CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. — The 10th annual Lakeland Boys Summer Soccer League began in fine fashion for Yorktown as the Huskers defeated Byram Hills 1-0 on a goal by rising senior midfielder Ankit Patel, assisted by Joey Carbone, with 9:18 left in the second half at Walter Panas High School on June 18.

“We played a great game—we tried really hard,” Patel said. “It’s the beginning of summer league so we are trying to play well. It felt good to score the first goal of the summer season.”

Husker coach Ed Polchinski was pleased with his team’s effort against the always tough Bobcats, who were backed up by four saves from Mauricio Arango.

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“I felt that they played fairly well, first time out all year even though we have been having a couple of captains’ practices,” Polchinski said. “I like what I saw. We still have to do a little bit of adjustments. Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way they played.”

Patel and his teammates are hoping that the work they put into the summer will result in another successful season on the pitch in the fall when the games count.

“We want to play as a team,” Patel said. “Hopefully, we can go to the sectionals and win it.”

Summer league is always important but this year it’s even more important for the Huskers.

“This year is going to be totally different than it’s been for the last two years where we had a couple of really impact players that we depended on,” Polchinski said. “This year we are going to be more of a committed unit, where we are going to play more as a team than just depending on one person. I feel very confident with the guys we have. We have a strong bench and strong players out on the field so hopefully they’ll all buy into the system. That is what’s going to make a good run for us hopefully.”

The Huskers, Bobcats, Somers, Valhalla, Walter Panas, Mahopac, Lakeland and Briarcliff have the opportunity to work on their games thanks to Lakeland coach Tim Hourahan.

Hourahan started the league, which is being held at sister school Panas for the second time because of construction at Lakeland.

“We have great coaches in the league who do a great job with their programs,” Hourahan said. “It’s just become a culture in these soccer teams that in June and July we are going to play two nights a week and compete. I set it up but really it’s the other coaches who organize their teams and can get 20 guys per high school to come and play. It’s a credit to them.”

Hourahan said his team has a lot to work on as things are different from last summer.

“We had 14 seniors on the roster last year, with 13 of them being two-year players or three-year players,” Hourahan said. “A lot of new faces, a lot of young guys, so it’s an exciting time for me to try to figure out how to move all these kids who played JV last year into different spots. I work with them during the club season but now at the varsity season under the lights it’s a whole new thing.”

Lakeland finished the opening night of summer league with a 3-1 victory against Briarcliff, led by Carlos Del Monte (2G), Dhruv Girgenti (1G, 1A), Gabe Nieves (1A), Ryan Mathis (2 saves) and Andres Lopez (1 save).

“We are looking to find a formation that we like, where we are going to put our best players, that helps our team the most and find a little success and consistency within the program,” Hourahan said.