Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mohammed Is Ham'ZA MAN In Huskers Ascension

A few weeks ago, Yorktown's boys soccer team was languishing around the .500 mark. Striving for a pattern of consistency, the Huskers had been searching for the sources to keep them above sea level.

Partly at Mohammed Hamza's transition from midfield to forward, partly at Jacob Braham's ability to keep the net intact, and partly at an all inclusive team effort, Yorktown has rattled off a series off upsets. Braham has allowed just one goal during this sleeper story and late-October power surge, stabilizing a defensive unit between-the-posts. The senior tandem has helped catapult Yorktown, mired in mediocrity for the first 15 games, into the Section's upper-crust.

 On Wednesday, with the No.11 Huskers renewing a cross-town blood feud with Somers, Hamza entered the game as the focal point, his recent exploits demanding a surge in pressure. 

Having earned Journal News Player of the Week after depositing seven goals in four games, Hamza evoked double and at times triple teaming from Somers.

Keyed on and quiet throughout the first half, Hamza's assassin's instinct resurfaced in the second. 

The senior got loose on a transition attack, converting Marco Spiniello's assist to the game-deciding goal during minute no.72 Wednesday, en route to a 1-0 Section 1 semifinal victory. Spiraling to the turf, Hamza limped up in celebratory fashion while visibly hobbled. The senior has thrived despite a balky hamstring.

 The Huskers are slated for a date with local area power Byram Hills on Sunday, in the Section 1 championship at Arlington High in Lagrangeville. The Bobcats, which like Yorktown stormed out of the .500 mark (they hovered at 5-5 early on), defeated Eastchester 2-1 in yesterday's semifinal.

After culminating the regular season with a two-goal, two-assist performance en route to a 4-1 win over Brewster, Hamza erupted for a hat trick in a 4-0 blanking of Walter Panas. Hamza has yet to tail off.

 Hamza deposited a pair of goals in a 4-0 upset of Tappan Zee in the first round. Then, while becoming the focal point of the offense and extracting an uptick in pressure, Hamza had help from Marco Spiniello, sophomore Adam Romanski, and Roy Reynolds en route to a 3-1 Section 1 quarterfinal victory over Hen Hud.

"Magic carpet ride," "Cinderella story" and "out of nowhere tear" have all been used to describe Yorktown's wild post-season ascension.

 A No.11 seed registering upset after upset while storming its way to the Section 1 championship, Yorktown has authored a playoff power surge that seems storybook.

Yet at close glance, this is the result of not only a scoring binge from senior forward Mohammed Hamza, but the defensive backbone that is Yorktown senior Jacob Braham.

Though unsung and not equated with the same high-profile status as other recruits across the Section, the senior has provided an efficient account of himself.

 Proving that a 13-save performance during last year's season-ending loss to Horace Greeley was a portent of things to come, Braham has allowed just one goal this post-season.

Quarterbacking the offense by action and vocally, dissecting the strengths of scorers, and making several acrobatic saves that only rarified athletes are capable of, Braham's emergence has spearheaded Yorktown.

The lone goal he surrendered came on a penalty kick during Yorktown's 3-1 Sectional quarterfinal win over Hen Hud. Now the Huskers, previously the lone double-digit team standing in the tournament, are slated for a date with a deep and perennially potent monster.

Braham ditched baseball after deciding soccer had more long-term value for him.

 The senior, who turned 17 two weeks ago, trains year-round. Braham plays outdoor from March to December and indoor during the winters, joining forces with local talent such as Lakeland's Jon Denis, Bronxville's Sam Aherne, and Somers' Will Bennet.

Bennet's reunion with Braham was just one of many intriguing subplots to last night's game. The Tuskers are coached by Chris Pietris, a JV coach at Yorktown before becoming Somers' fourth varsity coach in six years. Bennet, a perilous scorer, was largely kept at bay.

The same clamp down focus applied on Hamza was used to lock up Bennet, with Matt Sussman providing steady harassment.