YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. - Yorktown’s boys soccer squad will look to build on a season where it finished 12-5-1 last fall and lost to Ossining 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the Section 1 Class AA tournament.
“We gave up two goals in the last five minutes, and it was a heartbreaking loss,” Yorktown assistant coach Justin Huff said.
The last three years, including 2015 in Class AA and 2014 in Class A, when the Huskers made it to the title game both years, have been very successful.
“We’ve been successful to a certain point, but are yet to clear the last hurdle,” Huff said. “My first two years as the assistant we were able to sneak up on a lot of teams in the playoffs. We didn’t have an amazing regular season either year, but grinding it out, it made us postseason-ready both times. It was last year when we had the target on our backs that we lost that competitive edge. In order to be successful again, we must get back to the basics, starting with having a high work rate every single day.”
Huff said that the Huskers could potentially return 20 players and because of that, it is incredibly hard to single out a few guys.
There are a few at the outset, however, that Yorktown will be relying on as it goes into this season, including Ankit Patel, who will be playing a central midfield role or forward.
“A name people in the area will become familiar with is senior captain Ankit Patel, who has tremendous skill and a high work rate,” Huff said. “Another key player will be another senior captain, goalkeeper Mauricio Arango. He is an outstanding leader, always setting a great example for his teammates through his actions and words.”
Four other Huskers along with the captains will play key roles as well.
“Sergio Spiniello is an outstanding junior, who will be transitioning to a defensive spot this year,” Huff said. “Rocky Bujaj is another junior who will be giving us big minutes on the back line. Sophomore Tim O’Callaghan will provide more offensive spark for us along with senior forward Alex Kaczor, who missed last year due to a knee injury.”
Because of Yorktown’s high amount of returning players and number of kids coming out for tryouts, Huff said it’s tough at this point to say what newcomers could make an impact.
“We have a handful of underclassmen who can make an impact if they earn a spot on the team,” Huff said.
As for team goals, it depends on who you ask.
“My players will tell you it’s to win states, but I look at the smaller, day-to-day picture,” Huff said. “We need to be focused on playing to the best of our ability every time we step onto the field. If we learn how to work harder each day and never settle we will be a dangerous team come October. So essentially, we must remain focused, hungry and willing to work every day.”
Huff, who is in his fourth season as an assistant coach and Ed Polchinski, who enters his 10th season as head coach, have developed a great chemistry that has helped make the Huskers one of the best programs in Section 1.
“I had the honor of playing for Ed my senior season in 2008, and I think it gave me great insight as to what Ed expects from the team,” Huff said. “That understanding has helped me deliver that message to the players in an effective manner. You will be hard pressed to find a more dedicated man than Ed and he makes it easy to work with him because his passion and love for his players is palpable.”
Yorktown is scheduled to open the season when it hosts Mahopac at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5.