Girls, down three stars, regroup; boys await North Salem

By Leigh Alan Klein

The girls’ soccer program at Haldane High School has been a standard for success, with six consecutive regional championships.

Teams gunning to end that streak: Putnam Valley, North Salem and Pawling.

Gone this season is Coach Gary Van Asselt and three Class C All-State players in Missy Lisikatos (Le Moyne), Alzy Cinquanta (SUNY Cortland) and Hannah Monteleone (Pace). The Blue Devils lost to defending state champions Port Jefferson in the regional finals.

Succeeding Van Asselt is Ed Crowe, who moves over from coaching the junior varsity boys’ team. He also has coached the modified girls’ team.

Sophomore Anna Rowe (26) races to midfield in the Blue Devils’ win over Briarcliff. (Photo by Scott Warren)

The team did not have enough girls to field both a junior varsity and varsity team, so it has a roster of 25, including a number of eighth-graders.

The keys to success lie with the defense and goalkeeping, Crowe said, to keep pace with a grueling schedule, with four games in seven days (including at Beacon on Sept. 22). The team plays with four midfielders and two strikers.

Key players, according to Crowe, include:

  • Allison Chiera: The senior has a powerful foot and is a magnet for the ball. In a 4-1 victory over Briarcliff, she dominated in the attack zone with two goals.
  • Jade Villella: As center defender, the sophomore plays one of the most important positions on the field for the Blue Devils. She does a great job positioning and clearing the ball, and her composure is impressive.
  • Kate Dwyer: The junior is an aggressive, vocal leader who manages the game from midfield.

The boys’ team

The boys’ team at Haldane is looking to improve on its 8-7-1 record last season, and the team to beat, says Coach Stephen Schweihart, is North Salem, the defending Class C state champions.

“We knocked them off twice during the regular season last year, 2-0 and 1-0,” he noted, which helped the Blue Devils win the league title with a 4-1-1 record. In the sectionals of the state tournament, North Salem got its revenge, scoring in the 100th minute to win, 1-0. (Despite the loss, Schweihart called it “one of the most unbelievable matches I have ever been associated with.”)

Cameron Palikuca (13) controls the ball for Haldane. (Photo by Scott Warren)

The coach says his team wants to be unpredictable this season by varying tempos to keep opponents off guard.

The team has 26 players, down from 30 last season. As with the girls’ team, Haldane did not have enough players to field a junior varsity squad.

“Our numbers have been down now for three years or so, but participation levels seem to be quite cyclical at Haldane,” Schweihart said. “Every three to five there is a drop, which is usually followed by a resurgence of similar length.”

Key players, according to Schweihart,  include:

  • Kyle Zimmermann. The senior co-captain plays multiple positions.
  • Cameron Palikuca. The senior co-captain is a vocal leader on defense. His speed will be critical.
  • Andre van Dommele (senior), Jason Chimbo (junior), Justin Villa (senior) and Henry Weed (junior) control the midfield.
  • Dan Rotando. The senior defender has one of the longest throw-ins in the area.
  • Hudson Gell. The senior needs to be one of the team’s lockdown defenders.
  • Aidan Siegel. The senior is new to the goalkeeper position.

Photos by Scott Warren

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.