The Suffolk Class A soccer playoffs begin Thursday and some of the top surprises involve the boys teams that won't be there. State runner-up East Hampton, the four-time defending Suffolk VI champion, missed the postseason. Also Sayville had its 20-year playoff streak snapped.
For those teams continuing their seasons, Miller Place -- the preseason No. 1 selection -- captured the final playoff spot to salvage what would have been a disappointing year. Others teams have played the role of spoiler, like Harborfields, which despite a No. 8 preseason ranking finished at No. 2 overall and won Suffolk V. Only Shoreham-Wading River -- the No. 9 preseason ranking -- made the playoffs from a lower spot. If you haven't been able to follow Suffolk A close during the season, here's what and who you need to know entering the playoffs.
No. 1 John Glenn (14-0-2, 10-0-2 Suffolk VI)
About the Knights: Glenn, coming off its first league championship since 2010, is ranked No. 2 in the state and is the clear favorite to win the Suffolk. Led by senior Hunter Allen, whose 18 goals topped Suffolk A, the Knights finished with 10 more goals than any other team in Class A and their 53-8 goal differential (+45) is 14 better than the next closest (Miller Place +31). Sophomore Edwin Lincona and junior Luke Karen finished with 10 and nine goals, respectively, and senior Jacob Sherman added six goals. Sophomore goaltender Chris Spalding finished second in Suffolk with 10 shutouts.
Against the opposition: The Knights went 2-0 against No. 6 Miller Place and 1-0-1 against No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River. Glenn also defeated No. 2 Harborfields in non-league play, 2-0, on Sept. 5.
Last season: Glenn lost in the semifinal last season after an 11-5-2 season.
No. 2 Harborfields (11-3, 10-2 Suffolk V)
About the Tornadoes: The adage of "defense wins championships" will be put to the test as Harborfields' 23 goals in 14 games were the fewest among the six Class A playoff teams. Senior Ben Barnes' five goals were four fewer goals than any other leading scorer of a playoff team. The Tornadoes' defense allowed only 13 goals and senior goalkeeper Chris Amoruso had seven shutouts. Brian Rot and Chad Terc each added three goals in the Tornadoes' first league title season since 2006. Harborfields is ranked No. 7 in the state and won't be an easy postseason out.
Against the opposition: Harborfields' 2-0 loss to Glenn came in its first game of the season. The Tornados split games against Amityville and Islip, going 1-1 against each team.
Last season: Harborfields went 7-8, including 5-5 in league last season to secure the final playoff spot before losing to Comsewogue in the first round.
No. 3 Islip (9-3-2, 8-3-1 Suffolk V)
About the Buccaneers: Islip's 26 goals in league games, led by senior Junger Herazo's 10, was the most in League V by three goals. The Buccaneers returned 11 starters, and the experience paid dividends as seniors Connor Sharpe and Jessi Torres' four goals finished second and third on the team. Islip went 5-0-1 in its final six games and is entering the playoffs playing very well. Freshman goalkeeper Marcus Peterkin finished with five shutouts and other impact players include Matt Origoni, Matt Peterkin and Connor Powers.
Against the opposition: The Buccaneers split with Harborfields and dropped both games to Amityville.
Last season: Islip finished 7-8-1, including 5-5 in Suffolk V with the No. 6 seed for the playoffs. Glenn eliminated the Buccaneers in the first round.
No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River (10-4-2, 9-1-2 Suffolk VI)
About the Wildcats: The 15 seniors had extra motivation to make the playoffs after falling one game shy the previous two years. After losing the first two games of the season, it looked like SWR may be heading for another disappointing finish before a 5-0 victory over East Hampton turned the Wildcats' season around. Senior Doug DeMaio's 10 goals led the team and fellow seniors Jack DelDuca and Danny Mahoney finished second and third with seven and four goals, respectively. The defensive play of Austin Hutchins, Kieran Classen and Michael Donegan was key to a back line that held up its end of the bargain to create a 32-13 goal differential in Suffolk V and junior Nick Cusano had five shutouts. The Wildcats haven't lost since Sept. 21.
Against the opposition: The Wildcats went 1-0-1 against Miller Place and 0-1-1 against Glenn. SWR held leads over Glenn in both of its games -- the only team in Suffolk that can make that claim.
Last season: Shoreham finished fifth of seven teams at 6-9 and 5-7 in Suffolk VI.
No. 5 Amityville (11-5, 8-4 Suffolk V)
About the Warriors: It's been a streaky season for the Warriors. After winning five straight games at the end of September, Amityville fell on a three-game losing streak to start October before rebounding to win its final three games and secure a playoff spot. Senior Haubry Gomez has been a difficult player to guard all year and the model of consistency though -- leading Amityville and finishing second in Suffolk V with 13 goals. The Warriors play a possession-oriented style trying to use their multiple offensive weapons. This has resulted in 23 goals in Suffolk V, good for second-most in the league, and a 36-18 goal differential for the season. Senior Josue Martinez had seven goals and sophomore Oscar Hernandez added six more. Senior goalkeeper Kevin Ramirez recorded six shutouts.
Against the opposition: The Warriors went 1-1 against Harborfields and 2-0 against Islip, including a 4-1 differential in the Islip wins.
Last season: Amityville went 12-6 with a 7-5 record in league and recorded an upset victory over Sayville in the first round of the playoffs before losing to eventual state East Hampton in the semifinal.
No. 6 Miller Place (8-4-2, 6-4-2 Suffolk VI)
About the Panthers: Miller Place entered the season with very high expectations and a No. 1 ranking in Suffolk A in the preseason coaches poll. Senior John Murphy led the Panthers with nine goals -- highlighted by a three-goal performance in a 9-0 victory to end the season after a three-game winless streak for Miller Place. Sophomore Matt Hirdt (seven), senior Alex Moschella (six), junior Nick Evola (five) and senior Doug Minogue (five) were other major contributors to the potent offense that totaled 43 goals -- the second-most in Class A. Minogue, Moschella and Tristan Verdone's six shutouts led a defense that allowed 12 goals all season.
Against the opposition: Miller Place has struggled against the top teams in Suffolk VI, losing two one-goal games to Glenn and finishing 0-1-1 against SWR.
Last season: The Panthers finished one game shy of reaching the playoffs.
Quarterfinals begin Thursday when Amityville travels to Shoreham-Wading River at 2 p.m. and Miller Places plays at Islip at 4 p.m. Harborfields hosts the winner of Miller Place/Islip Monday at 1 p.m. and Glenn hosts the winner for Amityville/SWR Monday at 1 p.m. in the semifinal matchups. The Suffolk A championship will be 4 p.m. Nov. 5 at Dowling College.