VALHALLA 2, SPACKENKILL 1 —
Late game situations are often referred to as, “Crunch Time,” but at Valhalla, they may have to start calling it, “Kaio Time.”
Trailing Spackenkill, the top-ranked Class B team in New York state, by one goal with 20 minutes to play in the inaugural Section 1 vs. Section 9 Challenge, the host moved junior star Kaio DaSilva from defense to forward. It’s a move that has paid off for Valhalla a few times already this year, and it worked out once again on Monday.
Within a few minutes, DaSilva netted the equalizer. Shortly thereafter, George Kennedy scored the winner to snap a five-game winless streak and give the Vikings a 2-1 win – easily their biggest of the season.
“I’m just doing it for my team,” DaSilva said. “I try to do as best I can in the back, and if my coach (Sandro Prosperino) tells me to go up top, I try to do the same and do the best that I can. I keep getting chances, and I’m finishing them.”
After starting the season 6-0-1, Valhalla has struggled during the toughest stretch of its schedule in recent weeks. The Vikings (7-4-2) created chances in the first half, with Matias Aranda just missing a goal on a shot that skimmed the post in the 26th minute and Ricky Thomas having his shot cleared off the goal line by a Spackenkill defender in the 35th.
Less than two minutes before halftime, the Spartans (13-1) cashed on their best opportunity, with Cris Stamper drilling a free kick from 30 yards out to put Valhalla in a 1-0 hole.
With time running out in the second half, Prosperino told DaSilva to make the switch.
“It’s probably hard to adjust going from me at center back to me up top,” DaSilva said of the problems that he caused for Spackenkill after moving to forward. “Having to mark Ricky, our small little striker, and then putting me up top – a big man; target man – it’s probably hard to adjust midgame.”
DaSilva was active right away, and in the 62nd minute, Yuto Tobin fed him on the left wing and DaSilva calmly finished.
“I listened to the Lakeland coach (Tim Hourahan), and he told me to drag the center back out and then cut inside,” DaSilva said. “The first play that happened, I dragged him out, made the cutting run, and Yuto gave me a beautiful ball. I just put it in with my left (foot).”
Five minutes later, Kennedy followed his own rebound to give the Vikings a shocking 2-1 lead and set the Spartans up for their first loss of the season.
“It was a great goal,” DaSilva said. “He missed his first chance, and then he redeemed himself.”
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Valhalla, which had been reeling after a hot start.
“I’m proud of my boys’ effort and how hard they worked to earn this win,” Prosperino said. “To walk into this game on a five-game winless streak and trail 1-0 at the half, to come back and beat the No. 1 team in the state; it’s definitely something we hope to build on.”
Five of DaSilva’s eight goals this season have either tied the score or put Valhalla ahead, but when asked after the game if he thinks he should play forward more often, the unselfish hero said he enjoys doing the dirty work on defense.
“I like center back more, to be honest,” he said with a wide grin.
BYRAM HILLS 4, CORNWALL 0 —
It hasn’t been a typical regular season for Byram Hills, which is accustomed to lofty win totals and deep playoff runs, but the Bobcats may just be peaking at the right time.
After upsetting three-time defending Class A state champ Jericho on Saturday, Byram hammered Section 9 powerhouse Cornwall with a 4-0 win in the opening game of the inaugural Section 1 vs. Section 9 Challenge at Valhalla High on Monday.
“It’s been, without question, the best two games that we’ve played all season,” Byram coach Matty Allen said.
The Bobcats were uncharacteristically sitting at 5-5 midway through the season, but have rattled off four straight wins to thrust themselves back into the Class A section title picture.
Bennett Kramer’s emergence up top has coincided with the recent surge, and he added two more goals and an assist against Cornwall.
“Bennett’s been phenomenal recently,” Allen said. “Beyond leadership of being our go-to scorer and a senior, I think he has five goals in our last three games – and quality goals. He’s taking guys on, and he’s really asserted himself.”
Kramer’s first goal came 20 minutes in, when Ben Weinstein flicked a long punt from goalkeeper Matt Groll and Kramer finished from about 18 yards out.
Three minutes into the second half, Kramer scored again on a cross from Ryan Blum.
Kramer repaid the favor later in the half when he set up Blum for a goal to make it 3-0, and then Ethan Soloway found the net in the final minute of the game.
“I would say our goalie play has been very good,” Allen said. “Matt Groll has really asserted himself in net and Payton Levine has made the transition back to playing sweeper, which has really helped us. He was our leading scorer at the time, but he asked to be moved back. He said he felt more confident to be behind the ball.”
