I guess you could say that I have a thing for goalkeepers. With my all-star announcements coming out in today’s edition of The Journal News, three of the four players of the year that I’ve selected have been goalies, which may serve as further proof that keeper is the most important position on the field. Or, it could just mean that we’ve had some very good ones in Section 1 in the past two seasons.
The Journal News 2012 Westchester/Putnam player of the year is Blind Brook goalkeeper Ben Seguljic (pictured above). For me, this decision came down to Seguljic or Byram Hills striker Jon Berry – the section’s leading goal scorer. Both were deserving, but there were a few things that I thought put Seguljic over the edge. For starters, he was able to lead his team to repeat as Class B section champs despite the fact that the Trojans had to chase a second straight title without 2011 Small School player of the year Lucas McBride. But it was also the manner in which Blind Brook won that made Seguljic the choice, as the senior went the entire postseason without allowing a goal. He always had this calm demeanor in big games, and that rubbed off on his teammates.
Here are the rest of the first-team all-stars from Westchester/Putnam:
Jon Berry, Byram Hills (pictured to the right): The all-state senior led the section in goals with 28, proving to be the most unstoppable force in Section 1. The Large School Player of the Year scored in 15 out of 19 games, tallying nine game-winning goals and propelling the Bobcats to the Class A final.
Tom Cole, North Salem: The all-state senior, known for his intensity and hustle, led the Tigers with 15 goals and six assists. His consistent ability to finish helped North Salem reach the Class B title game.
Steven Hernandez, Port Chester: The freshman sensation took Section 1 by storm this season, scoring seven of his 11 goals in the playoffs, including five that put the Rams ahead. He was the biggest threat on the best team in Westchester.
Joseph Iraola, Mahopac: The all-state senior had a knack for clutch moments, scoring four golden goals, including the overtime winner in a Class AA quarterfinal against rival Carmel. He finished with 19 goals and five assists, and will play at American University next year.
Chris Cruz, Yonkers: No player in the section had more combined goals and assists than the all-section junior, who finished with 21 goals and 23 assists. An unselfish player with great field vision, Cruz led the Bulldogs to their first playoff win in recent memory.
Gonzalo Prando, Lakeland (pictured to the left): The all-state senior managed to lead the Hornets with 18 goals, despite playing a defensive midfield position. He had back-to-back hat tricks in the middle of the season and led Lakeland to the Class A semifinals.
Derlis Zayas, White Plains: One of the true two-way midfielders in the section, the all-section junior had five goals and five assists while displaying excellent vision and defensive instincts. With Zayas leading the way, the Tigers did not lose a regular-season game to a Section 1 opponent.
Jason Henderson, Scarsdale: The all-section senior led a Raiders defensive unit that posted eight shutouts and eight one-goal games on their way to the Class AA semifinals. A center back with great height, Henderson excelled at winning 50-50 balls in the air.
Josh Kriss, Mamaroneck: Not only was the all-section senior responsible for leading the Tigers’ defense, but he was also a major threat on set pieces with his strong throw-ins. As the vocal presence in the back, Kriss kept Mamaroneck organized.
Kei Matsumoto, Keio (pictured to the right): The all-section senior scored more goals than any other defender in the section with a team-leading 18. As the Unicorns’ center back, Matsumoto was also responsible for organizing the defense.
Coach of the Year
John Cafaldo, Port Chester: Despite losing several key players from his 2011 squad and entering this season with a group that was considered to be less talented, Cafaldo took the Rams even further. The sixth-year coach blended many new parts together to lead Port Chester to its first Class A state finals appearance since 1995.
GK – Jose Gonzalez, Sr., Port Chester
F – Jon Cabeca, Sr., Briarcliff
F – Aidan Murray, Jr., Pelham
F – Ben Ovetsky, Jr., Irvington
F – Tom Young, Jr., Edgemont
MF – Ari Leffell, Soph., Solomon Schechter
MF – Steven Pinske, Sr., Hen Hud
MF – Brewster Warble, Sr., Bronxville
D – Hyun Kyo Jung, Sr., Kennedy
D – Josh Kogan, Sr., Horace Greeley
D – Nicholas Oliveira, Sr., Valhalla
Zach Aller, Sr., Mamaroneck; Diogo Antunes, Jr., John Jay; Joel Arevalo, Sr., New Rochelle; Henry Avendano, Sr., Woodlands; Alex Barreto, Sr., Rye Neck; Otavio Basso, Soph., Pelham; Joshua Beinhacker, Sr., Byram Hills; Mike Bernardi, Sr., Mahopac; Jack Connors, Jr., Bronxville; Leandro Curran, Sr., Westlake; Felipe DaSilva, Sr., Ossining; Aidan Datene, Soph., Hen Hud; Ciaran Dillon, Sr., Haldane; Nick Fecci, Sr., Somers; Michael Franklin, Sr., Solomon Schechter; Mateo Galindo, Jr., Yonkers; Alex Gaujean, Soph., Scarsdale; Ryan Golden, Sr., Byram Hills; Liam Harris, Sr., Rye; Melvyn Huaman, Jr., Hamilton; Erik Johansen, Sr., Harrison; Arthur Kaufman, Sr., Briarcliff; Nick Kyriakidis, Jr., Pleasantville; Austin Mayhew, Sr., Carmel; Thomas McGonnigle, Sr., Lincoln; Daniel Murillo, Sr., White Plains; Timmy O’Driscoll, Sr., Lakeland; Harris Pollack, Sr., Horace Greeley; William Ribiero, Sr., Port Chester; Ryan Roche, Sr., Yorktown; Alejandro Romero, Sr., White Plains; Kengo Sawada, Sr., Keio; Matej Sis, Sr., Irvington; Jake Starr, Sr., Blind Brook; Zach Streichler, Sr., Blind Brook; Bryan Suertegaray, Sr., Port Chester; Alban Vneshta, Sr., Saunders; Neil Williams, Sr., Brewster; Kevin Zajc, Sr., North Salem.
