Pelham (15-5-1) vs. Section 9 champ Goshen (16-3)
When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Arlington HS
Key players: Pelham – Charlie Livingstone, Sr., MF; Aidan Murray, Sr., F; Otavio Basso, Jr., D; Jefferson Santos, Sr., MF; Eddie Livingstone, Jr., MF. Goshen — Colton Schaefer, Sr., MF; Luis Howell, Sr., F; Corey Kennedy, Soph., MF; Justus Schaefer, Soph., MF; Brandon Miller, Sr., GK.
Outlook: Everything seems to be clicking for this Pelham team, which has won 12 straight and hasn’t allowed a goal since the first round. The Pelicans handled Vestal in the regional semis with a 2-0 win, with Charlie Livingstone once again finding Aidan Murray for a pair of goals. Those two have been unstoppable recently. I asked Murray if he was surprised that teams haven’t found a way to stop the two of them from hooking up – especially considering they have connected on each of Pelham’s last five goals – and his answer was telling. Even though opponents know that it’s coming, this team is supremely confident that they have the skill to continue and beat defenses. They’re not going to change anything until someone proves that they can stop it. The supporting cast has been tremendous, and it’s really difficult to pinpoint a weakness for the Pelicans at this point. Keeper Vin Mazzaro and the defense have been outstanding, the midfield is simply outworking other teams and Murray is one of the best weapons in the state up top. Goshen probably comes into this game as a bit of an underdog, but the Gladiators are coming off of a huge upset win over Wallkill in the Section 9 final, which was ranked No. 1 in the state at the time. Everything that I’ve heard about them is that they are very strong in the midfield and play compact on defense. Most of Murray’s goals have come on long runs, but Goshen is going to do everything in its power to force Pelham to shoot from 20-plus yards out. I expect them to pack it in on defense and dare the Pelicans to take their chances from long distance. Whether or not they find a way to create scoring chances in the box could be the difference in the game. An issue for the Gladiators, at times, has been their inability to create offense. They haven’t put up a ton of goals this season, and with the way that Pelham’s defense has been playing, it’s hard to see them finding the back of the net too often. The Pelicans should win the possession battle, but they’ll need to find a way to crack this Goshen defense and put it in the back of the net. For what it’s worth, Goshen lost 2-1 in overtime to Byram Hills this season. And of course, Pelham beat Byram in the Class A semis.
Next up: The winner will play in the Class A state semis at Faller Field in Middletown next Saturday.
Photo by Peter Carr/The Journal News