YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y.— It’s been quite a ride for the Yorktown boys soccer squad, which made it to the Section 1 Class AA finals as the No. 7 seed, losing to top-seeded Arlington 1-0 to finish 11-5-4 in 2015 after making it to the Class A finals a year earlier.
Yorktown assistant coach Justin Huff said the reason for the Huskers’ success starts with the kids, who he said have put forth an incredible effort and belief the last two seasons.
“I believe that we were able to maintain belief in our potential no matter how bleak things looked, and we took advantage of teams overlooking us,” Huff said. “We all bought into the same idea, and grew stronger with each game. Unfortunately we’ve come up just short recently, but I believe it simply prepared us for this upcoming season.”
Yorktown has 17 players returning for this season, including four key players offensively.
One of them is senior captain and midfielder/forward Joey Landicino, who is one of the most offensively skilled players in the section when he’s clicking.
“He will provide hold-up play and give us a dynamic weapon up top,” Huff said.
Enzo Sangiacomo is another returning senior captain who is also a midfielder/forward.
“A magician when the ball is at his feet, we will depend on him a lot to create chances and open up play,” Huff said. “He has the type of talent to score 15-plus goals.”
Senior midfielder Ryan O’Leary is a very strong technical player who didn’t play as much last year because of a surplus of strength at his position, but the Huskers are expecting a bigger role for him this year, Huff said.
Sean Boyle provided great skill and safety on the flanks last year.
“As a junior this year, he will look to take advantage of an expanded role,” Huff said. “He is aggressive on the ball, and tremendous at closing down space.”
Defensively, one of the Huskers’ four key returning players is Adam Romanski, a senior captain who is a defender/midfielder.
“He is a versatile player, who can play on the backline or in the center of the pitch for us,” Huff said. “He will be an anchor in the center of our team.”
Senior defender Matt Pados is a returning starter who is as dependable as it gets on the back line, a great defender who has a strong leg, which allows him to switch the direction of play often.
Another key returning starter is senior Sam Arno, who is very strong on the ball.
“He always plays hard and makes it difficult for attackers to turn or take space,” Huff said.
Junior Ankit Patel will also be expected to contribute defensively.
“He put together a very strong year for us last year, despite only being a sophomore,” Huff said. “He will be called upon for even more this year, and has the foot skills to do it.”
Huff said the Huskers’ goal is to end the season with a win.
“As painful and agonizing as the finishes of the last two seasons have been, the experiences have built a sense of maturity and belief that many teams don’t have,” Huff said. “If we all buy into the same thing this year, we will undoubtedly end up where we deserve to be.”
Yorktown is led by ninth-year head coach Ed Polchinski and Huff, who is in third year as an assistant.
“My senior year, in 2008, was when Ed first became head coach, and I believe that’s helped us work so well together,” Huff said. “Ed and I have a great understanding of each other. We complement each other, and our strengths and weaknesses balance out.”
Yorktown opens the season in its own tournament at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7 against Arlington B.