner will play Section 9 champ S.S. Seward in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at Arlington HS.
Prediction: Solomon Schechter 2, Haldane 1
Photo by Matthew Brown/The Journal News