SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – This month was supposed to mark the beginning of the Lakeland Boys Summer Soccer League.
However, all the games scheduled for June were postponed because of COVID-19.
“There was a six-week schedule in place set to start June 16, with the championship match being played on July 28,” said Tim Hourahan, league founder and director. “We have a total of 75 games to be played at Lakeland, with each team playing an 11-game round robin schedule before the playoffs.”
Hourahan, who is also the Lakeland coach, is hoping that games can be played later in the summer, but admits that’s far from certain.
“I currently have removed all five nights of summer-league play scheduled for June and moved them into August,” Hourahan said. “I am trying to remain hopeful that there will be an opportunity to play some portion of the league, even if it is shortened, this July and August. But when I am realistic about it, I fully understand that there are a ton of obstacles to overcome in order to play and to meet those standards. Sometime in July, is a long way off, at this time.”
The league is scheduled to have 12 teams in it this season: Lakeland, Yorktown, Walter Panas, Somers, Rye, Briarcliff, Byram Hills, Valhalla, John Jay (East Fishkill), Brewster, Ardsley and Eastchester. The latter two are new additions to the league.
“I was really excited to add two more teams to the league this year and bump the league from 56 to 75 total games,” Hourahan said. “And if you can believe it, there were two other high-school programs that were interested to register as well back in March, but I decided to keep at 12 for the year, mostly due to amount of time I can reserve on the fields.”
According to Hourahan, the teams that participate in the league do so because their coaches understand the importance of getting their squads together during the summer.
“High school sports, it is a lot different than it was 10 or 20 years ago,” Hourahan said. “Coaches are working with their teams year-round, including the winter and spring seasons, and our summer league has now gotten to be really competitive. It is a full-fledged league, with every high school coach on the sideline, coaching up their players like it is September. There are reporters at games, website kept for league, music playing, and the competition of the players in July, was at an all-time high last summer.”
It also helps that the teams that have played in the summer league have continually been the programs to have a ton of success in the fall.
“Just last year Rye won a sectional title, and made it to a state semifinal,” Hourahan said. “Two years ago, Somers and Briarcliff played in summer league, each winning, a sectional title on their way to the state finals. In 2016, Somers won a state title. Byram Hills, Yorktown, and Lakeland all have won sectional titles after playing in the summer league. I know for me, and for the teams that keep coming back to play in my league, that it has become a massive part of each programs’ calendar, year in and year out.”
There is also the possibility of a tournament in August.
“The idea that I have floated out there with the other coaches in the league, was that if we are unable to hold a traditional summer league, as we have since ’08, then maybe in August there will be an opportunity to run a two-or three-day tournament at Lakeland,” Hourahan said. “We’d play a bunch of shortened games throughout the day on the fields, sort of like we do on the club soccer scene. I think it can be something really cool for our players if, in fact, we are without any competitive soccer from March to August.”