SOMERS, N.Y. – It isn’t easy to beat a strong team three times, but Somers’ boys soccer team made it look easy.
The relentless Tuskers played fast from the start and scored early and often to cruise to a 7-1 victory over sixth-seeded Yorktown in the Section 1 Class A quarterfinals on Saturday, Oct. 26.
“Honestly, man, I’m actually in a state of shock,” said Somers coach Brian Lanzetta after the win. “I just feel like my guys are so focused and we never really get a chance to play Yorktown at home. This rivalry means a lot to these guys but I’ve got seven seniors that are legit who I think were overlooked due to some of seniors last year. We do a really good job outside of our district in our program with FC, training guys year round and working with them. I think them jelling together just shows on the field. The work ethic and work rate that the boys have is I think what separates us from other players. We’re not used to losing and they don’t want to lose. That’s what it comes down to. They’re just going to fight and claw.”
Ethan Cukaj gave third-seeded Somers a quick 1-0 lead with 34:17 left in the first half.
It was 2-0 before you could blink when Bennett Leitner crossed it to Drew Lasher, who finished just 34 seconds later.
“Today it was all about working hard and getting those first few in,” Lasher said. “Getting that advantage of going up and just keep pounding it. The more the merrier. We didn’t want them to get any early goals.”
Evan Mazzola ripped a shot and Leitner pounced on the rebound not long after that to make it 3-0. It was Somers’ third goal in the first 12 minutes.
“Honestly, coach Lanzetta told us in the locker room that we’ve got to come out and we’ve got to strike first,” Leitner said. “Striking first is the most important in sectionals because once you strike first, the other team has to play catch up. When we struck first, we didn’t look back.”
Yorktown responded with a goal from Tim O’Callaghan on a penalty kick to trim the lead to 3-1 midway through the first half.
But the Tuskers countered when Leitner deposited the ball in the top right shelf with seven minutes left. Somers took the 4-1 lead into halftime.
“It was very important; we respect these guys a lot,” Leitner said when asked about quickly answering Yorktown’s goal. “One goal can change the whole entire game. We knew after they scored and we knew from the beginning, even after we put in three goals, that they were coming right back for us. We needed to finish them the whole 80 minute game and that’s what we did.”
Leitner capped off a hat trick after finishing on a Mazzola free kick with 33:39 left in the second half.
“I feel like Bennett is on another level,” Lanzetta said. “He’s playing amazing soccer. He has the soccer IQ and makes the right runs. He uses his off-ball movement, trapping and passing that puts him ahead.”
Zane Bramson and Daniel D’Ippolito added goals for the Tuskers, who improved to 16-1.
Anthony Tucci made two saves in net for Somers.
Somers was scheduled to travel to second-seeded Pearl River for the semifinals on Oct. 30.
“It’s just staying focused and staying locked in on the goal ahead,” Leitner said. “The goal is to win the section championship so this game’s over and it’s an amazing feeling, but honestly it means nothing to us right now. We’re looking forward to continuing this and moving on to the next game.”
Somers 3, Lourdes 1
Leitner tallied two goals in a 3-1 win over visiting Our Lady of Lourdes in the opening round on Oct. 24.
Lasher netted one goal. Mazzola, D’Ippolito and Cukaj had one assist apiece.