It’s time to wrap-up the 2014 season, which means that it’s time for our final set of #lohudsoccer power rankings. It’s also difficult to weigh regular season performance vs. the playoffs, but I tend to lean towards the teams that finished strong, which is why you’ll see teams that performed well at sectionals making big jumps. Of course, you can let me know where you disagree in the comments section below.
Lastly, please be sure to pick up a copy of Sunday’s edition of The Journal News, which will contain our player of the year, coach of the year and all-star selections for both Westchester/Putnam and Rockland. That’s also where you’ll find the final results for our first ever fan-selected all-star teams.
TOP 10 OVERALL
1. John Jay-East Fishkill (16-5-1) – In the days leading up to the start of the sectional playoffs, I can recall at least three coaches telling me that they thought JJEF had the most talented team in a deep Class AA field. Well, it turns out they were right. The Patriots caught fire to end the year with what turned out to be the most well-balanced team in the section, and their first title since 2008 earned them a final ranking of No. 1. Previous ranking: 2
2. Mamaroneck (14-3-3) – One year after following up an undefeated regular season with an unexpected semifinal loss, the Tigers were able to reach the Class AA final with a core of players that has elevated the program. They lost an OT heartbreaker to JJEF, but there’s no question that they’ve been one of the most consistent two or three teams in the section for the past two years. Like the champion Patriots, it’s hard to pinpoint a weakness for Mamaroneck. PR: 4
3. Arlington (15-2-1) – Although the Admirals were upset by Fox Lane in the quarterfinals, they had earned the top seed by playing like the best team in the Class AA during the regular season. The Admirals beat eventual champ JJEF in both league meetings, which tells us they’re capable of beating anyone listed here. After graduating every starter from teams that had won back-to-back titles in ’12 and ’13, there wasn’t nearly as much of a drop-off at Arlington as expected. PR: 1
4. Port Chester (15-3-1) – The Rams, too, have proven that they can play with anyone in the section. They took Mamaroneck to PKs in the semis and beat Class A regional champ Byram Hills twice during the regular season. Steven Hernandez (13 goals, 11 assists) and Luis Morales (18 goals, five assists) led an offense that was as potent as any. PR: 5
5. Byram Hills (17-6) – The Bobcats came together after a shaky start, rattling off 12 straight wins to claim their first Class A section title since ’10 and regional title since ’09. They might not have had any star players with huge numbers, but they won with a team-oriented approach, utilizing their depth and versatility. No team from Section 1 advanced as far in the state playoffs. PR: 6
6. Pearl River (16-1-1) – The Pirates got tripped up earlier than anyone expected in the Class A playoffs, but there’s no denying that they had a season to remember. For the first time in program history, they went unbeaten in the regular season, knocking off every team in Rockland County and finally get a win over Westchester rival Lakeland. Pearl River allowed a Section 1-best six goals all season (playoffs included). PR: 3
7. Fox Lane (13-6) – The Foxes jump into the top 10 thanks to a postseason run that won’t soon be forgotten. They forced their way in by shocking two-time defending Class AA champ Arlington in the quarters. But the truth is, they probably should have been here all along. The trio of Owen Azrak, Isaac Sanabria and Juan Rivera was explosive offensively as any in the section. PR: Not ranked
8. Ketcham (12-6) – In my opinion, the toughest league in the section to play in is League I-A, and the Indians are becoming a big reason why. Arlington or JJEF has claimed each of the last three titles, but Ketcham is making strides to catch up to its rivals. It was the last team to beat JJEF before the Patriots went on their run to a title. PR: NR
9. New Rochelle (9-6) – The Huguenots upped their game under first-year coach Jarohan Garcia, playing very well in a tough league and getting their first playoff win in quite some time. They hung tough with Mamaroneck, swept Scarsdale and came through with a first round win over a battle-tested Greeley squad. A lot of positive steps for the program. PR: 7
10. Scarsdale (10-5-2) – Like league rival New Rochelle, the Raiders also made a smooth transition to a new coach in Paul Brooks and held its own in a deep Class AA field. They went to OT against eventual champ JJEF in the quarters and played very well down the stretch, particularly in the midfield. PR: 8
On the fringe: Eastchester (12-6-1), Horace Greeley (9-6-2), Lakeland (13-4-1), Somers (12-5-2), Yorktown (11-9-1)
1. John Jay-East Fishkill (16-5-1) PR: 2
2. Mamaroneck (14-3-3) PR: 3
3. Arlington (15-2-1) PR: 1
4. Port Chester (15-3-1) PR: 4
5. Fox Lane (13-6) PR: NR
6. Ketcham (12-6) PR: 9
7. New Rochelle (9-6) PR: 5
8. Scarsdale (10-5-2) PR: 6
9. Horace Greeley (9-6-2) PR: 7
10. Suffern (9-7-2) PR: 8
On the fringe: Ossining (9-8), North Rockland (7-7-3), White Plains (8-8-1)
NOTES: Eight of the top 10 teams overall come from Class AA, which tells you how deep it was this year. The top four stayed the same – in varying orders – all season, but there were about a dozen other teams that fielded very competitive teams. … Fox Lane’s strong playoff performance results in a top five finish. A major breakout season for the Foxes. … Greeley lost to New Ro in the first round, but had regular season wins over Fox Lane and Ketcham. The Quakers are worthy of the making the final list. … Suffern rounds out the top 10 after winning the Rockland County AA league. The Mounties also had a win over a ranked New Ro team.
