By Mike Zummo
The last season was a strange one.
Even though not considered a higher-risk sport by the New York State Dept. of Health, Section 9 opted to move the sport to the Fall 2 season that was played in March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season was short, and highly condensed, and in a textbook display of peaking at the best time, the Pine Bush boys’ soccer team – after losing two previous contests – beat the Newburgh Free Academy Goldbacks in the Section 9 Class AA semifinals, and then took the Monroe-Woodbury Crusaders to penalty strokes, where the Bushmen ultimate fell in a game coach Marc Gittleman called a “heartbreaking result” but a “good night of soccer”.
Even their win over Newburgh was in overtime.
If the Bushmen are going to match last year’s success, they’re going to have to replace the offensive output of
Michael Dempsey and replace Jack Bisaillon in the goal.
Overall, the Bushmen lost 10 seniors from last year’s section finalist team.
This season they’ll enter a season that’s looking more normal than last year’s Fall 2 season, as all sectional qualifiers will play in the tournament, and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association has restored the state tournament.
The Valley Central Vikings are looking to be much more offensive minded from last year’s 1-6-1 team this season under coach Paul Berkowitz, who is in his 24th year at the helm
The Vikings have lost Luciana Chavarria, Alex Ramos, Juwan Yussif and Mark Weinstein, and Alex Mendez to graduation.
However, they will return sophomore goalkeeper Maddox Rivera, who impressed last year during his first year in the net. Also back are defenseman Dominic Ciano, forward Aidan Garrison, midfielder Connor Swart and defender Bryan Arroyo.
They will mix with newcomer Justin Dorner.
“We lost some talented players, but with many returning starters, all of which have worked hard on improving, this season is highly anticipated,” Berkowitz said. “With an excellent goalkeeper and central defense, if we can find the back of the net, we may be a surprise this season.”
Despite a 7-4-1 record, the Wallkill Panthers found themselves shut out of the Section 9 Class A bracket when the tournament didn’t take as many teams as normal.
This year, all qualifying teams will play in sectionals.
The Panthers have lost a lot, including Chad Castle, Tyler Tucker, Adrian Bartlett, Marcus DeCouer, James Albanese, Nicholas Guerra, Gavin Roberts, Mitchell Albrechtson and Miguel Trujillo, but the Panthers return a strong core that second-year coach Christopher Valencia hopes can win the Mid Hudson League finals and the Section 9 Class A finals.
The Panthers will return Brandon Ortiz, Dominic Pelella, Eric Vargas, Trevor Jones, Nicolas Dilemme, Carson Frisbie, Anthony Carvalho and Salvatore Berdone. They will mix with newcomers Renzo Scanu, Edward Vargas and Luke Diemoz.
“This year’s team will be well equipped to have success,” Valencia said. “One key factor will be their ability to win ‘togetherness’, a term coined by the team as chemistry.”