The Beacon High School boys’ soccer team will begin a new season, and a new era (competing in Section IX, after moving from Section I) with its home opener at 7 p.m. today (Sept. 3) against John Jay of East Fishkill.
Last season, the Bulldogs won their fifth consecutive league title before upsetting John Jay of East Fishkill in the regional title game. The team finished 12-2.
Coach Craig Seaman lost some serious firepower from that team, including league MVP Warren Banks and 10 other seniors. The team also lost junior Derek Bilyeu, who transferred to Bronxville.
But Seaman believes the players who are returning — including six postseason honors winners — will still cause problems for opponents.
Leading the list are seniors Dillon Kelly, AJ Lucas, Chase Green, Alex Wyant, Tommy Franks, Miguel Ruiz and Kirk Dyer. The captains are Kelly, Lucas and Wyant.
The juniors are Andre Alzate, Gavin Ladue, Thomas Robinson, Jack Philipbar and Danny Urbanak. They are joined by senior Yahya Ouildane, junior Kevin Candia, sophomores Enis Dika and Liam Murphy, and freshman Avery Davis.
“AJ is one of, if not the best goalies in the area, and Kelly, Lucas, Franks, Ruiz and Dyer give us a strong core,” Seaman said.
The coach said the team is strongest in the middle. “From our keeper to our center-back to our strikers, we have a strong spine of four-year varsity players,” he said. “We’ll build around that. We’re hoping to compete for a league title, which will be new for us in Section IX. And, of course, we’d like to contend for a sectional title.”
The Class A division of Section I “is probably the most competitive class in the state,” Seaman said. “You have eight to 10 elite teams every year. In Section IX, there’s a smaller number of teams, fewer than 16, so it’s more manageable and gives you a better shot” at a title.
“We’ll see how it plays out,” he said. “We’re hoping it’s a good fit.”
Many of the Bulldogs played in, and won, the Goshen Summer League title. The competition included several top teams from Section IX, so the team carries some confidence into its new stomping grounds.
Beacon will travel to face Kingston on Wednesday (Sept. 8) and host Monticello at 4:15 p.m. on Sept. 10.
The Beacon girls’ team finished the 2020 season at 7-6 and won a playoff game as the No. 4 seed in the section before falling to the eventual champion, Arlington.
Now, the Bulldogs — who lost six players to graduation — will also make the move to Section IX. Coach Hugh Alzate has high hopes. Although the 2021 team has only two seniors, it is not short on experience.
“We return seven starters, because we started many eighth and ninth graders,” he said. “We have talent, but how talented is all relative, since we don’t know what to expect in Section IX.”
The Bulldogs return seniors Claire Derrenbacher and Maddie Bobnick; sophomores Chelsea DerBoghossion, Devyn Kelly, Emma Campagiorni and Olivia Del Castillo; and freshman Reilly Landisi (forward). Derrenbacher and Bobnick will again be captains.
“Maddie is our field general and playmaker, while Claire is the workhorse who does all of the intangibles,” Seaman said. “If Maddie reads and creates while Claire creates openings and makes runs, our team usually plays well.”
Juniors Lindsay Otero and Hope Cleveringa; sophomores Sara Gonzalez, Kasey Senior, Gabby Kuka, Isabella Migliore and Grace Delgado; and freshman Rory LaDue also return. Juniors Kaila Ramdeen and Moa Lopez, sophomore Abir Ahmed and freshmen Sevana West and Noelle Haase are new to the team.
Seaman noted that his top three scorers — DerBoghossion, Landisi and Kelly — all return. “Chelsea is a matchup nightmare for defenses; Reilly is good at creating space for herself or teammates and Devyn is our most technically sound player,” he said. “I expect at least one to have a breakout year.”
Beacon’s new league includes Washingtonville, Minisink, Goshen, Cornwall, Monticello and Port Jervis. “If the ball bounces the right way, we’re hoping to end the regular season in the top half of our league and earn a playoff berth,” he said.
The team is also happy about the removal of COVID-19 protocols from the outdoor game. “Being able to play without masks is big,” Alzate said. “I strongly feel last season our team was hurt by the 20-minute mask break in particular. It killed our momentum in several games, and allowed opponents to regroup. I’m also ecstatic that we will no longer have to limit roster sizes, and about the return of spectators.”
Beacon is scheduled to open its season at 4:30 p.m. today (Sept. 3) hosting Kingston. It will host Monticello on Thursday (Sept. 9) in its first league game.