In our 4th preview, BDSL's Brian Rademaker brings the predictions our Championship division for 2017. Soon to be added will be Michael Schiebers views of the division as well.
Michael Schieber's Appreviated Predictions(to be expanded):
1) BSC International
2) Southtowns FPFC
3) Williamsville Willies
5) Lykan FC
8) Celtic Hoops
9) OP Alliance
10) Beast City SC
11) Niagara FC
12) FC Quake
3) Williamsville Willies over 6) Rangers
4) Wolfpack over 5) Lykan FC
1) BSC International over 4) Wolfpack
3) Williamsville Willies over 2) Southtowns FPFC
1) BSC International over 3) Williamsville Willies
BDSL Championship Division Predictions
Overview: This championship division is going to be something else this year. I can’t remember a season where there was no clear cut league favorite (who probably already belonged in Premier) while also having such equal talent across all teams. I’m not kidding when I say that I could be really butchering the placements of practically all teams once this season wrapped up, and that’s from spots 2 all the way down to 12. But somebody has to finish first and somebody has to finish last.
12. Niagara FC:
Added: Ross Suitor (Queenston), Jeremy Kraska (Elmwood Saints), Ryan Miller & Jack Tewsley (Youngstown Marksmen), Mike Curatolo (Stone Jug), 8 free agents
Lost: Adam Winkworth (Queenston), Seth Snyder & Matt Casey (Celtic United), Donald Minderler & Evan Scales (Celtic Brigade), Garrett Robinson & Lucas Robinson (Grand Island), 4 free agents including FC Buffalo’s Isaiah Barrett.
Gutted is the word here. Had it not been for the snag of the year in Ross Suitor, I’d have them 13th in a division of 12. Although this is a bad example considering the quality of BUSS, Niagara had a decent 12 man roster present in their Tehel Cup match on 5/4, Suitor included, so I worry if they’ll routinely fill up the score sheet with zeros on offense, while keeping opponents at bay for the majority of their games. The only viable option forward here, since Suitor will probably have to be used towards the back end of the field with McIntosh, is newcomer Brandon Horton and maybe Frankie Valente if he’s still got same game left in him. Depth will be this team’s issue, so they can’t afford to really be missing any of their key players at any game. Suitor can win games by himself, so he'll have to have a very busy summer to keep these guys in Championship.
11. OP Alliance:
Added: 3 free agents
Lost: 3 free agents
I reserve the right to change my initial predictions from the other day, and I’ve done so here with OP Alliance. They’ll trot out a very similar team to last year, although the addition of Marcus D’Aguiar from RIT was nice. I fear this placement, because these guys trolled me all of 2015 as their team kept winning while my original prediction was 13th (out of 14). But then the logic creeps in, and although they seemed to play everyone close last year, they really could only get past the bottom feeder teams, two of which are playing in 1st division now. So then I checked to see which teams had the least amount of college soccer experienced players on it to break some ties and I arrived here at OP Alliance. I think they’re this year’s Polonia of the division. Too many draws burns them, and I thought they’d grab a win opening week against Beast City while they were short some of their difference makers away at college, but weather has sided with the Beast, so I do as well.
10. FC Quake:
Added: Mate Tarr (BUSS), Tom Ricciardi (Depew Village), 4 free agents
Lost: Tony Bonadonna (FC Aftershock), Brendan Sanders (SPAL), 5 free agents
Quake is one of two to receive artificial promotion, but I think it’s a decent fit for them. The Mate Tarr add significantly helps this team’s midfield, but I still think that it’ll actually come down to just how influential their young gun talent is. This team probably can rise to mid-table if those guys are game changers, otherwise, I think you’ll see a similar team to last season, who, figured out how to win games, but not too many of them were done in convincing fashion (don’t you go pulling up that Nickel City result, they don’t count).
