SYRACUSE, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — The seeding meeting for Section III Boys’ Soccer capped off the 2023 season for most teams around the Mohawk Valley on Sunday, October 15. For 21 local schools, the drive toward a sectional — and the possibility of a state championship — continues.
Both local teams from Class AAA will be playing first-round games beginning on Thursday, October 19. The RFA Black Knights will host their first-round game after earning the fourth seed. The Black Knights won five out of their last six to finish their 2023 campaign at 11-5, their only loss coming 3-2 to third seeded Utica Proctor on October 5. Led by 14 goal-scorer Raheem Taylor and senior goaltender Max Hilderbran — who has only allowed seven goals all season — the Black Knights will host fifth-seeded Cicero-North Syracuse for the right to face top seeded Liverpool.
The Utica Proctor Raiders are riding a six-game unbeaten streak heading into the playoffs, which has earned them the third seed. The Raiders’ only blemish during that time: a scoreless tie against Vernon-Verona-Sherrill on October 9. Junior midfielder La Eh Soe has led the Raiders’ attack this season, piling up 32 points and scoring a goal in all but three games he’s played in this season. The Raiders will host sixth-seeded Henninger on Thursday, October 19 at D’Alessandro Field.
All of the teams in Class A are chasing top-seeded, one-loss Westhill, but one team — the Whitesboro Warriors — will be playing for the chance to unseat the Warriors from Syracuse. Whitesboro did not finish their regular season as they would have liked to, going goalless in their last three games — two losses and a tie. Fortunately, a streak of four wins in five games allowed Whitesboro to pick up a 5-8-1 record and the eighth seed in Class A. They will host Chittenango on Tuesday, October 17 for the chance to play Westhill. The two teams met once this season, with goaltender Devin Trevisani stopping six shots in a 3-0 shutout on September 23.
Two teams looking to play spoiler in the Class A playoffs are 12th-seeded Oneida and 13th-seeded Camden. The Blue Devils were the next-to-last team to get in the playoffs, going winless this season with four ties. They also went goalless in their last five games, getting outscored 12-0 while picking up two scoreless ties. Camden looks to get their first win of the season when they face fourth-seeded Jamesville-DeWitt.
The Express fared slightly better than the Blue Devils this season, picking up two wins apiece against Camden and Holland Patent to finish 4-12. However, the Express have also gone winless since a win over Holland Patent on September 30. Goaltender Kaiden Cannistra will look to keep a clean sheet and play spoiler for the Express when they travel to fifth-seeded Carthage on Tuesday night.
Two teams that hope their sectional run doesn’t get spoiled occupy the higher seeds in Class A: third-seeded New Hartford and sixth-seeded Central Valley Academy. The Spartans have won or tied five of their last six games to finish 11-3-1, including a 4-2-1 record against teams in higher classes. New Hartford are led by a two-pronged attack of Ashton Giambrone (29 points) and Michael Linder (25). They will host Mexico on Tuesday, October 17 at Don Edick Field.
The Thunder finished their regular season with four straight wins, outscoring their opponents 23-3 during that streak. Three of the games during that streak were also at Diss Field, where they will be for their first-round game on Wednesday, October 18 when they host 11th-seeded Cortland. The Thunder offense runs through junior midfielder Cooper Reed, who has picked up 46 points, including seven games where he scored more than four points. However, five scorers this season have also scored more than ten points this year.
The VVS Red Devils slid into the playoffs after a 7-3 start, only picking up one win and two ties in their last six games. Led by senior forward Lincoln Pelc — who racked up 15 goals and 36 points — and senior goalkeeper Ryan Mitchell, who racked up 62 saves in 2023, the Red Devils were able to right the ship to pick up the tenth seed in Class A. They will travel to seventh-seeded Indian River — who are unbeaten in their last four games — for the right to play second-seeded South Jefferson in the second round.