LAKELAND 2, GOSHEN 1 —
Lakeland was in need of a morale boost after dropping Saturday’s highly anticipated game to unbeaten Pearl River, and the Hornets got just what they were looking for on Monday at the inaugural Section 1 vs. Section 9 Challenge at Valhalla High.
A 2-1 bounce back win over defending Section 9 Class A champ Goshen got Lakeland back on track.
“I knew we were going to respond well,” senior defender David Acevedo said. “We don’t want to have the back-to-back losses, and we’re done losing for the rest of the season. This was a huge win for us; a confidence-booster.”
After being held without a goal for only the second time all season against Pearl River, it didn’t take Johnny Denis long to rediscover his scoring touch on Monday.
In the fourth minute, Denis capitalized on a Goshen turnover and scored a breakaway goal.
“Our team is built to score goals this year,” Acevedo said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t more than two today, but we got away with the win, and Johnny made huge contributions to that.”
Six minutes later, Mike O’driscoll made it 2-0 Lakeland when he followed his own shot that went off the post and scored on the rebound.
The Hornets (9-3-1) wouldn’t score again, but they held Goshen off the board until the final minute of the game, with goalkeeper Javier Gonzalez making six saves.
“We really needed to beat a good team,” Lakeland coach Tim Hourahan said. “We pride ourselves in never losing two in a row, and I was really happy that we got to have another chance to compete at the highest level of Class A soccer, as Goshen is another ranked opponent in New York state.”
MAMARONECK 4, NEWBURGH FREE ACADEMY 0 —
Goals were hard to come by for Mamaroneck during Saturday’s scoreless tie with North Rockland, but the Tigers opened their offense back up in Monday’s 4-0 win over Newburgh Free Academy in the inaugural Section 1 vs. Section 9 Challenge at Valhalla High.
“We prepared really hard this week and last week for this game because we’ve heard that they’re a good team. After tying North Rockland scoreless, we really wanted to go out there today and score goals,” sophomore Alex Alma said. “We were passing a lot better, but against North Rockland, I think we created chances – we just weren’t able to put them away like today.”
Alma and Yeison Benegas each had a goal and an assist as Mamaroneck (8-2-3) had its way with NFA.
Benegas, who transferred to Mamaroneck over the summer after living in Honduras, has been quite the find for the Tigers.
“Yeison is an amazing player,” Alma said. “He could even be the best player on this team, and even one of the best players in the section. He’s had such a big impact on the team this year.”
Jonhy Maldonado and J.D. Wilson also scored for Mamaroneck, which is currently ranked statewide in Class AA.
“I think we’re capable of beating any team in the section, and even the state, as we tied (Long Island power) Massapequa,” Alma said. “We can also lose, but I think we’re going to do well this year.”
RHINEBECK 2, BRONXVILLE 1 —
In the inaugural Section 1 vs. Section 9 Challenge at Valhalla, Ryan Euell scored both goals for the Hawks, including the winner on an assist from Adrian Cruz in the 75th minute. Sam Aherne scored a header for the Broncos off of James Burnell‘s corner kick in the sixth minute, which was the first goal allowed all season by 12-0 Rhinebeck.
Best of the rest: Hector Sandoval scored the golden goal on an assist from Billy Moran in a 1-0 overtime win over Saunders in the Westchester vs. Rockland Challenge at Tappan Zee High. … In another Westchester vs. Rockland Challenge game, Osvaldo Almiron had two goals and three assists in White Plains’ 8-1 win over Spring Valley. … In the third and final Westchester vs. Rockland Challenge game, Marco Batista had a goal and an assist and Vincent Pepe made eight saves in Tappan Zee’s 4-0 win over Harrison. …Luis Galeano scored twice in host Rye Neck’s 3-0 win over Solomon Schechter. … Manuel Crespo had a goal and an assist in Sleepy Hollow’s 2-0 win over visiting Westlake. … Daiton Powell and Vincent Perri each scored in Suffern’s 2-0 win over Minisink.
Here are all of the scores that we received from Monday:
Valhalla 2, Spackenkill 1
Byram Hills 4, Cornwall 0
Rhinebeck 2, Bronxville 1
Lakeland 2, Goshen 1
Mamaroneck 4, NFA 0
Tappan Zee 4, Harrison 0
Nyack 1, Saunders 0, OT
White Plains 8, Spring Valley 1
Warwick 2, North Rockland 0
Rye Neck 3, Solomon Schechter 0
Sleepy Hollow 2, Westlake 0
Suffern 2, Minisink 0