The choice for player of the year in Rockland was a bit easier to make. The best player on the best team in county was North Rockland goalkeeper Steven Hegner (pictured above), who led his team on a surprising run to the Class AA title game. The Red Raiders season was truly remarkable when you consider that they were breaking in a new coach, lost two of their best players to the U.S. Soccer Academy and two others to early season injuries. This is a team that didn’t even make it out of the first round last year, but they were able to excel this season in large part thanks to Hegner. North Rockland’s entire style of was based heavily on the senior’s ability to keep the team in close games. There was a tremendous amount of faith shown in Hegner, and he delivered.
Alex Castillo, Pearl River (pictured to the left): The all-section senior tallied nine goals and five assists despite being the focus of opposing defenses. One of the craftiest players in the section with a strong leg, Castillo scored more than 50 goals in his varsity career.
Cristian Diaz-Rosales, Ramapo: No player in the county scored more goals than the all-section senior, who finished with 14 and added 10 assists. With his speed and ball skills, Diaz-Rosales has been known as one of the most explosive scorers in the county for the past few seasons.
Nick Laurent, Clarkstown South: The all-section junior is considered to be one of the most talented strikers in the county. A gifted athlete with a tremendous work ethic, Laurent finished with six goals and two assists despite missing some time due to injury.
Anthony Quintana, Spring Valley: The all-section senior led the Tigers with seven goals and four assists in 13 games. He assisted on the winning goal when Spring Valley handed North Rockland its only regular-season loss on Oct. 3.
Anders Fleming, Nyack: The all-section senior was named league MVP after leading the Indians to a surprising league title. He finished with four goals and seven assists while being asked to defend the opposing team’s top midfielder.
Giovanni Galvano, Pearl River: The 2011 Rockland Player of the Year was one of two all-state selections from the county. He led the Pirates with 11 goals while adding four assists, but it’s his ball skills and field vision that set the senior apart.
Will Lopez, North Rockland: The all-section senior was the Red Raiders’ offensive catalyst, leading the county with 14 assists. His creativity led to the majority of North Rockland’s scoring chances during a tremendous 18-2 season.
Rafael Aguilar, North Rockland (pictured to the right): The senior fullback was an all-section honorable mention selection after leading a stellar defensive unit for the Red Raiders. He also took most of North Rockland’s penalty kicks, chipping in five goals and three assists.
Chris Coughlin, Pearl River: The junior was an all-section honorable mention selection and is regarded as one of the top defenders in the county. He was often asked to guard the opponent’s top scorer, while also pushing up to contribute three goals.
Gabe Rivera, Nyack: The all-section senior was a physical force from his right fullback position, aggressively pursuing 50-50 balls. He was the leader of the Indians’ defense while scoring four goals of his own.
Coach of the Year
Hal Stone, Nyack: After winning only two games in 2011 and failing to qualify for sectionals, Stone led the Indians on a dramatic turnaround. Nyack went 11-6-1, beating Pearl River twice to claim an unexpected league title and went onto upset fifth-seeded Beacon in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
GK – Karl Jamiolkowski, Sr., Albertus Magnus
F – Matt Dale, Sr., Albertus Magnus
F – Wendy Jean, Sr., Nyack
F – Hunter Quilty, Sr., Clarkstown South
MF – Mike Dolce, Sr., Suffern
MF – Nathan Frigge, Sr., Suffern
MF – Karlyl Simon, Sr., Spring Valley
D – Chris Aherne, Jr., North Rockland
D – Ben Dirocco, Sr., Nyack
D – Tim Ehardt, Sr., Tappan Zee
D – Dave Wolfson, Sr., Suffern
Ronnie Crover, Sr., North Rockland; Chris Filor, Sr., North Rockland; Austin Maggiolo, Sr., Pearl River; Rooben Michel, Jr., Spring Valley; Matt Neroda, Jr., Pearl River; Christian Obernesser, Sr., Clarkstown North; Scott Schwartz, Jr., Suffern; Bradley Studnitzer, Sr., Clarkstown South; Mike Sullivan, Jr., Nyack; Mike Trinkoff, Sr., Tappan Zee; Jorge Vasquez, Sr., Spring Valley