9. Beast City SC:
Added: Cam Law (BUSS), 2 free agents
Lost: 3 free agents
Initially I had these guys 11th, but then I started to think about it more, and quite frankly this team has a strong defense. Law, J. Keem, and Callahan are great building blocks in the back. Nemanja Simic is a gifted player who likely will play centrally in midfield. Noah Keem is a dangerous forward as well. As is the case with most teams at this end of my rankings, it’s depth that becomes the issue. If the youthful stars on this side can’t show for one reason or another, this team struggles. However, they’ve got a lot of 8:30 tilts this season so maybe that’ll free up those who get involved in youth tournaments. It’s speculation, but it makes sense to me.
8. Celtic Hoops:
Added: Ricky Martinez (Amherst Sharpshooters), Garrett Sengbusch & Brian Benson (SoHo FC), Tommy Huebsch (Celtic United), Steve Huebsch (Rampart FC), 2 free agents
Lost: Nathan Lawson & Casey Morgan (Celtic 1888), 3 free agents
Hoops will be a much improved side this year compared to last year, assuming their additions still have that knack of wanting to win, rather than just coming out to get a run not caring quite as much about the result. Matt Goldwater could be a welcoming addition to this side, last being seen playing (well) for SoHo a few years ago. No one seems to agree with me about Hoops this year; all of those other “experts” I’m hearing think this team will hover around dead last. But look Hoops, I believe in you. I believe in you to narrowly miss the playoffs.
Added: Al Franjoine (Depew Village), Neil Gladstone (Alden), 2 free agents
Lost: 5 free agents
Panthers didn’t seem to lose anyone important from last year, so I think a mid-table finish seems appropriate this season. They have some individual talent here, such as Francesco Cardillo or Mark Howlett or Jerome Lee Yaw or Kurt Schulz to name the best of the bunch, and I think they can win games against anyone with all of these guys present. Their collective age could pose a bit of an issue, but the experience here is almost second to none. Panthers are going to be a tough out for anyone, but I think they barely miss the playoffs due to playing a few games with 11 or 12 guys this season, games in which they lose.
Added: Matt Nesper (NMB FC), 4 free agents
Lost: Ryan Couell (Lykan FC), 5 free agents
I don’t care if these guys dropped 11 of their players for the starting XI on Barcelona; Rangers will always finish 6th. They’ve been a mid-table Championship side now for more than a decade, it’s as consistent as they come. I like their adds though. Some youthful grabs in Ayuba and Melon, while returning a strong defensive presence in Nick Fetterman. I’d have to think Dom Parisi comes back down to earth this season, after an absolutely ridiculous and dare I say random goal scoring season. Their form indoors this winter actually has been underwhelming, which I’m trying to sort out in my head. But this all doesn’t matter. They’ll go 5-4-2 with a goal or two more than what they concede and they’ll be a wildcard playoff team. Take it to the bank.
5. Lykan FC:
Added: Chris Aurilio, Matt Jones & Alex Drainville (NMB FC), Ryan Couell (Rangers), Max Wittig (Catan FC), Greg Blette (FC Yemen), 3 free agents
Lost: Tyler Mason (SPAL), 4 free agents
I hope they’ve addressed the goal scoring problem (12 in 11 games last year??), but what continues to be status quo is their very impressive defense. In a league like this, which has historically lacked punishing forwards, you can get by like this. I think they do score some more this season which is what elevates them to 5th place this year, but they have to be very careful, as this is one of the teams I can see really in any spot 4 through 11.
4. Southtowns Family Practice FC:
Added: Tyler Eister & Colin Morrissey (Lakeside FC), Austin Mathis (Hamburg Monarchs), 3 free agents
Lost: Cody Rouse (Amherst Sharpshooters), Will Lange (Hamburg Monarchs), 5 free agents
I’m sliding Southtowns down the ladder a bit mainly because of the departure of Cody Rouse, who’s capable of almost everything in the center of the pitch. Replacing caliber like that is almost impossible, so I think they suffer a bit from this one, at least early on when they’re trying to figure out the right mold. But aside from this, they return other strong pieces in Will Smith, James Quinn (great netminder if Littere is missing as well), Rob Booker, Steve Fox and Phil Pinzone. This team is one of my virtual locks for playoff soccer in the Championship division, but I think the teams to come have a higher ceiling.
