After unveiling the Midseason XI second team on Thursday, we move forward with the Buffalo & District Soccer League premier division first team today. This 11 was chosen through discussions with managers and players involved in the league.
Goalkeeper: John Netter, Queenston FC. Sharpshooters' Durst made the first-team goalkeeper spot a tougher choice than expected, but Netter remains the premier keeper in the BDSL. From his wingspan to reflexes to distribution, the Parliament's last line of defense instills confidence in his defenders, dominates his box and has already posted two assists to boot.
Defender: Matt Waddington, BSC Raiders. The 33-year-old defender has guzzled from the fountain of youth; his outstanding overall displays for BSC Raiders in the USASA Amateur Cup (vs. RDSL, PA Majors) have carried into the regular season, where Waddington's team just catapulted over Sharpshooters to the top spot in premier in Week 6.
The former Niagara United pro matches strength in the tackle with refined touch, and his intensity and bite personifies Raiders.
Defender: Casey Derkacz, BSC Raiders. It was tough to choose between Chris Walter and Derkacz, but the University at Buffalo women's assistant coach gets the nod. Derkacz may be the smoothest player in the BDSL with the ball at his feet, picking out targets short and long, orchestrating Raiders' attack from his own third.
The departures of Ian Mort and Rudy Pikuzinski have added a bit more pressure on Derkacz to be a difference-maker, and he'll relish that responsibility.
Defender: Ryan Schroen, Clarence. No defender in the BDSL is as smart or as steady in his own third as the former Cansius College back, who rarely gets beaten one vs. one and puts his body on the line in challenges. He may not have Waddington's size or Derkacz's technical prowess, but he's a first-class all-around defender. Wins above replacement is not yet a league stat, but if it were, it's not unreasonable to think that Schroen is a +2.
Midfielder: Ross Suitor, Queenston FC. You can put the curly haired dervish anywhere and he'll be effective. While he plays outside back for St. Lawrence University, he's spent time up front and in the midfield for Queenston, troubling opponents with his pace, work rate and improved finishing ability, scoring a "worldie" against Clarence.
Suitor has picked up the offensive slack from Miguel Rodrigues' departure, which many thought would be a considerable loss.
Midfielder: Chris Berardi, Celtic United. Berardi hummed through the first half of the BDSL season, carrying Celtic United on his back until the Hobart trio could relieve some of the responsibility.
Like Suitor, Berardi is a very good athlete who will beat defenders with acceleration and determination; he's more of a true No. 7 or 11 than he is a No. 10, but United doesn't care as long as he's effective.
Midfielder: Pablo Ordonez, SoHo FC. You can't argue with the numbers, and Ordonez is tied for the most assists in the entire BDSL with six, connecting regularly with all-premier second-team striker Ryan Mangano. The former Cheektowaga High School standout can finish with his potent left foot, too, so expect a few more goals as the season progresses.
Midfielder: Mateo Escobar, Yemen Elite. Few players have more influence on their own team than Escobar, who's essentially a coach on the field. Even though he's now far removed from his career at UB, Escobar still shows flashes of quality from his NCAA Division I days, particularly on set pieces.
Yemen Elite teammates say that he can "will" a goal when it's needed, which is hard to explain until you see it happen in the waning moments of a match.
Forward: Kendell McFayden, BSC Raiders. He may not play striker at the USL or NPSL level anymore, but the FC Buffalo regular can still be lethal in men's league. Many of his 12 goals are of the highlight-reel variety; McFayden is more than a one-dimensional striker who can sprint past defenders and score on breakaways.
Forward: Hunter Walsh, Rogue FC. Walsh has had a busy summer so far; the University at Buffalo underclassman won State Cup with the Empire United Buffalo U-18s and now trains regularly with FC Buffalo.
In the BDSL, he's unquestionably Rogue FC's most dangerous player, and his eight goals and five assists, in all competitions, make him one of two threats in premier for double digits in both categories before the season's close (Adel Rahman of Yemen Elite is the other).
The St. Joe's Collegiate Institute graduate is hungry to improve, and he may be a factor in the National Premier Soccer League before long.
Forward: Regan Steele, Sharpshooters. When the former Canisius College attacker embarks on his trademark 30 or 40-yard loping runs, few defenders will stand in his path. His hat-trick in the first half against Raiders was a truly special performance, and his presence alone gives Sharpshooters hope they can topple the Raiders' dynasty in the postseason.
*Note: The BDSL premier all-snubbed team will be delayed until early next week, and the midseason teams are in place of this weekend's primers. Expect Week 7's scores to be posted on BN Soccer on Monday morning, though.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's going to Fenway Park tonight, at email@example.com