One of the moments that really stuck with me this year was the look on Nick Tunic’s face after Mamaroneck routed Scarsdale in front of a raucous Friday night crowd early in the season. That was the first chance that I had to see Tunic play and I couldn’t help but wonder, where the heck did this guy come from? His knack for finding the back of the net was as good as any player that I saw this season, and the Tigers really seemed to find another gear with him in the fold. When I spoke to him after the game and got the full scoop, he talked about what a thrill it was to play in a game like that. Tunic had been forced to sit out the past two seasons while playing U.S. Academy soccer, but it meant everything to him to be able to get back on the field with his friends and in front of his peers.
It’s impossible to ignore the impact that Tunic had on Mamaroneck. The Tigers were the most consistent team in the Westchester/Putnam area, and didn’t lose until the Class AA semis, when Tunic was forced to play less than half of the game due to an ankle injury. He led the team with 24 goals and scored in all but two games, becoming one of the most feared strikers in Section 1. He emerged as the most obvious choice for player of the year, but perhaps of equal importance is what he represented. It meant the world to Tunic to get back on a high school field before he graduated to represent his school and his community, and he did it with a passion that rubbed off on those around him. He took a path that I’m sure many high school coaches would like to see others in the future pursue when it comes to the controversial academy soccer rules.
The rest of The Journal News first-team all-stars:
GK – Mike Bernardi, Mahopac: With a long wingspan and a perfect build for the position, the All-Section junior emerged as arguably the best keeper in Section 1 this season, putting up 10 shutouts in 18 games and allowing just 0.6 goals per game.
F – David Lachs, Byram Hills: The All-State senior came on strong at the end of the season, recording hat tricks in each of the Bobcats’ first two playoff games to give himself a total of 24 goals. He also added 11 assists.
F – Ben Ovetsky, Irvington: The Section 1 small school player of the year has been the most consistent scoring force among Class B teams for the past few years, scoring 23 goals this season to give himself a career total of 81. The Binghamton-bound senior also added eight assists.
MF – John Denis, Lakeland: The All-State sophomore burst onto the scene this season to lead the Hornets with 14 goals and 10 assists. The League I-B MVP’s field vision and ability on set pieces should make him a force in years to come.
MF – Kensuke Hirai, Keio: No midfielder could score like the All-Section senior, who recorded three hat tricks and finished the season with 24 goals. He controlled the middle of the field and was named MVP of League III-C.
MF – Charlie Livingstone, Pelham: While the Pelicans were dealing with mounting injuries during the regular season, the All-Section senior midfielder was a constant. He kept the ship afloat during some tough times, leading the team with 15 goals and nine assists on the way to Pelham’s first section title in 19 years.
MF – Tom Young, Edgemont: The All-Section senior was the glue for the Panthers, leading the team with 15 goals and 11 assists. The Williams College-bound playmaker finished his career with 45 goals and 34 assists, and was also named MVP of League II-E.
D – Kaio DaSilva, Valhalla: The All-State sophomore made the switch from forward to center back and anchored a defense that allowed only 15 goals in 18 games. He was named the League III-A MVP.
D – Sam Ganeles, Byram Hills: The All-Section senior was known for his make-up speed and vocal ability on the field, leading a defense that allowed just seven goals in 19 games and pitched 13 shutouts. He’ll play a Trinity College next year.
D – Matt Wagner, Bronxville: The All-State senior anchored a defense that lost its starting goalkeeper to injury, helping the Broncos get to the Class B final. Wagner was a three-year starter.
Coach of the Year – Jozef Pomoryn, Blind Brook: After leading the Trojans to consecutive Class B titles with the help of back-to-back Section 1 small school players of the year in Lucas McBride (2011) and Ben Seguljic (2012), Pomoryn guided Blind Brook to a third straight championship this season without any true star power. With a workmen-like group, the Trojans were able to continue the dynasty.
GK – Jack Weitzman, Sr., Byram Hills
F – Aidan Draper, Jr., Haldane
F – Prince Kermue, Jr., Woodlands
F – Connor Murphy, Sr., North Salem
MF – Emmet Gaffney, Sr., Mamaroneck
MF – Alex Gaujean, Sr., Scarsdale
MF – Steven Hernandez, Soph., Port Chester
MF – Zach Salzman, Sr., Horace Greeley
D – Leo Fisher, Jr., White Plains
D – Elver Maldonado, Sr., Mamaroneck
D – Jon Pinto, Sr., Lakeland
Honorable mention: Alejandro Alvarez, Sr., Ossining; Owen Azrak, Sr., Fox Lane; Liam Bradley, Sr., Horace Greeley; Alex Briganti, Sr., Valhalla; Patrick Burns, Sr., Yorktown; Conor Butler, Sr., Mahopac; Henry Carmel, Sr., Bronxville; Conor Cassidy, Sr., Brewster; Carmine Cicchillo, Sr., Westlake; Aidan Datene, Sr., Hen Hud; Joseph DiBerardino, Sr., Blind Brook; Devin Flanagan, Jr., Lakeland; Juan Giraldo, Jr., Mamaroneck; Mohamad Hamza, Jr., Yorktown; Nick Kyriakidis, Sr., Pleasantville; Cristian Lazaro, Jr., Peekskill; Ari Leffell, Jr., Solomon Schechter; Dan Lilling, Sr., Dobbs Ferry; Eddie Livingstone, Jr., Pelham; Sebastian Lopez, Jr., Carmel; Kevin Louie, Sr., Briarcliff; Brett Lowrie, Sr., North Salem; Jay Marchese, Sr., Haldane; Niels Mariager, Sr., Scarsdale; Aidan Murray, Sr., Pelham; Josh Newman, Jr., Edgemont; Shotaro Oikawa, Sr., Rye Neck; Lee Owen, Sr., Hastings; Isaac Sanabria, Soph., Fox Lane; Shusuke Sato, Sr., Keio; Adam Siff, Jr., Horace Greeley; Matt Streichler, Soph., Blind Brook; Marvin Tovar, Sr., Riverside; Scott Wurtzel, Sr., Blind Brook; Derlis Zayas, Sr., White Plains.
Photos by Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News