Class C final preview
No. 1 Solomon Schechter (9-4-2) vs. No. 2 Hamilton (8-8-1)
When: Friday at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Lakeland HS
Key players: SS — Ben Goldberg, Jr., D; Noam Goldberg, Sr., MF; Daniel Kohen, Sr., MF; Miles Ogihara, So., F; Jonathan Rand, Jr., MF. Ham — Alpotchino Andre, Jr., F; Cristian Barriga, Sr., MF; Capy Charles, Jr., F; Jhoy Saca, Sr., D; Danny Valle-Ortiz, Jr., D.
Outlook: I thought that North Salem’s addition to the Class C field might shake things up this year, but it’s the same pair of teams that will be vying for the title on Friday. Last year, Solomon Schechter beat Hamilton, 3-2, to capture its second title in three years. The Lions graduated eight seniors from that team – a huge hit for such a small school – which included top scorer Ari Leffell and all but one starter from their defense. But coach Bryan Lamana has built a program that can last, which we’ve seen once against this season. Schechter was easily the most consistent regular season team in the class and has shown that plenty of talent remains to go after a repeat. The Red Raiders, on the other hand, got off to an very slow start while star striker Capy Charles was out with a sprained ankle. They were 1-5-1 before Charles came back and everything started clicking. Since then, Hamilton has gone 7-3 and looked like a championship-caliber team. It’s important to note that the Red Raiders lost to Schechter earlier in the season without Charles, but beat the Lions later in the year with Charles back in the lineup. The first game was a 1-0 defensive showdown, while the second was a 4-3 shootout, so it’s hard to tell exactly what to expect on Friday. Hamilton is coming off of a tougher semifinal against North Salem, while Schechter squeaked out a 1-0 win over a Haldane team which won two games all season. Last year, the Lions had the most dynamic player on the field in Leffell, but this year I think the Red Raiders have that in Charles. Last night I thought I was going to take Schechter, but the more I think about it, I’m leaning towards Hamilton.
Coach speak: “It’s going to be a very tough game. Most sectional games end in a one goal difference, so it will probably come down to who leaves their heart on the field. It’s always exciting to go to the finals and it was a disappointing loss last year, so we are just excited to get another opportunity to play for a sectional title. Schechter and Hamilton split the regular season games, so this hopefully will be another amazing game.” — Hamilton coach Robert Segaloff
Prediction: Hamilton 3, Solomon Schechter 2