Added: Braden Scales & Brian Bartosik (Rogue FC), 2 free agents
Lost: 3 free agents
All that hoopla back in February calling for a big merger of Rogue players and they ended up only grabbing two of them, plus a nice pickup in both Brian Terpin and Rob Locciasno. So there’s already disappointment on my end here, but what already existed on this roster was strong, so needless to say, I still think very highly of this club. There’s just not nearly as big of a lock to promotion as they once were, on paper. Wolfpack has attacking options and a strong midfield, maybe a somewhat vulnerable defense aside from Terpin, but arguably the best goalie in a division filled with capable keepers. Wolfpack however won’t hold a candle to Amherst in the anticipated Tehel Cup game.
2. Williamsville Willies:
Divisional Expectation: 5th Place in Mingle
Added: Nick Kurek (Elmwood Saints), 4 free agents
Lost: Anthony Gallo (RVS United), 5 free agents
The Willies are good. I’d be very careful if I were a long standing Championship side thinking this is just another promoted team into the division. Some of their adds are guys who haven’t played in the BDSL before (or haven’t in a long time), and I think they’ll contribute effectively. One is their keeper Noah Smith, while the other is a forward option in Pat Mathabe. You add those guys into a fray that already includes Jeff Bellinger, Ian Harris, Thomas Jackson, and Noah Bachwitz, and you’ve got yourself a young and talented team. I don’t think they’re quite yet ready for Premier, but they’ll get dangerously close.
1. BSC International:
Added: John Occhiuto & Ricky Fleck (BSC Raiders), Caleb Holmes, Mike Johnson and Mark Lawlor (Elmwood Saints), Paul Welker (DSC Buffalo), 2 free agents
Lost: Grant Graves (Devils), 8 free agents
BSC International could become one of the only teams in BDSL history to see relegation followed by promotion at this high of a level. Usually relegation out of Premier is followed by a club completely folding or eventually folding (stay strong Lykan!), as Lakeside, Chelsea, Rogue, and Rush, probably amongst others, have completely disappeared. Occhiuto and Lawlor make this midfield pretty dangerous, something they probably lacked a bit last season if I’m being totally honest. They’ve retained Devonte Black and Ali Sheikh as scoring threats, and they can lean on Caleb Holmes for some goals early on as well, before he most likely stops showing up in the latter half of the season as he’s pretty heavily involved in the Southern Tier Soccer league. That still leaves Fleck as a guy who can bury the ball into the back of the net. So what’s not to like? We already know this is a prideful defensive bunch, including a strong keeper in Arcara, so now they have a midfield presence and a lot of options up top. Collective age is the only worry here. BSC International comes back up to Premier in 2018.
Wildcard Playoff Results:
#3 Wolfpack defeats #6 Rangers in penalties. Each goalie puts on a clinic in the PK frames, but McCoy gets his shot by Weigand and gets the ‘Pack howling into the semis.
#4 Southtowns FPFC dismantles #5 Lykan FC who comes undone defensively for the first time all season.
Semi-Final Weekend Results:
#1 BSC International defeats Southtowns FPFC 1-0, and time is up on MacLean and his gang to make that push into Premier. Personally, I hope for a better story.
#3 Wolfpack knocks off #2 Williamsville Willies. The Pack has bided its time over the years. The roller coaster it is of a D1 title, followed by a couple of dark years in the Championship level, they could have easily dropped down the ladder. But instead, Hanavan and Moonan persevered, bringing Wolfpack closer and closer to the brink of Premiership, and alas, here it is. Willies won’t be too far behind, but not quite yet.
#1 BSC International completes the Double, with a 2-1 winner off the foot of Paul Johnson, in a really entertaining finale that captures just as much attention as the Premier final running simultaneously on the Truscott pitch at Nichols.