Local soccer clubs head to sectionals

By John Bernhardt
All aboard! The Section IV soccer playoff train is ready to depart. For the first time in memory, all four local high school soccer teams will be making the trip. Both the girls’ and boys’ teams from Margaretville and Roxbury will begin their quest for a Section IV soccer championship this week.
Girls’ open round action took place last night with results reported too late to be included in this week’s edition. The guys kick off their sectional campaigns at 3:30 p.m. after school today. First round winners will advance to the quarterfinals with games scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Here’s a glimpse of our teams and how they might stack up in post season play.

Roxbury Boys
Roxbury(7-5-1) travels to Stamford (9-6) today to take on the Indians. The 10th seeded Rockets toppled the seventh seeded Indians during the regular season.

After a short midseason slide Roxbury ended the regular season on a high note. In their final game, Roxbury won a hard fought 3-2 overtime decision over Upper Division Champion Davenport on the Wildcats’ home field.

Senior midfielder Kyle Ciaravino is hot. Ciaravino ripped the nets five times in the Rockets final two games. Ciaravino’s newly found scoring touch added to the breakout front line speed of Dan Menne and Spencer Hinkley provide the Rockets with potent offensive weapons.

Yet, Roxbury’s chance to advance will depend on their defense. In sectional play there’s a tendency for the nets to shrink with goal production often falling below levels realized during the regular season. The Rockets need a steely effort on the defensive side of the field. A trio of Rocket junior defenders, goalie Derek Cowan, Dakota Corona, and Nick Hamil are key cogs in the Rockets’ defensive wheel.

Margaretville Boys
One of the hottest boys’ Class D teams in Section IV is Margaretville. No other team faced the early season obstacles of Margaretville. Tropical Storm Irene devastated the Margaretville soccer fields, the Blue Devils lost nearly 10 days of pre-season practice and played almost all of their regular season on the road.

Margaretville was more than shaky as their soccer campaign began. The Blue Devils lost their first three games and didn’t look good doing it. But, Coach Jeremy Marks made some position adjustments, and the Blue Devils took off.

Running up a 9-2-1 record since their early season meltdown, Margaretville could be this year’s Class D sleeper. The Blue Devils get consistent offensive production from a senior trio that includes Ian Williams, a first team Delaware League All-Star, Peter Cella and Iso Dedric.

Like Roxbury, for the Blue Devils to advance, they must get solid play from their defense. In games against high level competition this fall, it’s been rare for the Blue Devils to score more than two goals. That provides the defense little room for error in the post season.

But, the Blue Devils’ defense has improved steadily throughout the season. Mitch Hull, a second team all-star, is a quality and experienced goalie, a plus in tournament play. Sean Gaunt, another second team all-star, makes good coverage decisions. James Warner is lightning quick at one fullback. Adam VanValkenburg has a strong left foot on the opposite side of the field, and Victor Mendoza has turned in a string of consistent defensive efforts.

The sixth seeded Blue Devils (9-5-1) host 11th seeded Gilbertsville Mount-Upton today.

Margaretville Girls
The Margaretville girls’ soccer team is a mystery. The Lady Blue Devils, too, faced early season disruptions and challenges related to the flood. But, Margaretville got their season off with a bang, going 2-1-1 in their first four games and winning the championship of the Downsville Tournament.
Yet, the Blue Devils struggle maintaining focus and intensity. On game day, you never really know what Margaretville team will show up. The Blue Devils are seeded 11th but often play like a team with a much higher seed. Margaretville has taken six games into overtime this year. The Blue Devils often battle the best teams on their schedule to the finish with spirited competitive efforts, then under perform against teams of lesser standing.

Margaretville has an explosive offensive trio in Tess Svoboda, a first team all-star, Amy Filupiet, a second team all-star, and Elia Tanzer, a fast-footed freshman with a nose for the goal. All three strikers can manufacture goals, and no other Delaware League team has more balanced offensive weapons.

The Blue Devils opened their sectional assault in Downsville last night. On Saturday, Downsville, the Mountain Division Champions, won a share of the Delaware League crown playing Davenport to a scoreless tie. The Blue Devils faced Downsville twice during the regular season, toppling the Eagles, 3-1, in the title game of Downsville’s tournament then dropping a 3-2 overtime decision on their own field later in the year.

Roxbury Girls
The feel good soccer story on the local sports scene this fall is the Roxbury Rockets girls’ soccer team. The Rockets have mixed together on the field playing skills, a great team chemistry, and a hearty helping of determination and resolve to reach the Section IV playoffs for the first time in many years.

The Rockets began the season slowly, got things turned around by the middle of the year, and roared down the stretch. The Rockets carried a five-game winning streak into their final two games of the regular season. The Rockets took Upper Division Champion Davenport into overtime before losing, then came back from a two-goal deficit to upset Stamford and deny the Indians a share of the Upper Division crown.

Led by senior sweeper Brittney Keator and midfielder Chrisina Chiarappa, the Rockets are a defensive machine. And, Roxbury gets good offensive production from Bailey O’Donnell, Kennedy Faraci, and Chloe O’Shaughnassy.

The Rockets (7-4-2) traveled to Schenevus (10-4-2) to face the seventh seeds yesterday.