By Mike Smith
The Eastchester Eagles may have finished the 2014 season with a pair of convincing wins, but the climb has just begun for the perennial playoff contenders. With the postseason seeding meeting scheduled for Oct. 22, Eastchester is hoping for a decent seed as they look to establish themselves as a top Class A team.
Eastchester overpowered Gorton on Friday, Oct. 17, thanks in part to a three-assist effort from Austin Capasso and two goals apiece from Phil Capriglione and James Silva. Two days later, the Eagles earned a season-finale win against Harrison on the strength of an Anthony Portale goal, to finish the regular season campaign with a respectable 10-5-1 record.
That record is more impressive, said head coach Alfio Carrabotta, considering the strength of Eastchester’s schedule. Playing in a new league this year, the Eagles had to take on a number of tough squads, including last year’s state runner-up Pelham, Class AA power Port Chester and perennial contenders like Rye and Byram Hills.
“Playing against big time schools, we knew it wasn’t going to be a cake walk,” said Carrabotta. “But we had a legit squad and we thought we would compete, and you can see that with the number of games decided by one goal.”
The Eagles strong finish will likely make Eastchester a No. 8 seed heading into the playoffs, which begin on Friday, Oct. 24. If the standings hold, the Eagles would host a tough Horace Greeley team in the first round. Greeley finished the regular season with a 9-5-2 record.
Carrabotta said that while Eastchester’s tough regular season schedule might be a help in terms of getting the team ready for the atmosphere of the postseason, the Eagles will need to remain focused if they hope to advance.
“It’s definitely a bit more preparation, but I don’t think we have the luxury to underestimate anybody,” said the head coach. “What I’ve been noticing, even in the other leagues, is that every game is a battle and that we’re going to have to play up and produce.”
Moving forward, he said, the most important thing for his team will be the ability to maintain pressure and take advantage of the offensive possessions.
“Collectively, we’re going to have to be more of a unit, and we’re going to have to put the ball in the net,” he said. “We have to finish. We have to be able to convert and score some goals.”