White Plains Soccer 2021-22 Season Recap
By Steven Useche
The men’s varsity soccer season of 21-22 was one to remember. With its ups and downs, this team had to face adversity and the pressure of fulfilling the achievements of last year’s team. Some argued that the relatively young team lacked the necessary experience needed to be successful in a tough conference 1 league, but this team had plenty of experience, and most notably, skill.
Coming into the season, the team felt confident having had such a successful season last year. With pre-season, everything seemed to be clicking. The players had the chance to fix their mindsets on “one of the most challenging schedules the athletic department has seen.” This heavy task of living up to the success of last year served to be motivation for the new squad of this season. There were some new faces this time around, and they were new to the varsity experience. Senior defender Julian Formoso expressed how he felt prior to the start of the season, saying: “I felt nervous and excited, I don’t know what it was, just a mix of both, but I felt that we would win the league because we had a lot of good players and we also had good chemistry.” With that said, at times it was nerve-wracking for these players to step up at important times, but they lived up to that expectation.
The team started the season off to a good start with a win against Harrison at home. With this, the team was confident and in good spirits for the upcoming team that was waiting for them, the highly decorated Arlington Admirals. The Tigers knew this game was not going to be easy, but that did not stop them from being confident, and they started out well in the beginning moments of the game. The game was evenly played between both teams; it seemed like the game would be a draw. Unfortunately, the Admirals scored in the dying minutes of the game, sending the Tigers home with a bitter first loss.
Going back home, the Tigers had a chance to reflect, concluding that they were unlucky. Interestingly, unluckiness was what caused most of the Tigers’ losses, and in their third game their bad luck was showcased once again in a close-knit game between New Rochelle, where the Tigers once again lost in overtime from a last-minute goal. It was another bitter loss for the Tigers, but all there was to do was improve and focus on the next game against highly rated Mamaroneck Tigers. Besides the fact that both teams have the same moniker, they were also the finalists of last year’s Section 1 final game in which White Plains suffered a heartbreaking loss, therefore, there was a lot of buildup coming into the game. From the start, the game was fast paced and physical; both teams knew the importance of this game not only for a higher position in the seed but also for bragging rights. It seemed like White Plains would get their revenge as they controlled most of the game and scored in the first half. But the task became harder for White Plains as Mamaroneck scored late in the first half.
White Plains was going into overtime for the third straight time. In OT, both teams had scoring chances, and it wasn’t until the second half of OT that Mamaroneck finished the game off of a corner kick. It was an extremely tough loss for White Plains knowing that this would have been a statement win and a chance for revenge.
The team started to lose the good spirits that were present at the beginning of the season. At this point, people began to question the ability of this year’s team, if they really had what it took to win the league. Regardless of any opposing opinions, White Plains still had quality, it was just difficult to maximize it at times caused by injuries to key players and other inconveniences. When asked if the injuries affected the team’s performance, coach Michael Lambert had this to say: “We had a lot of injuries this season which was very challenging, though it allowed us to get other people to step up in different roles, which was nice to see, but in such a busy schedule it did affect us moving forward.” Indeed, it was very challenging moving forward, especially in a busier than usual schedule.
Nevertheless, the right thing for White Plains to do was to look past the defeat and focus on another tough rival in the Scarsdale Raiders. Like the Mamaroneck and New Rochelle games, the game against Scarsdale was a Section game, meaning that a win would give White Plains a higher spot in the seed ranking.
Coming into the game, White Plains knew that Scarsdale was a tough team to beat due to their high work rate style of play. To say the least, White Plains played poorly in this game and Scarsdale ended up winning by a higher-than-average goal gap. After this loss, White Plains was in crisis. The team did not know what to do, and people took this chance to criticize the team and their credibility. There were many people being blamed such as coaches and players, adding even more negatives to what seemed to be a terrible season for White Plains. Nevertheless, they looked past this the defeat as they usually do and focused on improving.
Things seemed to be getting better with a win over Fox Lane but their upcoming opponent was another big challenge, possibly even bigger than Mamaroneck. The team White Plains was facing was John Jay, the #1 ranked team in the Section at the time. White Plains controlled the game and gave John Jay problems that they were not used to. It was clear that John Jay was frustrated, but despite this, they won the game due to two controversial penalties. White Plains controlled the game so much so that John Jay’s coach admitted White Plains were their toughest opponent yet. With this praise came some of the confidence that had been lost, and it would be shown in an important league game against Ossining. Against Ossining at home, they played well in front of a supportive crowd and ended up winning with a score of 3-1. This was statement win for White Plains in the league and placed them as top contenders for league champions.
League games were always a top priority for White Plains. If good results were not coming in the Section, they still had the chance to show their skill in a tough league with former Section champions.
From here, the outcomes were unpredictable with a mix of good and bad results. But despite a record of triumphs and defeats, it was a great season for White Plains. The highlight of the 2021-22 season was their win against Portchester to claim the league title. It was a monumental day for the White Plains community, and will certainly be remembered, well it was the day they became back-to-back champions, a hard feat to accomplish. It will certainly be remembered by the players, with the chaos that ensued after the victory. It was obvious there was adversity thrown in the way of White Plains, but in the end, they stayed focus and accomplished what they set out to do.
Following this, there were good vibes everywhere. The mindset of pre-season was back, the confidence was off the roof, and White Plains looked to be turning things around, or so it seemed. After league play was over, White Plains put tremendous focus on an even bigger beast, the Section. They changed their training style and placed emphasis on a high-pressure style of play, well this was one of the most important things needed to be successful in Section 1.
After many days of rigorous training sessions, White Plains would be facing Portchester yet again. This was arguably the most anticipated game for both teams due to the tremendous rivalry between them. The buildup for this game was the biggest out of any other; there were promotions all over social media for what was the most important game these players were ever going to play. Fast forward to game day, and White Plains are on Portchester turf once again in front of a rumbling crowd, causing the decibels to go to the max. The crowd consisted of fans from both teams and even neutral spectators that wanted to see this amazing game.
The game started out well for both teams with both having their equal share of possession. It was White Plains who came out on top in the twentieth minute with a deep cross into the box that caused Portchester to fumble the ball and score an own goal. With this goal came comfort, and White Plains looked to be advancing to the next round. However, Portchester did not give up and ended up scoring in the seventy-third minute, seven minutes before the eighty were up. The stadium erupted with joy and celebrations from the Portchester fans, and for White Plains it was another frustrating moment. With their momentum, Portchester finished off the game with another goal and crushed the hearts of an exhausted White Plains team. There were four minutes left until the end, and it looked impossible for White Plains to equalize. Portchester opted to play the safe game and stalled until the game was over, and with this came their long-awaited victory.
This was definitely a difficult moment for White Plains because it was the end to a memorable season that saw them win the league back-to-back. There was nothing left to do but to be happy with themselves for being able to compete despite many setbacks.
A few days after, the team met and said their temporary goodbyes, although for the seniors it was a farewell.
This was a memorable season for White Plains. With the league championship at their hands once again, and a record full of notable wins, it was a great season. Despite some heartbreaking moments, they were still successful, and the success of this season will serve as motivation for next year’s team and for an upcoming generation of players that have a lot of potential to be a dominant force. ¡Vamos WP!
Steven Useche is a student in Ms. LoScalzo's Journalism class.