Home > Boys soccer playoffs: Semifinal previews | USA Today High School Sports

Boys soccer playoffs: Semifinal previews | USA Today High School Sports

Scarsdale defeated New Rochelle 5-2 in a boys soccer game at Quaker Ridge School in Scrasdale Oct. 13, 2015.

Scarsdale defeated New Rochelle 5-2 in a boys soccer game at Quaker Ridge School in Scrasdale Oct. 13, 2015.

With heavy rain in the forecast, we’ll have to monitor the weather for Wednesday. There’s a chance that the semifinals get pushed back to Thursday. In the meantime, I wrote up previews for all six semis which are scheduled to be played.

I should also note the Class C semis have been moved up to Tuesday. I offered predictions for Class C earlier in the playoffs, and I’ll do a more in-depth preview before the final.


No. 1 Arlington (17-1) vs. No. 5 Mamaroneck (13-4-1)
Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Where: Arlington HS
Key players: Arl — Dillon Ashong, Sr., F; Vinny Colantuono, Sr., MF; Ryan Wilson, Sr., GK. Mk — Matt DiCicco, Jr., MF; Conor LeBlanc, Jr., F; Jack Spiradellis, Jr., D. 
Outlook: The Admirals have been absolutely rolling through the playoff so far, outscoring Saunders and Suffern by a combined tally of 10-0. No other team in any class has been that dominant. And while Mamaroneck should be their toughest test yet, it would be difficult to bet against the top seed. The Tigers willed their way to an overtime win against Horace Greeley in the quarters without leading scorer Alex Alma, who suffered a concussion in the first round. He’s been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, which gives Arlington even more of advantage. The Admirals’ depth coupled with Alma’s untimely injury makes this an uphill battle for the Tigers. Arlington is a senior-laden team which remains my pick to win it all, but this Mamaroneck team, which starts only one senior, will be back. 
Prediction: Arlington 3, Mamaroneck 1

No. 3 Scarsdale (15-2-1) vs. No. 7 Yorktown (10-4-4)
Wednesday at noon
Where: Scarsdale HS
Key players: Scar — Hayden Carey, Sr., GK; Nacho Marini, Sr., F; Fazl Shaikh, Sr., MF. Yk — Joey Landicino, Jr., F; Enzo Sangiacomo, Jr., MF; Giuliano Santucci, Jr., GK. 
Outlook: Yorktown deserves a ton of credit for reaching this point in its first season as a Class AA team. The Huskers were in the Class A final last season, but the expectation was that the depth in AA would make it much more difficult to get back to a section final. Thanks to Monday’s 2-1 upset win over No. 2 Port Chester, Yorktown is on the verge of doing just that, which is even more impressive when you consider one of its top scorers, Marcello Spiniello, has been out with a broken foot. Enzo Sangiacomo, Joey Landicino and Alex Kaczor have picked up some of the scoring slack, while Giulianno Santucci has emerged as one of the best goalies in the class. Scarsdale, though, has won nine straight and seems to be improving with each game. Shutting out an explosive team like Ketcham in the quarters certainly opened some eyes. The Raiders have a very balanced attack and have been the most consistent team in AA outside of Arlington. I wouldn’t count out the Huskers, but Scarsdale is the pick. 
Prediction: Scarsdale 2, Yorktown 1


No. 1 Pearl River (16-2) vs. No. 12 Eastchester (8-8-3)
Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Where: Pearl River HS
Key players: PR — Sean Coughlan, Sr., MF/D; Craig MacDonald, Jr., F; Mark Russell, Sr., MF. East — Lucas Barbieri, Sr., GK; Michael Branca, Jr., F; Austin Capasso, Sr., MF. 
Outlook: Not that Pearl River needed any more motivation at this time of year, but the Pirates have to be licking their chops at the prospect of playing Eastchester. No, it’s not because the Eagles are the No. 12 seed with a .500 record on the season. It’s because it was Eastchester which derailed Pearl River’s undefeated season last year by shocking the top-seeded Pirates with an upset in the quarters. Whether they’ll admit it or not, there is a revenge factor to this game, which could give Pearl River even more of an edge. I anticipate that the Pirates will come out flying, pushing hard for an early goal. And with the versatility of their attack – they have about six or seven guys who are capable of scoring every game – I do think that they’ll be able to notch a few goals. Eastchester is a resilient bunch which never gave up earlier in the season when things weren’t going so well, but I think Pearl River is on a mission to get to the final. 
Prediction: Pearl River 2, Eastchester 0

