By Mike Zummo
The last season was a shortened affair played under a condensed schedule with a lot of soccer being played in a short period of time.
It ended with the Valley Central girls’ soccer team sitting atop the Section 9 Class AA championship mountain.
In the first year under coach Jon Walsh, the Vikings were unbeaten, running a 10-0-1 record, and knocking off perennial power, Monroe-Woodbury, in Montgomery to win their title.
Now, in a more conventional soccer season, the Vikings are looking to chase the championship once again. If they win this year, they’ll advance into the state tournament, which was canceled in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They’ll have to do it without a lot of the talent that led them there. Gone are Grace Palczewski, Madeline Feller, Nikki Schmidt, Emma Rechtorovic, Kiera Ford, Ava Stahl, Deanna Murdock, Giulia Satriano, Julia Baisley, Hannah Gorton and Sydney Seymore.
But there is talent returning in Olivia Watson, Mackenzie Delmonico, Sophia Stahl, Marley Peterson and Olivia Welcome. They’ll mix with newcomers Grace Suchy, Grace Del Pilar and Jenna O’Connor.
“We are very excited to be able to play this fall,” Walsh said. “We are looking forward to developing our team over the course of the season and compete for a section championship.”
The fall season was a rough one for Pine Bush, which struggled through the Fall 2 season and ended with a 1-8 record. Their only victory was a 3-0 victory over Middletown late in the season.
Pine Bush fielded a young squad last season and lost only two players – Bayleigh Ardito and Elexis Smykla – to graduation.
The rest of the team was made up of juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
Late in the season as Pine Bush’s playoff hopes disappeared, coach Dan Conley’s focus became more on trying kids in different positions as they tuned up for the upcoming season.
Coach Kerry Wood returns for his second season as coach of the Wallkill Panthers, looking to improve on his team’s 5-1-3 record from last year, as the Panthers play a full Mid Hudson Athletic League season this fall.
During the spring season, the Panthers reached the Section 9 Class A semifinals, where they suffered a 4-1 loss to stop seeded Red Hook. This year, the Panthers look to compete for the MHAL title and get as far as they can in the sectional tournament.
The Panthers will return top scorer Lainey Flanagan, but will lose some top talent in Ro Miller, Ali DeGroodt, Taylor Flanagan, Dominique Naparano and goalkeeper Nora Serrao.
In addition to Flanagan, also back is the Panthers’ other goalkeeper Madelyn Jachimiak, Lila Rydell, Cleo Levesque, Amy Crowley and Grace Winchell.
Joining the team this year are Emma Dilemme, Mayaha Simon and Brianna Merril.
“I’m excited to begin with a great group of committed players,” Wood said. “I’m looking forward to competing at our maximum ability.”