By Skip Pearlman
Leading Scorer Gone, But Beacon Regroups
Last year’s Beacon High School squad finished 9-5-2 and earned the No. 8 seed in the Class A sectional tournament but fell to Horace Greeley in the opening round.
Beacon this year will play without its leading scorer, All-Section center-mid Eliza Erickson, who graduated. The Bulldogs also lost All-Section keeper Meagan Meeuwisse and defender Anna Manente to graduation.
However, the squad has eight starters returning, including three All-League selections: Analiese Compagnone, Maddie Bobnick and Kaitlyn Rosa. The others are junior fullback Gabby Del Castillo, junior midfielder Ashley Casserly, senior midfielder Emelie Lenaburg, junior midfielder Jessica Spadafino and senior defender Samantha McDowell.
“I’m looking for a lot of senior leadership,” said Coach Hugo Alzate, in his fifth season leading the Bulldogs. “We’ll go as far as they take us.”
He noted that the team would be implementing a new system and formation. “We want to dictate pace and shut down other teams,” he said. “We’re younger than last year, but we have some veteran seniors. There will be a small learning curve — we’re learning to play together.”
Beacon has two eighth-graders — forward Chelsea DerBoghossian and defender Devyn Kelly — whom Alzate believes can make an impact. “Both have played a high level of travel soccer and are well ahead of their age in terms of skill and ability,” he said.
The Bulldogs tied for first place in the league — which includes Lourdes, Hendrick Hudson, Poughkeepsie and Peekskill — last season, and Alzate wants to win it outright this fall.
“Hen Hud returns a lot, and they are always tough, but if things go well and we learn the system and work together as a unit, we can do something by the end of the season,” he said. “We’ve never won a game in the Class A playoffs but we’re hoping to break that streak.”
Beacon is scheduled to open its season on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at John Jay Cross River, which won the Section 1 title last season. The Bulldogs host Pelham in their home opener at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6.
Haldane Set to Defend Regional Title
The Haldane High School team is coming off a season in which it finished at 9-10-1 but still reached the Final Four of the state Class C tournament before falling to eventual champion Stillwater.
With six starters back on the field, Coach Steve Schweikhart — who returns to the role this year after coaching both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Haldane in the past — believes the team has potential.
“The returning starters will all play a huge role,” said Schweikhart, who is assisted by Cali Schweikhart and Mary Callaghan, who both played on the Haldane team that reached the state title game in 2013. “They have proven themselves as quality players and great examples for the younger players. I couldn’t ask for a better group.”
The returning starters are senior goalkeeper Abigail Platt, senior All-State midfielder Jade Villella (who plans to play next year for the University of Massachusetts Boston), senior defender Allie Ferriera, senior midfielder Bela Monteleone, senior midfielder Anna Rowe and sophomore defender Ella Ashburn.
The team lost five seniors to graduation — Julia Rotando, Maura Kane-Seitz, Kate Dwyer, Jamie Calimano and Kaitlyn Pidala — along with freshman Lily Westerhuis, who moved.
But the Blue Devils welcome a trio of freshmen — Liv Villella, Sara Ferriera and Chloe Rowe, all younger sisters of senior starters — whom the coach believes can have immediate impact. “They know the game well, have great technical ability and high work rate,” Schweikhart said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun watching them grow as the season progresses.”
The Blue Devils are scheduled to open their season on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Valhalla. The home opener is Sept. 11 against Briarcliff. Their league includes North Salem, Pawling and Putnam Valley.
“On paper we have a lot of potential,” Schweikhart said. “The talent is there, and the chemistry seems great at this point. It will be up to the coaches to get the girls ready for the challenges of a difficult schedule, and the pressures associated with the postseason. But from what I’ve seen the first week and a half of practice, the team is going to battle each and every game, and hopefully that will serve us well come October and November.”