No. 2 Byram Hills (15-2-1) vs. No. 3 Tappan Zee (14-2-2)
Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Where: Byram Hills HS
Key players: BH — Jack Beer, Jr., MF; Matt Groll, Jr., GK; Ben Weinstein, Sr., F. TZ — James Hennessy, Sr., D; Lukas Puris, Sr., MF; Eoghan McGee, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Even though TZ lost to Byram in overtime when they played back in September, the result was much more meaningful than that. The fact that the Dutchmen took the defending champs to extra time served as proof that they were a force to be reckoned with, and they haven’t lost in 10 games since, including a 1-0 win over top-seeded Pearl River. TZ has long been known as a very good defensive team, but we’ve seen a much more balanced offensive attack from the Dutchmen. There was no panic when they went down 1-0 against Riverside in the quarters, and they responded with three goals of their own. Byram, meanwhile, has struggled to finish consistently so far in these playoffs. They were kept off the board for nearly 65 minutes in the first round against Brewster and managed just one goal on a PK against Pelham. You could make a case that TZ is the hotter team right now, but I think this is where the Bobcats’ playoff experience comes into play. This group has been here before and has the talent to go even further this season. I definitely give the Dutchmen a fighting chance, but Byram is in its 10th consecutive semifinal for a reason. 
Prediction: Byram Hills 1, Tappan Zee 0


No. 3 Edgemont (14-3-1) vs. No. 7 Rye Neck (11-5-2)
Wednesday at 3:15 p.m.
Where: Edgemont HS
Key players: Edge — Justin Shifteh, Jr., MF; Drew Simon, Sr., F; Nikash Taskar, Sr., MF. RN — Luis Galeano, Jr., MF/F; Will Galeano, Sr., D; Reed Peterson, Jr., MF/F.
Outlook: The defending champs are surging right now and are unbeaten in their last 10 games. They just blanked a Bronxville team which many coaches believed to be the most talented in the Class B field, so confidence for Rye Neck is at its peak. They’ve proven that they’re much more than just one dynamic player (Luis Galeano) and have been getting scoring from all over the place. And in the back, sophomore goalkeeper Tom Bermingham has really found his groove. During this impressive 10-game stretch, there is only one team that Rye Neck hasn’t beaten – Edgemont, which resulted in a 1-1 tie a couple of weeks ago. Edgemont has also shown depth and versatility, but most of their key goals are generated by Drew Simon and Nikash Taskar, arguably the best duo in Class B. They’ll be the focuses of Rye Neck’s attention, particularly top defender Will Galeano. I believe that both teams are capable of winning it all, so a result either way wouldn’t surprise me. But Rye Neck has eight starters back from last year’s championship team and no team in the class is as red-hot at the moment. 
Prediction: Rye Neck 2, Edgemont 1

No. 4 Hastings (14-2-2) vs. No. 9 Blind Brook (11-6-1)
Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Where: Hastings HS
Key players: Hast — Will Berritt, Sr., MF; John Ceballos, Sr., F; Jackson Silverstein, Jr., MF. BB — Justin Endlich, Sr., MF; Joao Souza, Jr., F; Matthew Streichler, Sr., MF.
Outlook: No one should be surprised that Blind Brook has reached this point as the No. 9 seed. The Trojans have built a winning tradition in the last five years, winning three straight titles before Rye Neck found its way to the top last season. They just upset No. 1 seed Valhalla by a two-goal margin, which is the type of win that could very well propel them to their fourth championship in five years. But the opponent standing in their way is one that should not be taken lightly. In fact, these league rivals played twice late in the season, both one-goal wins for Hastings. They say beating a team three times in the same season is never easy – let alone the same month – but there are reasons to believe in the Yellow Jackets. They are not over-reliant on any one player. Will Berrit and John Ceballos are probably their most dynamic scorers, but the goals are coming from all over. And they’ve also shown the ability to shut teams down, as evident by a 2-0 win over a very talented Pleasantville team in the quarters. I’ve been going back-and-forth with this pick, but my gut is telling me that Hastings has proven to be the better team and will complete the elusive three-game sweep. 
Prediction: Hastings 2, Blind Brook 1

Scoreboard: Complete schedule for the Section 1 boys soccer playoffs

Twitter: @vzmercogliano

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