On Oct. 24, Rye Neck’s soccer team took its first step toward the Class B section crown with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Croton Harmon. Although the Panthers’ performance might not have resulted in the decisive victory many would have predicted, the No. 1-seeded Rye Neck club is still one of the heavy favorites in the postseason.
John Casas’ first-half goal was the game’s only score, as the Panthers’ defense clamped down on the Tigers to pitch a shutout on the afternoon. According to co-head coach Bryan Iacovelli, the Panthers feel comfortable in low-scoring games, given a tough regular season schedule, though he would have liked to see the team capitalize on a few more offensive end chances.
“Obviously we’d love to score more goals, although we were used to playing in 1-0 games,” he said. “Our league schedule was tough this year, with teams like Blind Brook, Keio, Edgemont and Bronxville, and we played some bigger schools, too, so we were definitely ready for the challenge.”
Goalkeeper Tom Bermingham made five stops on the afternoon to maintain a clean sheet against the Tigers, but Iacovelli said that his team will have an even tougher test in the semis, when they host No. 4 seed Blind Brook on Oct. 26, after press time.
Blind Brook earned a 1-0 first-round win over Valhalla on the strength of a Jon Souza goal and will be upset-minded when they head to Rye Neck on Wednesday afternoon.
The Trojans and the Panthers split the regular season series, with Rye Neck winning one game 1-0 and dropping the second 2-1.
“They’re a good program, and they’re solid all the way around,” Iacovelli said. “They’ve got a solid player in the midfield that we’ve got to keep an eye on, and we’ve played two tight, evenly matched games.”
The winner of the tilt will take on the winner of No. 2 Hastings and No. 3 Bronxville for the Section I title on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Lakeland High School.
Iacovelli hopes to see a better offensive effort against the Trojans and believes that the Panthers’ first-round win will be something of an eye-opener for the top-seeded club if it hopes to come away with a title this year.
“We had a lot of opportunities [against Croton], but once the second half started, I think we relaxed with the lead,” he said. “I’d like to see us score a lot more goals, because we’re not going to be able to do that going forward.”