In my three full seasons of covering boys soccer, this was by far the toughest player of the year decision that I’ve had to make in Rockland. There were four worthy candidates — Pearl River’s Chris Coughlan, Spring Valley’s Karlyl Simon, TZ’s Juan Umana and North Rockland’s Chris Aherne — and each brought something different to the table. It’s awfully hard to compare players who play different positions, but after conferring with all of the coaches in the county and putting a lot of thought into it, I felt that Coughlan had to be the choice.
As you can read in today’s paper, it was Coughlan’s versatility that ultimately led to my decision. I think most coaches would have told you that he was the best returning defender in the county this season, but with the Pirates having a void to fill in the central midfield, the senior captain stepped up and hit it out of the park. Not only did he remain a strong defensive presence, often being asked to mark the opposing team’s top player, but he ended up leading the team in goals. Coach Damon O’Keefe knew that Coughlan could help offensively, but I’m sure in his wildest dreams he never thought that he would end up scoring more than anyone else on the team. He was the do-it-all force on the best team in the county and the biggest reason that Pearl River was able to reach its first section final in 18 years.
The rest of The Journal News first-team all-stars:
GK – Juan Umana, Tappan Zee: Despite not being the prototypical goalkeeper in terms of size and stature, the All-Section senior made up for it with quickness and instincts. He had a goals against average of 0.82, including nine shutouts, or a shutout in half of the Dutchmen’s games.
F – Lens Alexis, Ramapo: The senior striker became one of the most lethal scorers in the county this season and led the Gryphons in goals — including netting both in a 2-1 win over Suffern in the Class AA outbracket round.
F – Brian Chiarello, Pearl River: The All-Section senior controlled the offensive attack for the Class A finalist Pirates with his quick style of play, finishing the season with 10 goals and 11 assists despite drawing consistent double teams.
F – Kevin Quito, Spring Valley: The Tigers knew that they had a deep midfield, but the All-Section senior solidified the striker position with 16 goals and 18 assists, helping his team finish 13-4.
MF – Bryan Martinez, North Rockland: The unselfish senior started the year as a midfielder, but moved back to play sweeper after an injury to the starter. His leadership helped the Red Raiders allow just 12 goals in the regular season and pitch seven shutouts
MF – Rooben Michel, Spring Valley: The All-Section senior led the county in goals with 25, giving the Tigers a three-headed scoring punch that rattled off 10 straight midseason wins.
MF – Karlyl Simon, Spring Valley: On a team loaded with offensive talent, the All-State senior stood out as the glue that held it all together. He led the county in assists with 19 while also chipping in 10 goals, sparking the most explosive attack in Rockland.
D – Chris Aherne, North Rockland: A big, tall stopper who moves well and excels at winning 50/50 balls in the air, the All-Section senior helped the Red Raiders clinch another League IV-A title. He also showed his offensive presence and led the team with eight goals and five assists.
D – Matt Neroda, Pearl River: The All-Section senior was the most vocal player on the field from his center back position, leading a defense that allowed just nine goals all season and helped the Pirates reach their first section final since 1995.
D – Jon Zajonc, Nyack: The All-Section senior moved from the midfield to center back this season, leading a defense that posted eight shutouts to go along with a 0.88 goals against average.
Coach of the year – Jon Jacobs, Tappan Zee: The first-year head coach led the Dutchmen on a dramatic turnaround, guiding them to a 12-win season and a share of the League IV-B title just one season after they failed to even qualify for the Class A playoffs.
GK – Brendan Madden, Jr., North Rockland
F – Franz Point Du-Jour, Sr., Ramapo
F – Andrew Pellechia, Sr., Clarkstown North
MF – Devin Doran, Jr., Tappan Zee
MF – Brandon Healy, Sr., Tappan Zee
MF – Sam Studnitzer, Jr., Clarkstown South
MF – Mike Sullivan, Sr., Nyack
D – Vincenzo Galvano, Jr., Pearl River
D – Charles Giordano, Sr., Albertus Magnus
D – Max Ranzato, Jr., Suffern
D – Gabe Rivera, Sr., Nyack
Honorable mention: Marco Batista, Jr., Tappan Zee; Ian Danahy, Sr., Clarkstown South; Eddie Fanning, Sr., Nanuet; Mark Goodall, Jr., North Rockland; Pat Guerin, Sr., Pearl River; Guerson Jocelyn, Sr., Spring Valley; Paul Kanburiyan, Jr., Albertus Magnus; Maycoll Marroquin; Sr., Spring Valley; Christian Ohanian, Sr., North Rockland; John Salto, Sr., North Rockland; Brendan Valentine, Jr., Pearl River.
Photos by Peter Carr/The Journal News