YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y.— The first round of a sectional playoff is always intense but that intensity goes up another notch when the game involves neighboring rivals.
Those two rivals were visiting No. 13-seeded Mahopac and No. 4 Yorktown in the opening round of the Section 1 Class AA boys soccer tournament on Oct. 20.
Yorktown earned the bragging rights and advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory against the Indians.
“We beat them once in the season but we absolutely did not underestimate them—we came out 100 percent,” Yorktown senior Besim Bucpapa said. “And beating your neighbor is always good, especially in a sectional matchup.”
Bucpapa put the Huskers out in front 5:29 into the game when he received a nice pass right in front of the goal from a streaking Timmy O’Callaghan and put it home.
“It felt great to score that goal,” Bucpapa said. “He found me one-on-one with the goalie, just played it across the goal line and put it in, doing my job. It was just nice to get the goal and win the game.”
Yorktown dominated most of the possession in the opening half and it could’ve even been up by more but the first meeting of the season gave Mahopac an idea of what to look for in this sectional matchup.
“We knew they were going to live off the counter,” Mahopac coach Jim Gencarelli said. “We played them earlier in the year. They countered us a lot so we knew that going in. That’s how they scored their first goal. We were just a little out of position, a little miscommunication between our defender and our midfielder. No one stepped to the ball.”
Mahopac had a chance to tie it in the second half at the 51-minute mark when senior captain Max Lichtman’s shot was nicely deflected by Yorktown goalie Mauricio Arango before it could go in the goal.
It was plays like that by Arango, who made 13 stellar saves, that enabled the Huskers to keep Mahopac off the scoreboard.
“He’s been doing that all season,” Bucpapa said. “All year he’s been saving us, helping us win every single game. He’s our focal point, he’s our captain, he’s our voice in the locker room. That’s what he does, he saves us.”
Mahopac began to apply more pressure in the second half, making Arango even more important to the Huskers’ efforts. Unfortunately for the Indians, one of their key offensive players, junior Niko DeCola, was given a red card with 22 minutes left in the game.
A goal by Joey Carbone, assisted by Nick Maratos, late in the contest in traffic, sealed the win for Yorktown.
“The second goal was big, especially because they were playing a man down unfortunately,” Yorktown coach Ed Polchinski said. “I thought that it was very important to get that first goal, right on top early in the game. It released some of the pressure, our boys relaxed a little bit more.”
Yorktown (12-4-1) ended its regular season with a 4-1 loss at Scarsdale on Oct. 16 with a goal by Ankit Patel, off an assist by O’Callaghan. James D’Alessio made seven saves for the Huskers.