Now that we’ve all had a chance to analyze the brackets for this year’s Section 1 playoffs, it’s time to offer up some predictions. I can guarantee you that they won’t all be right, but at least we can have some fun in the meantime. Let me know which teams you think will win!
And don’t forgot, I’ll be hosting a live #lohudsoccer chat in just about an hour. Be sure to stop by!
No. 14 White Plains over No. 19 Mount Vernon
No. 15 Mahopac over No. 18 Ossining
No. 17 Ramapo over No. 16 Saunders
Breaking it down: White Plains and Mount Vernon actually split in two games this season, so this game isn’t a layup. But the Tigers finished the season with wins in three of their last four, and I like them here. … Mahopac beat Ossining, 3-1, during the regular season. I say history repeats itself. … Ramapo has shown improvement over the course of the season and has a dynamic scorer in Steve Cadet. I’m going with the Gryphons.
No. 1 Arlington over No. 17 Ramapo
No. 2 Port Chester over No. 15 Mahopac
No. 3 Scarsdale over No. 14 White Plains
No. 4 Horace Greeley over No. 13 North Rockland
No. 5 Mamaroneck over No. 12 Fox Lane
No. 6 Ketcham over No. 11 Clarkstown North
No. 7 Yorktown over No. 10 New Rochelle
No. 9 John Jay-East Fishkill over No. 8 Suffern
Breaking it down: I can’t see any of the outbracket teams challenging the top three seeds, but things get tight after that. … North Rockland is a very tough opponent for Greeley. The Red Raiders have allowed just one goal in their last eight games. Yes, you read that right. They’re a stellar defensive team, while the Quakers have an explosive offense that averages just about three goals per game. Something has to give. I’m taking Greeley, but it’s not an easy call. … Yorktown vs. New Ro is another difficult call. The Huskers took a big hit when they lost All-Section striker Marcello Spiniello to a broken foot, but they actually finished the season without a loss in their last seven games. The Huguenots, on the other hand, had lost five straight before upsetting John Jay-EF on Monday. I’m picking a Yorktown team that seems to have more momentum. … Fox Lane reached the semis last year, but Mamaroneck is a really tough draw. I like the Tigers. … I also like the Dutchess trio of Arlington, Ketcham and John Jay-EF to advance.
No. 1 Arlington over No. 9 John Jay-EF
No. 2 Port Chester over No. 7 Yorktown
No. 3 Scarsdale over No. 6 Ketcham
No. 5 Mamaroneck over No. 4 Greeley
Breaking it down: All of these games could go either way, but the one that really stands out is the Arlington-JJEF rivalry. Those teams are responsible for each of the last three section championships. The Admirals went 15-1 this season, but their only loss came against the Patriots, who are the defending champs. (In fairness, they split in two games.) I’ve seen both play, though, and Arlington has much more depth and experience. I think they avoid the upset. … Scarsdale and Ketcham are both capable of putting up goals in a hurry, so this one could be a shootout. The Raiders have been rolling of late, winning seven straight to end the regular season, so I’m riding the hot hand. … Mamaroneck vs. Greeley is another really, really tough one to pick. Ultimately, I think that the Tigers played a slightly more difficult schedule and have the experience of a deep run to the finals last season.
No. 1 Arlington over No. 5 Mamaroneck
No. 2 Port Chester over No. 3 Scarsdale
Breaking it down: Mamaroneck has established a program that competes for titles every year, but heading up to Arlington to play the favorites on their home field will be a tall order. I’m sticking with the Admirals. … This is Port Chester’s third season in Class AA, and each year the Rams have advanced further than the previous season. After reaching the quarters in 2013 and the semis in 2014, I think they take the next step and get to the final this year.
No. 1 Arlington over No. 2 Port Chester
Breaking it down: I’ve been riding Arlington all season and this is no time to jump off the bandwagon. Few would argue that the Admirals have the most talented roster in the field, and eight of their 11 starters were starters on last year’s team that got upset in the quarterfinals. They want redemption, and I think they’re going to get it.
