Regional finals will take place across New York on Saturday, and we’ll have three Section 1 champions in action hoping to punch their tickets to the state final four. The Poughkeepsie Journal (@PJSports) will have you covered for John Jay-EF’s Class AA game earlier in the day, and then I’ll be heading up to Arlington for Byram’s Class A game at 2 p.m. Rye Neck will be playing its Class B game way out on Long Island, but I’ll be in touch with co-coaches Bryan Iacovelli and Frank Gizzo to provide on a story on that game, as well. Follow me on Twitter @vzmercogliano for updates throughout the day.
Here is the schedule for Saturday, and I’ve added some info on each of the Section 1 opponents:
At Arlington HS
Match-up: John Jay-East Fishkill (16-4-1) vs. Section 4 champ Ithaca (14-3), 11 a.m.
What to know about Ithaca: Ithaca is a perennial power for Section 4, coming off of its second straight Section 4 title and 14th overall. To get here, the Little Red had to survive an overtime game in the section final against Corning. At this stage last year, they lost to Arlington, 1-0. Word is that Ithaca likes to rotate forwards and can put up goals in bunches, but JJEF has scoring depth of its own. I’d call the Patriots a slight favorite.
At Arlington HS
Match-up: Byram Hills (16-5) vs. Section 4 champ Vestal (14-3-1), 2 p.m.
What to know about Vestal: Vestal is another team that is accustomed to success, as the Golden Bears are coming off of their 25th sectional title. Vestal also survived OT in its sectional final win over Johnson City, which had been the No. 1 team in the state at one point this season. Byram should benefit from having star striker Bennett Kramer back from his hamstring injury for the second straight game, with the hope that he had the chance to shake off some rust in the previous round.
At Diamond in the Pines (Coram, NY)
Match-up: Rye Neck (13-5-3) vs. Section 11 champ Mattituck (16-2)
What to know about Mattituck: By all accounts, Mattituck is a Class B juggernaut, coming off its fifth straight section title and currently ranked No. 1 in the state. The go-to scorer for the Tuckers has been senior Kaan Ilgin, who scored both goals in their section championship win over Center Moriches and added two more in their Long Island championship win over Wheatley. Look for Rye Neck to pay extra close attention to him, just as Mattituck will follow Panthers’ leading scorer Luis Galeano very closely. The Suffolk Times proclaimed, “There is little doubt that Mattituck High School is the team to beat in the New York State Class B boys high school soccer tournament.” But this young Rye Neck team hasn’t been intimidated throughout these playoffs and has been surprising us all season, so I wouldn’t go counting the Panthers out just yet.
Photo by Darryl Bautista/The Poughkeepsie Journal