CLASS A FINAL
No. 4 Byram Hills (14-5) vs. No. 11 Yorktown (11-8-1)
When: 6 p.m. on Sunday
Where: Arlington HS
Previous meeting(s) in 2014: None
Key forwards: BH – Brandon Drossman and Ben Weinstein (pictured above). Yk – Mohamed Hamza and Marcello Spiniello.
Forces in the midfield: BH – Ryan Blum, Ethan Soloway and Cole Tannor. Yk – David Metz, Roy Reynolds and Adam Romanski.
Defensive stalwarts: BH – Andrew Cohen, Yianni Lambos and Payton Levine. Yk – David Mertz, Nick Montgomery and Matt Sussman.
Goalkeepers: BH – Matt Groll. Yk – Jacob Braham.
Coach speak: “The key for us is to maintain our composure in the midfield and to control their incredibly gifted front line. We will need to be creative in the final third and take advantage of the chances we get. Lastly, the first 20 minutes is all about emotion and passion; just hope that we can keep ours in check against a very strong opponent.” – Byram coach Matty Allen
Outlook: Byram comes in having won nine straight, but the Bobcats are really hurting up front. After red-hot striker Bennett Kramer went down in the quarters against Pelham with a torn hamstring, Byram’s No. 2 option Ben Weinstein suffered a minor concussion in the semis against Eastchester. They’re the top two scorers on the team – Kramer with eight goals and 12 assists, and Weinstein with nine goals and seven assists. Kramer is out for the final, while coach Matty Allen tells me that Weinstein will be a “game-time decision.” The concussion protocol is five days until a player returns to action, and Sunday will be the fifth day for Weinstein. It would be a huge blow for Byram to lose him on top of having Kramer out, but Brandon Drossman chipped in a goal up top in the semis, and strikers Matt Berger and Garrett Wolfe have experience coming off the bench. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen play two forwards at a time in an attempt to generate goals, but the fact is, it will be up to the midfield and even the defense to contribute offensively. Payton Levine could be the X-factor. He’s probably Byram’s best all-around player – and fastest – and he has some experience up top. He’s been playing mostly on defense recently, but he takes a lot of the Bobcats’ free kicks and is third on the team with five goals. Yorktown’s attack is in much better shape. Mohamed Hamza (nine goals and four assists) has been on fire since being moved from midfield to striker, and along with Marcello Spiniello (10 goals and six assists) and Roy Reynolds (seven goals and seven assists) gives the Huskers a scoring trio that most teams would envy. It’s worth keeping an eye on how Hamza is moving around early, as he’s been dealing with a hamstring issue for the past few games. (Although that didn’t stop him from scoring the game-winner against Somers in the semis.) It will be an extremely tough matchup for the Byram defense, but perhaps no team in the class is as well-equipped in the back as the Bobcats. They allowed Eastchester to take just three shots over 80 minutes in the semis and rarely get caught out of position. Logic tells me that Yorktown is primed its first title since 1990 with Byram potentially missing two key cogs in its offense, but since the Bobcats upset three-time defending Class A state champ Jericho 3-0 a few weeks ago, it seems like nothing has been able to derail them. Byram has been in six of the last nine section championship games, and my gut tells me that this battle-tested team will find a way to get its first title since 2010.
Prediction: Byram Hills 2, Yorktown 1
Photo by Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News