No. 22 Harrison over No. 11 Peekskill
No. 12 Eastchester over No. 21 Gorton
No. 13 Nanuet over No. 20 Nyack
No. 14 John Jay over No. 19 Lincoln
No. 15 Brewster over No. 18 Hen Hud
No. 17 Keio over No. 16 Panas
Breaking it down: The most glaring pick here is Harrison over Peekskill, but allow me to explain. Peekskill has one of the top scorers in the section in Oswald Annang, but if the Huskies can limit his looks, I like their chances. Harrison plays in one of the toughest leagues in the section and has taken its lumps, but it’s also shown improvement as of late, playing Port Chester and Byram Hills tight in the last week. … The only other road team that I like is Keio, which also plays a very difficult schedule. The Unicorns’ record isn’t pretty, but I think they’ve prepared themselves for these type of games.
No. 1 Pearl River over No. 17 Keio
No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 15 Brewster
No. 3 Tappan Zee over No. 14 John Jay
No. 4 Lakeland over No. 13 Nanuet
No. 5 Rye over No. 12 Eastchester
No. 6 Riverside over No. 22 Harrison
No. 10 Pelham over No. 7 Sleepy Hollow
No. 8 Somers over No. 9 Beacon
Breaking it down: There are a few potential trap games in here. I just saw John Jay tie Yorktown on Saturday, and trust me, the Indians are much better than your average 14-seed. Very unlucky draw for TZ. … The same goes for Rye. The Garnets swept Eastchester in two games this year, but both came down to the wire, including an OT game in which Leo Gomes ended it with a nasty goal. They know each other well, which should make for a great game. … I think Riverside will prove that it’s legitimate with a win here. … Sleepy Hollow beat Pelham in a wild 4-3 game to begin the season, but a lot has changed since then. The Pelicans will be looking for revenge, and frankly, they played a much more difficult schedule. As you’ll notice, that’s one of my themes. I like the teams that test themselves throughout the regular season. … I like Somers, which I’ve had ranked in the top five pretty much all season, over Beacon.
No. 1 Pearl River over No. 8 Somers
No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 10 Pelham
No. 3 Tappan Zee over No. 6 Riverside
No. 5 Rye over No. 4 Lakeland
Breaking it down: Riverside and TZ played this season and tied, but I really like the way that the Dutchmen finished the season, which included a win over top-seeded Pearl River. … Somers is a tough draw for Pearl River, but the Tuskers are used to playing on a big, turf field. I think playing on Pearl River’s small, grass field will work to the Pirates’ advantage. … Byram and Pelham have formed quite the rivalry over the years and they always seem to meet in the playoffs. The Bobcats knocked the Pelicans out en route to a title last season, and Pelham did the same to Byram the previous year. The Bobcats swept both games during the regular season and I think that they have too much firepower this time around. … Fortunately for Lakeland, Matias Prando, Jordan Fein and Nick Foci have been released from the hospital and are going to be OK. But unfortunately, all three are expected to miss the playoffs and those are probably three of the Hornets’ top five players. I’m surely they’ll be highly motivated, but beating Rye with a depleted roster will be an uphill climb.
No. 1 Pearl River over No. 5 Rye
No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 3 Tappan Zee
Breaking it down: As much as I wanted to pick an upset, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Byram and Pearl River have the most experienced and accomplished teams in the Class A field. I think they’re on a collision course and we’ll get the see the game that everyone has been wanting to see for two years.
No. 2 Byram Hills over No. 1 Pearl River
Breaking it down: Both of these teams have a variety of weapons, but I give Byram a slight edge in a couple of areas. They have a goalie with championship experience in Matt Groll, who has been one of the best in the section this year. They have a cast of players that went to the state semis back from last season. And they have an influx of new talent with Jack Beer and the Noel brothers, who have made their offensive as explosive as it’s been in years. It will be a hard-nosed game, but I’d have a hard time picking against the Bobcats. Like Arlington in AA, I’ve been riding Byram all year, and I’m sticking with it.