In Class B, everyone is chasing the top-seeded Skaneateles Lakers, and ninth-seeded Adirondack — along with everyone else in Class B — is looking to unseat the class’ powerhouse. The Wildcats finished the season with back-to-back shutout wins over Canastota and Little Falls. Senior goalkeeper Leelynd Wilcox has racked up 207 saves this season, as well as four clean sheets. They will travel to Cazenovia on Tuesday, October 17 for the right to be the first to face the Lakers.
Two teams that might have the opportunity to face each other are 12th seeded Little Falls and fourth-seeded Clinton. The Mounties dropped seven out of their first nine games, but were able to go 3-4 over the last half of the season to finish 5-11. They will travel to Canastota on Tuesday, October 17; the Raiders have shut them out in both games this season — 2-0 on September 5 and 3-0 on September 26.
The Comets have taken a different tack to the playoffs, winning three out of their last four games to finish 10-5 and take the #4 seed. Clinton is led by a two-headed attack of junior Henry Schweitzer and senior Andre Jackson — both netting 24 points in 2023. They will face 13th-seeded LaFayette/Onondaga on Tuesday, who have won their last four games to finish 6-10.
The Holland Patent Golden Knights won three out of their last five games to finish 5-10-1, dropping their last two to rival Central Valley and Class C power Sauquoit Valley. Junior goalkeeper Andrew Stanley has evolved into a dual threat for the Golden Knights, with a save percentage of just under 80% and 12 points over the last month of the season. They will travel for the third straight game to General Brown to face the Lions, who finished their season with a 10-0 drubbing of Beaver River. The winner of that game will face second-seeded Marcellus in the next round.
Class C has been dominated this season by the top-seeded, undefeated Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knights. The only non-wins for the Maroon Knights this season were both ties to fourth-seeded Cooperstown. Other than that, Frankfort-Schuyler has run through their opponents, allowing more than one goal just once in a 4-3 win over Poland on September 12. They’ve also outscored their opponents 63-8 en route to their top seed and first round bye, and five different players have scored over 10 points, led by senior midfielder Roman Harrod’s 37. They will await the winner of ninth-seeded Morrisville-Eaton and eighth-seeded Stockbridge Valley at Lieutenant Ferraro Field on Friday, October 20.
Four teams in Class C will host first-round games on Wednesday, October 18, beginning with the only team to not lose to Frankfort-Schuyler: fourth-seeded Cooperstown. The Hawkeyes rode a 5-1-4 end of the season to finish 8-3-4. Goalkeeper Charlie Lambert has only allowed eight goals this season, including seven clean sheets to end the season. They will face 13th-seeded Thousand Islands on Wednesday, who have three ties of their own, going 0-2-2 to end the season.
While the Maroon Knights and the Hawkeyes have been fighting for supremacy, the Waterville Eagles have quietly cobbled together a four-game winning streak — including a win over Cooperstown — to finish 11-4-1, good enough for the fifth seed in Class C. The Eagles have a three-pronged attack, all of whom have finished over 25 points, led by the 57-point season of junior Quinn Mayne. Mayne had an 11-goal performance over two games in early September, and will look to duplicate that against the 12th-seeded Bishop Grimes Cobras on Wednesday.
Third-seeded Westmoreland/Oriskany finished their season with a 5-0-1 stretch, outscoring their opponents 17-4 during the streak. Senior goalkeeper Owen Long has stopped 86 percent of opponent shots this season, including seven clean sheets. They will host Beaver River on Wednesday, October 18, their third home game in four games.
The Utica Academy of Science Atoms have traded wins and losses all season to go 8-8, but that was good enough to earn them a home game as the sixth seed. They will host South Lewis at Sal Longo Field in Utica on Wednesday, October 18.
The other Class C team to earn a bye was Sauquoit Valley, who won five of their last eight, putting together four clean sheets in that time. The Red Hawks have four players who have scored at least 10 points this season, including senior Nicholas Giuliano, who has scored 11 goals and 26 points. Goalkeeper Alex Prichard has only allowed 11 goals in 109 shots this season, along with eight shutouts. They await the winner of the 10-7 matchup between Tully and the Syracuse Academy of Science.
