SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers’ boys soccer team graduated 10 seniors from a squad that reached the Section 1 Class A championship game last season. The Tuskers, who fell to Rye, 3-2, in the finals, return key pieces for a 2020 season that is unusual, to say the least.

COVID-19 has altered the landscape for teams in Section 1. There will be no state championships this season, but the Tuskers will have their eyes set on another Class A section title. Somers won a section and state title back in 2016 in Lanzetta’s first season. The Tuskers were upset in the quarterfinals the following season but won another section crown in 2018.

Practices didn’t begin until Sept. 29 and the Tuskers’ first contest, which was scheduled for Oct. 10 against Lakeland, was postponed due to neither team having the minimum number of practices required.

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“Our team is very much a big family and COVID-19 has changed the way in which we celebrate, encourage and even greet one another,” said Somers coach Brian Lanzetta, who enters his fifth season with the Tuskers. “We have had to adapt to this new norm all while keeping everyone’s health and safety at the forefront. I think my players have done an amazing job at this and we are stronger than ever.”

Derek Marques, a senior captain, will be the Tuskers’ starting center back and will be counted on to lock down the defense.

“He just committed to SUNY Oneonta men’s soccer, which is an excellent soccer program,” Lanzetta said. “Derek has all the tools necessary to be [a LoHud] Elite 11 player: the size, the skill and the passion. He’s been a four-year varsity player and will be missed after this year.”

Bennett Leitner, a junior, is a lightning-fast midfielder who can score goals in bunches. Leitner led the Tuskers with 20 goals last season.

“I do not place expectations on my players but when all is said and done, I hope that Bennett feels good and confident about his performance and athleticism this year,” Lanzetta said. “If I was playing against him, I wouldn’t want to guard him.”

Jake Riina, a junior, will join Marques in leading the Tuskers’ defense.

Sophomore Anthony Tucci will start in net after seeing plenty of time as a freshman.

“I feel like he will be a top goalie in the section this year,” Lanzetta said.

Zane Bramson and Oscar Szutkowski, both midfielders, will take on larger roles during their senior campaigns.

Daniel D’Ippolito and Michael Micceri are two junior midfielders who Lanzetta thinks can have breakout seasons. D’Ippolito was crucial during the Tuskers’ 2019 playoff run, netting four critical goals.

Two football players, junior Aedan Hopper and senior Alex Cabo, will be joining the team after football season was moved to March. Lanzetta has high hopes for the duo.

“I feel they will make a huge positive impact on the season,” Lanzetta said.

Somers opens the season when it travels to Walter Panas for a league contest at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14. The Tuskers then welcome league rival Yorktown for a 5 p.m. contest on Friday, Oct. 16.

“Our goal as a team this season is to remain strong and united in the midst of all of the changes we are currently facing during the pandemic,” Lanzetta said. “Health, safety and performing at our best are our top priorities.”