Three years, three different Class AA champions, all from the Suburban Council, none of them Shenendehowa.
“There’s a lot of parity in the Suburban Council,” said Shenendehowa coach Mike Campisi, who enters his 30th season as head of the Clifton Park school’s program, eight wins shy of 500 and three years removed from his last Section II championship team. “Anybody is capable of beating anybody.”
First Bethlehem (2006), then Niskayuna, and last fall, Guilderland, advanced from the section into regional play. Prior to that, the Plainsmen had won two consecutive Section II titles, running their total to 15 since 1982.
Bethlehem and Shenendehowa seem to be the best positioned for a Class AA title, thanks to their depth.
Colonie has one of the best offensive players back in Tommy Greene, and Jeff Geller has an experienced group as he takes over the Saratoga Springs program. Shaker is coming off a semifinal loss.
“We’re decent all over,” said Campisi of his latest team, led by returners David Clemens (forward); Kevin Buchanan, Ryan Yurchak and Tyler Izykowski (midfield); and Matt Telesca (central defense). John Mabee, who was inserted into the lineup in the postseason, takes over in goal in his junior year. Varsity newcomer Cameron Olsen, like Clemens a Region 1 Olympic Developmental Program player, steps in at right back.
“It’s a matter of scoring goals,” said Campisi.
Guilderland graduated nine starters and 60 goals from last year’s team that went unbeaten in the Suburban, and suffered its only loss in the regional finals.
“I don’t want to say it’s a rebuilding year,” said Dutchmen coach Mike Kinnally, whose teams have increased their win totals the past five years. “With what we’ve done as a program, it’s more of a transition year.”
Goalkeeper Devin Bailey returns, as do Jimmy Quinn and Caleb Ciaschetti.
“The goal is to be better by the end of the year,” Kinnally said.
Bethlehem was beaten by Colonie in the quarterfinals last fall, ending a three-year stretch of reaching the sectional final.
“We don’t have the outstanding individual talent like last year with Tommy Klim and Kevin Wendth, but we’ve got 15 seniors back,” said Eagles coach Phil Ridgway “I think we’ll be among the better teams.”
Goalie Dan Maddock, Max Kornstein, Mike Mulhall and Steve Russo lead the veterans.
Greene and midfielder Carson Deyo are back from the Colonie team that had to face Bethlehem and Shenendehowa on consecutive days in last year’s playoffs.
“We’ve got five sophomores on the varsity,” said coach Mike Trimarchi. “But we want to build on what we did last year.”
Geller takes over a Blue Streaks team that went .500 a year ago. The returning talent includes Noah Cadet, goalkeeper Aaron Costello, defenders Pete Walsh and Caz Rafalik and Tristan Frey.
“It’s a good group back.” said Geller, whose team again will be in the SC North, with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Shenendehowa, Shaker, Niskayuna and Ballston Spa. “I think we will be in the top tier.”
Niskayuna managed only two league wins and was shut out in half of its 16 league games last season.
But coach Jeff Ormsbee can send out one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Anthony Czech, as well as offensive threat Ryan Tauss, who trained with Spanish club Real Madrid in the offseason.
“We’ve got a lot of players back,” said Ormsbee, “and they’re determined not to let what happened last year happen again.”
Roy Pfeil becomes the third coach in as many years at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, as the Spartans, always a factor in the Class A playoffs, look to bounce back from a first-round playoff exit at the hands of eventual state semifinalist Mohonasen, itself rebuilding after losing most of last year’s starters.
Defending Big 10 champ LaSalle has a returning cast led by Class AA selection Spencer Franks, Billy Hoffman and Austin Buhrmann.
“We’ve got a lot of athletes, but not a lot of year-round soccer players,” said Cadets coach Gary Pascucci, who expects Albany to be strong this season. “The goal is to win the league, and improve our showing in sectionals.”
Dave Weiss’ Albany team shows 12 seniors, a handful of whom were on the Falcons’ team that reached the sectional semis in 2007. Goalkeeper David Stempsey, defender Matthew Wu and striker Samba Diallo lead the returners.
Schenectady coach Terrance Sloan is looking to blend different styles and talents into a unit.
“We have kids with different backgrounds and different style of play,” Sloan said. “We’ve got some very skilled players, but we need to have everyone on the same page.”
Adam Mangone, Nico Roberts, Greg Lewis and Mike Fredericks are back from a team that had three players, all seniors, named to the section’s Class AA all-star team.
Scotia-Glenville’s attempt for a sixth straight Foothills Council title will be challenged by a veteran Queensbury team, with South Glens Falls, Broadalbin-Perth and Gloversville also potential challengers.
Broadalbin-Perth midfielder Jared Retersdorf and goalkeeper Ben Spillman of Glens Falls were classification all-stars last fall, and Retersdorf will work with Steve Sullivan, Caleb Gruet and Alesandro Macchairelli in a potent attack.
“We’ve got to get organized, but the goal, obviously, is to repeat as league champions,” said Scotia coach Chris Bailey, whose team brings back forward Nick Hlat, defender Caleb Buchanan, goalkeeper Scott DeBiase and sophomore forward Chris Alescio from last year’s 12-2-0 league team. A healthy Albert Auricchio will help in back.
Queensbury returns eight starters from last year’s 9-4-1 league team.
“Our biggest problem always seems to be scoring goals,” said Spartans coach Pete Crotty.
Schalmont and Albany Academy always figure in the Colonial Council title picture, as well as the postseason. The Sabres got to the Class A final a year ago under first-year coach Jason Beck, after a Class B title in 2007 and a run to the state “A” semis in 2006.
Defenders Joe Amorosi, David Troiani and Connor Blakely return, as do midfielders Aaron Pommer, Will Gavin, Ian Webster and Zac Saccocio, as well as forward Antonio Larned.
“We’re strong up the middle,” said Beck, whose team will play in Class B in the postseason. “And we’ve got a lot of experienced players back.”
Academy was hit hard by graduation, but brings back Joe Naparstek.
Cobleskill-Richmondville has an offensive force in Matt Williams, Cohoes took a major graduation hit from its Class B finalist club and Voorheesville has to replace graduated standouts Lee Fenner (goal), Ryan Dimitt (forward) and Drew Altieri (defender).
Northville advanced to the state semis in Class D a year ago, and is looking for a repeat showing with a dozen players back.
“They’re experienced. They know what they need to do if they want to have the same success,” said Falcons coach Steve Clapper.
Goalkeeper Mike VanNostrand and defender John Ostrander were Class D all-star selections a year ago, and Jimmy Cole will be expected to be a major contributor up front.
Galway has been to a final the last five years.
“We’ve got a good nucleus back, but I don’t know if we’ll be as strong as last season,” said Eagles coach Neal Evans, whose team was 15-1-0 in the Western Athletic Conference and reached the “CC” final.
Matt Wilday, Jimmy Quist, Trevor Gibbins, John Turner and goalkeeper Reinhold Schaperjahn are among the vets.
St. Johnsville has merged with Section III’s Oppenheim-Ephratah, and will move from Class D to C for sectionals, and Canajoharie will field a team this fall.
Ashton Parker of Fort Plain and Fonda-Fultonville’s Sean Myers were named to the section’s Class C and B teams, respectively.
Waterford-Halfmoon is coming off an OT loss to Maple Hill in the “C” final, and should battle Class D runner-up Loudonville Christian School (with top scorer Dillon King) for the top spot in the Central Hudson Valley League.