1. Byram Hills (17-6) PR: 2
2. Pearl River (16-1-1) PR: 1
3. Lakeland (13-4-1) PR: 4
4. Yorktown (11-9-1) PR: 10
5. Somers (12-5-2) PR: 7
6. Eastchester (12-6-1) PR: 6
7. Pelham (11-7) PR: 5
8. Hen Hud (12-4-2) PR: 3
9. Tappan Zee (10-4-3) PR: 8
10. Nyack (6-11-1) PR: NR
On the fringe: John Jay (8-8-1), Peekskill (8-10), Rye (6-10-2)
NOTES: Byram earned the No. 1 ranking by winning the section, but it would have been very difficult to move Pearl River any lower than No. 2. The Pirates were upset in the quarters, but they were the leader of the pack for the majority of the season. They dominated the competition by allowing just five goals during an undefeated regular season and beat third-ranked Lakeland. … Lakeland also got upset in the quarters despite severely out-shooting and out-possessing Somers in that game, but the Hornets had the most explosive offense in the class and beat Class A finalist Yorktown when they met in the regular season. … Yorktown finished the regular season under .500, but make a big jump in the rankings thanks to a great postseason run all the way to the title game, beating Hen Hud, Somers and TZ along the way. … Both Somers and Eastchester reached the semis to cement their spots ahead of Pelham and Hen Hud. … TZ was a fairly obvious choice at No. 9, while Nyack earns the 10th spot thanks to a strong finish, which included a win over previously ranked John Jay in the outbracket round.
1. Rye Neck (14-6-2) PR: 6
2. Bronxville (14-4-2) PR: 2
3. Edgemont (12-6-1) PR: 3
4. Valhalla (10-6-3) PR: 4
5. Irvington (15-1-1) PR: 1
6. Briarcliff (11-6-1) PR: 7
7. Blind Brook (9-6-3) PR: 9
8. Hastings (13-5) PR: 5
9. Pleasantville (8-7-2) PR: 8
10. North Salem (6-10-1) PR: 10
On the fringe: Albertus Magnus (4-10-3) Croton-Harmon (6-10), Woodlands (6-11)
NOTES: The B rankings were not easy to do, but I kind of let it all fall into place based on head-to-head meetings. As the section champ, Rye Neck had to be No. 1, and with Bronxville reaching the final, it was the logical choice for No. 2. I thought about Irvington at No. 3 because of its tremendous regular season, but it had no wins over any top five teams. The Bulldogs were beat 2-0 by Valhalla in the quarterfinals, which is why the Vikings come in ahead of them. And Edgemont beat Valhalla in their head-to-head meeting, so that’s how the order fell into place. A very, very good top five this year in Class B. … You could really make a case for Briarcliff, Blind Brook or Hastings at No. 6 — each won its first round playoff game — but I went with a Bears team that really seemed to improve towards the end of the year. The same can be said for Blind Brook, which put up seven straight shutouts at the end of the regular season. … Pleasantville and North Salem round out a pretty obvious top 10. The best may be yet to come for a young Panthers team.
1. Solomon Schechter (13-3)
2. Hamilton (10-7-1)
3. Haldane (10-7)
4. Tuckahoe (2-13-1)
NOTES: Things always fall into place nicely in Class C. Schechter won the section, and Hamilton beat Haldane head-to-head in the semis.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!
Photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News