SOMERS, N.Y.— It was a special night at Somers High School in an event that North Salem coach Ron Hendrie said “may be once in a lifetime.”
Four 2016 boys soccer state champions from Section 1 gathered for two games in what was dubbed the “Night of Champions.” North Salem, which won the Class C state title last season, faced off with defending Class B champion Hastings.
The Tigers defeated the Yellow Jackets in decisive 3-0 fashion on Sunday, Oct. 1.
“It’s really cool,” junior captain Luke Devey said of being able to play Hastings and be a part of an event with four state champs. “Winning states last year was a lot of fun. We have a lot of pressure this year because we kind of have a target on our back. Everyone wants to beat us.”
Devey headed a free kick from senior Anthony D’Innocenzo to senior Frankie DiGiacomo, who finished with just under 10 minutes left in the first half to put North Salem up 1-0.
“They have a really good All-American defender. I just used my body and got low, said DiGiacomo, who finished with two goals. “I took a touch because I saw the goalie was a little off his line and just slotted it in the bottom right.”
The senior midfielder netted his second goal with 24:04 left in the second half on a counterattack. Mark Ribaudo sent the long pass, it deflected off a Hastings defender to the feet of DiGiacomo, who pushed the pace and finished in the bottom left corner.
“They were a really good team,” Devey said of Hastings. “They were well coached and had a lot of skill. We just had a lot of heart and played really hard.”
Hendrie said that DiGiacomo and senior Devyn Sheth combined very well.
“A lot of guys did,” Hendrie said. “Will (Feniger), Mark and Kirby (Trageser) played fantastic. Mike Bossi played exceptionally well. Everyone knew that tonight they had to be on top of their game.”
Dylan Monaghan added an insurance goal when he blasted one into the left corner on a feed from Devey with 16 minutes left. Feniger crossed the ball to Devey to set up the goal.
Hastings controlled possession for large portions of the game, but was unable to get off shots against a stout Tiger defense.
“That was kind of the goal,” Hendrie said of limiting the Yellow Jackets’ shots. “They’re a team that can possess it well and are highly skilled. They’ve got good field vision and good communication—excellent shape. You have to pick your battles and we knew we probably wouldn’t be able to win that one (possession). We kept our composure and it worked out.”
The Yellow Jackets’ best chance came early in the second half when they launched a free kick. Goalie James Buzzetto ranged to his right to make the save. Then Devey cleared away a corner kick shortly thereafter.
North Salem defeated host Pawling 3-0 Sept. 28 behind two goals and an assist from Monaghan. Adrian Figueroa (1G), Devey (1A), Trageser (1A), Zach Cotter (1A) and Aeneas Eaton (1A) chipped in.
The Tigers also topped Putnam Valley 4-0 Sept. 26 behind two goals and an assist from Monaghan. DiGiacomo had a goal and an assist, while Chase Littenberg (1G), Cody Doherty (1A) and Buzzetto (five saves) also contributed.
On Oct. 2, they tied Keio Academy 1-1 with Aidan Healy netting the lone goal and DiGiacomo recording the assist.
North Salem (7-1-1) graduated many key players from last year’s state championship team but that hasn’t affected the team chemistry so far.
“We lost some very valuable players (to graduation),” Hendrie said. “The younger guys moving up this year, they really stepped it up. They’ve got a great attitude and a great work ethic. It’s a phenomenal group—back-to-back really. Last year was one of the most enjoyable teams of all time. I’m fortunate to have a lot of those guys returning and they brought their good attitude with them.”
The Tigers were moved up to Class B for the playoffs this season due to an increase in enrollment, so they could see Hastings again down the line.
“I think we have a really good team this year and we’ll be really strong in our section,” DiGiacomo said. “I don’t want to say anything just yet, but it’s looking good.”