In Class D, Poland retains its hold on the top spot in the class, going on streaks of seven and four wins to go 13-3 and take the top seed. Led by junior forward Carter Cookinham — who has amassed a massive 84 points in just 16 games — including a three-goal, four-assist game against South Lewis on Friday, October 13 — the Tornadoes will await their first-round opponent, which will either be Alexandria or DeRuyter.
The game between 12th-seeded LaFargeville and fifth-seeded Manlius-Pebble Hill might not have any local implications, but it does have a local fan favorite in the coach’s box for the Trojans. Utica City FC forward Tim Goldman has led Manlius-Pebble Hill to a 12-3 record as their head coach, including five straight wins to round out the regular season. They will host their first-round game with the 8-6 Red Knights on Wednesday, October 18.
The new-look Town of Webb Timberwolves managed to slide into the playoffs, thanks to wins in two of their last four games, including a 3-0 shutout of winless Remsen on Saturday, October 14. They will travel to Copenhagen on Wednesday to take on the Knights.
The Timberwolves might face another team of Knights — of the Emerald variety, if both of them make it past the first round. Hamilton earned the second seed, thanks to win streaks of four, three and three out of four to finish 11-5. The Emerald Knights can boast three players that have racked up 30 or more points this season, including leading scorer Gavin Holmes, who has 39. They will face off with the Madison Blue Devils, who finished the season with three straight losses to round out the season at 4-11-1.
The full schedule for the sectional playoffs can be found below:
Thursday, October 19
#5 Cicero-North Syracuse @ #4 RFA, 6 PM
- Winner plays @ #1 Liverpool, Wednesday 10/25
#6 Henninger @ #3 Utica Proctor, 6 PM
- Winner plays winner of #7 Corcoran/#2 Baldwinsville
Final: Saturday, October 28 @ 2:30 PM @ Fulton HS
Tuesday, October 17
#9 Chittenango @ #8 Whitesboro, 5:30 PM
– Winner plays @ #1 Westhill, Friday 10/20
#12 Oneida @ #5 Carthage, 5:30 PM
#13 Camden @ #4 Jamesville-DeWitt, 6 PM
#14 Mexico @ #3 New Hartford, 7 PM
#11 Cortland @ #6 Central Valley, Wednesday, October 18 7 PM
#10 Vernon-Verona-Sherrill @ #7 Indian River, Tuesday, October 17 @ 5:30 PM
- Winner plays #2 South Jefferson
Final: Saturday, October 28 @ noon @ Fulton HS
Tuesday, October 17
#9 Adirondack @ #8 Cazenovia
- Winner plays #1 Skaneateles
#12 Little Falls @ #5 Canastota
#13 LaFayette/Onondaga @ #4 Clinton
Wednesday, October 18
#10 Holland Patent @ #7 General Brown
- Winner plays #2 Marcellus
Final: Monday, October 30 — 7:00 PM at Phoenix HS
- Will host winner of #9 Stockbridge Valley/ #8 Fabius-Pompey, Friday October 20
#12 Bishop Grimes @ #5 Waterville, Wednesday October 18 @ 6:30
#13 Thousand Islands @ #4 Cooperstown, Wednesday October 18 @ 3:00
#14 Beaver River @ #3 Westmoreland/Oriskany, Wednesday October 18 @ 3:00
#11 South Lewis @ #6 Utica Academy of Science, Wednesday October 18 @ 4:30
#2 Sauquoit Valley
- Will host winner of #7 Tully/ #10 Syracuse Academy of Science, Friday October 20
Final: Monday, October 30 at VVS
- Will face winner of #17 Alexandria/#16 DeRuyter, Thursday, October 19
#10 Town of Webb @ #7 Copenhagen, Wednesday, October 18 @ 6:00
#15 Madison @ #2 Hamilton, Wednesday, October 18 @ 6:00
Final: Monday, October 30 at VVS