Defense has Plainsmen in position for state soccer title run

Solid defense, timely scoring, smart pos­itional play.

Shenendehowa seems to have its game t


Solid defense, timely scoring, smart pos­itional play.

Shenendehowa seems to have its game together heading into Saturday’s Class AA state semifinal against Hicksville, set for 11:15 a.m. at Middletown High School.

The 19-1-0 Plainsmen have been more than stingy this year, their defense smothering teams while the offense gets enough goals to get by.

“We’ve played well defensively. We don’t have a lot of flashy players,” said Mike Campisi, who has coached six state championships teams.

Class B champ Broadalbin-Perth, at 17-0-3 the only unbeaten team left in Section II, joins the Plainsmen for this weekend’s tournament at Middletown High School. Maple Hill (Class C) and Fort Ann (D) are also through to the state semis.

Championship games in all classes are Sunday at Middletown High School.

What Campisi does have is three solid players in front of goalkeeper Spencer Junco, a group largely responsible for Shenendehowa surrendering only nine goals this fall, one in four postseason games

“I call them ‘The Golden Triangle’ on defense – Kromer, Breznak and Jenkins,” Campisi said, referring to senior center backs Joe Kromer and Shane Breznak and midfielder Michael Jenkins. “Positionally, they play well. And we’ve been catching goals.”

Junco has had to pick only one ball out of his own goal in the last seven games.

“Brez and Kromer have been solid in the back all year,” said Junco. “We’ve given up less than half a goal per game this year. I’m not going to try to take credit for all of that. I’ve had a few good saves here and there, but the defense has been unbelievable. And Mike is the best player I’ve ever played with.”

Hicksville comes in with a 16-1-2 record, the Nassau County champs knocking out Section XI representative Brentwood, 2-0, in the regional final.

Shenendehowa forward Saamy Teymouri is still hobbled by a high ankle sprain, and Campisi is prepared to move Danny Cavosie or Adam Barlow to the top of the attack. Midfielder Marcus Moore would take on more of an attacking role.

“Marcus has had two good games in a row, in the finals and regionals,” said Campisi, who last had a team reach this stage in 2009 and last won a state title in 2005.

Shenendehowa has added incentive.

All season, both the girls’ and boys’ teams have worn armbands in remembrance of Lucas Romano, who died of leukemia shortly before his season year.

“We all know what we’re doing it for,” said Junco of the team’s dedication of the season to Romano. “That alone can’t carry us, but the combination of talent, that motivation and the desire to bring the state title back to Shenendehowa where it belongs is enough to propel us into the state finals and, hopefully, a state championship.”

Broadalbin-Perth has a dominating scorer in Dominic Kwiatkowski, a top-flight goalkeeper in Madison Wilcox and solid players in the other nine positions as it tries to improve on a state semifinal appearance two years ago.

“Dominic and Madison were on that team, and those two are our leaders,” said Patriots coach Brian Henry, whose team has a 9:15 a.m. semifinal date with Akron of Section VI. “They understand what it’s like to be here. It’s such a big event, it can be overwhelming.”

Kind of like the Patriots’ offense.

Kwiatkowski’s 34 goals lead the way, with Tucker Wilcox (12) and Ben Bellandi (11) also in double figures. Wilcox also has 18 assists.

At the other end of the field, the Patriots have given up only 19 goals.

“We’ve had this weekend on our calendar since August,” said Henry. “I knew this team could be very good. They do a nice job keeping possession, we can attack and we can defend.

Other players have had important roles, but Henry cited the efforts of junior midfielder A.J. Klemczak as vital to the team’s success.

“He’s our blue-collar worker,” praised Henry. “He knows his role. He knows he won’t get the headlines, but we let him know that his hard work is very important to any success we have.”

Maple Hill (20-1-0) takes on Holland of Section VI in an 8:30 a.m. semifinal. Fort Ann (16-2-2) gets Section III’s Hamilton in a 4 p.m. semi. Maple Hill has won three state titles and finished second in 1998. Fort Ann was a state semi­finalist in 2010.

Categories: High School Sports

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