After New York City’s Public Schools Athletic League canceled its high school season this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Staten Island Youth Soccer League sprinted into action so players could play their favorite sport.

Nine high school-aged teams – five boys squads and four girls teams – are playing an eight-game SIYSL schedule with all games at the Owl Hollow Soccer Complex.

Some 150 players kicked off their season in late October. The teams were created with the concept of keeping schoolmates and friends on the same teams to mimic the high school soccer experience as much as possible.

“We didn’t know what was going on with the high schools, but once the Catholic schools had a season and the PSAL didn’t, we wanted to get the kids playing,” SIYSL vice president Rob Libertelli said. “We started this league for them, to give them a chance to play high school soccer.”

Victoria Kadar, 14, is a freshman at Tottenville High School and was disappointed to not be able to play in the PSAL this fall.

“Victoria has been playing since she was five years old and we were highly disappointed [with the PSAL],” said Victoria’s mother, Jennifer. “It was very upsetting. There was no initiative. Friends she had been playing for years were playing for the Catholic schools. She’s always wanted to play at the high school level and represent her school. They [SIYSL] did this out of the kindness of their hearts, it’s amazing. They put the kids first and made this opportunity available.”