No. 1 Valhalla bye
No. 2 Bronxville over No. 15 Dobbs Ferry
No. 3 Edgemont at No. 14 Ardsley
No. 4 Hastings over No. 13 Croton-Harmon
No. 5 Pleasantville over No. 12 Irvington
No. 6 Briarcliff over No. 11 Westlake
No. 7 Rye Neck over No. 10 Albertus Magnus
No. 9 Blind Brook over No. 8 Putnam Valley
Breaking it down: The only game where I considered the road teams were the 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9 games. Rye Neck is the defending champ and I just can’t see the Panthers going out this early, but Blind Brook is a team that plays a difficult schedule and has championship tradition. Before last season, the Trojans had won three straight Class B titles. I think they’re more than capable of traveling north and coming home with a win.
No. 1 Valhalla over No. 9 Blind Brook
No. 7 Rye Neck over No. 2 Bronxville
No. 3 Edgemont over No. 6 Briarcliff
No. 5 Pleasantville over No. 4 Hastings
Breaking it down: Finally, some upsets! I’ve been trying not to force them, but there are some tempting matchups here. The big one is Rye Neck over Bronxville, which is a rematch of last year’s championship final. The Panthers got hot at the end of the season and won that in overtime, and they’re taking a similar path this season. They started the season slow, but haven’t lost in their last seven games, going 6-0-1 in that span. Reed Peterson has really stepped up to take some pressure off of Luis Galeano, who earned a clutch reputation last postseason. Make no mistake: Rye Neck isn’t your average 7-seed. The Panthers return eight of 11 starters from last year’s championship team. … I really like Edgemont, which made Monday’s 3-0 loss to Briarcliff very surprising. Upon further review, the Panthers rested most of their starters, which makes me a bit more confident in the pick. … Pleasantville vs. Hastings is a coin flip. The Panthers called heads and won.
No. 1 Valhalla over No. 5 Pleasantville
No. 7 Rye Neck over No. 3 Edgemont
Breaking it down: Valhalla went 14-0 against teams not named “Pleasantville” this season, but 0-1-1 against the league rival Panthers. Obviously, Pleasantville is a tough matchup for the Vikings, but the way that their last game ended showed that the tide is turning in Valhalla’s favor. Trailing 3-0 at halftime, the Vikings scored three unanswered goals in the second half to come away with a tie. … Edgemont and Rye Neck tied 1-1 when they played in the regular season and match up very evenly. But as I wrote earlier, the Panthers have been on fire. I’m all aboard the bandwagon.
No. 1 Valhalla over No. 7 Rye Neck
Breaking it down: This is a game that will feature two of the most dynamic players in Class B in Galeano and Valhalla senior Kaio DaSilva. In my opinion, DaSilva is the leading candidate for small school player of the year due to his versatility. Valhalla coach Sandro Prosperino uses him in an attacking midfield role when he needs a goal and drops him back to defense he needs to protect a lead. But what we’ve seen from the Vikings is that they’re much more than just a one-man show. They beat Rye Neck when they met in the regular season and have been the most consistent team in the class all year. I believe that they’re poised for a title run.
No. 1 Solomon Schechter over No. 4 Haldane
No. 3 North Salem over No. 2 Hamilton
Breaking it down: It’s been a three-team race all season, which means that the 2 vs. 3 matchup is the most unpredictable. Hamilton has played much better in the second half of the season since leading scorer Capy Charles returned from injury, but my gut is telling me to take North Salem. The Tigers were a consistent contender for years in Class B, and in their first season in Class C, I think they’ll make their presence felt.
No. 3 North Salem over No. 1 Solomon Schechter
Breaking it down: North Salem went from being the smallest school in Class B to the largest in Class C. As such, I think the Tigers have more depth than the rest of the field. Schechter has had a great season after graduating some key players from last year’s title game, so I’m sure the Lions will keep it interesting. This could be one of the more exciting Class C finals that we’ve seen in some time.
ICYMI: Full schedule with matchups in every class for the Section 1 playoffs