The end of October marks the finish of one season and the start of another for Westchester’s high school soccer players.
By Mitch Silver
The end of October marks the finish of one season and the start of another for Westchester’s high school soccer players. With the regular schedule completed, all three local teams — Rye, Rye Neck, and Rye Country Day — found themselves entering the playoff season in winning form. What happened next is sort of a mixed bag.
Let’s start with Rye High. In their first season under Coach Sal Curella, the Garnets not only produced a winning record, they beat nationally ranked Byram Hills twice, the only losses the Bobcats suffered during the regular campaign. With a won-lost tally of 12-4 and a 4-0 final-game victory over rival Harrison under their belts, the fifth-seeded Garnets entered the Class A playoffs “with some fire” as Coach Curella put it.
Sadly, the fire was extinguished in their opening-round game against Eastchester. The number 10-seeded Eagles had to beat Gorton just to make it onto the field Saturday, October 23. Once there, though, they played Rye toe to toe in a scoreless draw that went into overtime. A deflection off a throw-in that hit a Garnet defender’s head the wrong way was all she wrote.
Afterwards, the coach was philosophical. “I don’t think anyone wants to end their season on an own goal. I thought we were the better team, especially during the OT — we were knocking at the door right from the start. It’s not an excuse, but injuries to Alec Jautz, Conor Dogan, and our captain Jon DiPalma…well, they were huge absences on defense.”
Still, this was a team that lost 13 seniors to graduation in 2014 — and a couple more to academy soccer — so the final Hudson Valley ranking they earned this year (10th) is all the more remarkable.
Rye Neck, seeded seventh in Class B, had a longer playoff run. And a pretty spectacular one. The Panthers, who stumbled out of the gate with a 2-5-1 record, turned their season around when co-coaches Frank Gizzo and Bryan Iacovelli made a pair of decisions: first, all-Section striker Luis Galeano switched places with midfielder Reed Peterson, putting Galeano’s ball possession skills where they could do the most good. Up top, Peterson wound up being the team’s leading scorer.
Their second move was to install sophomore Tom Bermingham as the full-time goalkeeper. Not only did he lead the team to a 7-0-1 record in their final eight games, he was the team’s MVP in their playoff run, a run started with a 5-1 rout of Albertus Magnus. Kol Lewis, Reed Peterson, Marco Andreoli, Peter Gallagher, and sweeper Will Galeano all scored. Bermingham had seven saves.
In the quarterfinals they were up against second-seeded Bronxville, the team the Panthers defeated in the 2014 final. Adopting a get-it-up-to-the-forwards-any-way-you-can tactic, the Black Cats scored at the end of the half when Donovan Dunning stuffed in a rebound of a Lewis shot. Lewis would score late in the game when, with the Broncos pressing on attack, he found himself all alone with the keeper just over midfield. A little deke and he walked the ball into the net.
In between, Rye Neck had to hold on for dear life. Bermingham made the save of his budding career when he stopped a short-range Harry Colvin blast with his thigh. “Those last five minutes were some of the longest of my life,” he said later.
Luis Galeano scored a remarkable goal in the final minute of the second overtime against third-seeded Edgemont to send the Panthers into the finals against Hastings at Arlington High on Halloween. The two teams had split games during the season, each winning at home. But on a neutral field, the Hornets won a dominating 4-0 victory.
Interviewed after the game, Coach Iacovelli said, “Hastings scored in the first few minutes and they ran with that momentum for the rest of the game. They scored twice off set pieces after drawing fouls. It’s not the way we wanted to end the season but, even so, we played our best soccer at the end of the season.”
Rye Country Day’s playoff run hadn’t even started by press time. The Wildcats entered the tournament undefeated in league play with an overall record of 8-4-1 that included shutouts of Hamden Hall, Hackley, and the French American School.
Collegiate’s is another scalp hanging from their collective belt. A Cole Price goal tied the game 1-1 on Wildcat Weekend, October 24. In the second half, senior captain David Townley netted a hustle goal, followed by a second Price tally off an indirect free kick.
They faced the United Nations International School in NYSAIS play November 4 on Randall’s Island.