The state playoffs came to a close on Sunday at Middletown High, and for the second consecutive year, there were no state champs from Section 1.
As is usually the case, Section 11 was the most successful in the state, with champions in two classes — Commack in AA and Mattituck in B — plus another finalist with East Hampton in A. Next in line was Section 5, which had the A champ in Greece Athena and two other finalists in Fairport (AA) and World of Inquiry (C ). Section 9’s Rhinebeck won the Class C title and Section 6’s International Prep won in D.
The lack of success at the state level for local teams has been glaring in recent years — excluding Arlington’s Class AA title in 2012 — which begs the question: What does Section 1 need to do to improve its postseason showing?
Few sections in the state are hit as hard by the U.S. Academy rule, which is certainly a factor when it comes to the talent pool in Section 1. And few sections have as many teams make the playoffs, which means that Section 1 teams tend to play a round or two more than most teams around the state. But it’s also worth noting that a lot this has to do with the ball bouncing your way in the big moments.
Just look at Byram Hills. The Bobcats went farther than any other Section 1 team this year, reaching the Class A state semis, and many Byram fans will tell you that they should have been awarded a PK in the final minute of regulation when Brandon Drossman was essentially open-field tackled on a breakaway. And of course, the team that the Bobcats lost to went onto win the whole thing, so you could make a strong case that Byram was right there with any team in its class. At worst, they should be ranked No. 2 behind champion Greece Athena, which won by two goals in the championship game after surviving overtime against the Bobcats.
Two other Section 1 champs lost to the eventual state champs during regionals. Mattituck dominated the Class B bracket, but the only team to keep it relatively close with them was Rye Neck in a 3-1 loss. Mattituck beat every other state playoff opponent by at least three goals. And Solomon Schechter lost to eventual Class C state champ Rhinebeck.
I don’t think it’s entirely fair to be critical of Section 1 because most of the facts indicate that they aren’t too far off, but what do you make of local teams having won just one state title in the last six seasons?
Photo by Tania Savayan/The Journal News