Following a week filled with clutch playoff performances, the task of selecting one #lohudsoccer Player of the Week was not an easy one. Of course, I had to start by looking at the four recently crowned championship teams.
John Jay-East Fishkill certainly had the most difficult road to a title in a loaded Class AA field, but it’s difficult to pinpoint one standout performer for the Patriots in these playoffs. Kevin Turi, Ryan Metz, Nick Liccardi and Dan Figarella each had their moments, but JJEF won it all in large part because of its balance. Solomon Schechter’s Ari Leffell was brilliant in the Class C title game with two set piece goals, but the Lions had a bye into final and therefore only played one game last week. That left two clear candidates.
Rye Neck’s Luis Galeano has already been named #POTW once this season, and his prolific scoring was the biggest key to the Panthers’ surprise run to the Class B title. The sophomore striker had an assist and the game-winning goal in the 70th minute of a 2-1 win at Briarcliff in the quarterfinals, and then scored two go-ahead goals in Rye Neck’s 3-2 upset win over Bronxville in the final, including an unbelievable winner in stoppage time.
But the circumstances for Byram Hills’ Brandon Drossman were even more dramatic.
A bench player for the entire regular season, the senior converted from defense and was inserted in the Bobcats’ starting lineup after star striker Bennett Kramer went down with a hamstring injury in the quarters. All he did was contribute to three game-winning goals this week.
“Drossman has gone from 5-15 minutes a game to 60-70 minutes,” Byram coach Matty Allen said. “He has shown senior leadership with Bennett going down and it’s been apparent, mostly in practice. It seems he has increased his confidence as his playing time has risen.”
Drossman began the week on Monday with the winning assist in a 2-1 comeback win over Pelham in the quarters, but that was just the start. He buried the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Eastchester in the semis, and then saved his best for last. In Sunday’s 3-2 championship game win against Yorktown, Drossman scored twice, including the golden goal four minutes in overtime.
“One man goes down, we have another in line for him,” teammate Ross Weinfeld said. “This whole playoffs, back to Pelham, Drossman has been that guy. He’s been the guy to step up for us, and we saw that again (Sunday).”
Most notably, Drossman’s improbable ascension got Byram Hills back to the top of the mountain in Class A for the first time since 2010. It was the first of five titles under Allen which the Bobcats won without being the No. 1 seed, and it was probably the most unexpected.
“No one really had a lot of faith in us in the beginning of the season,” Drossman said. “We had to prove a lot of the doubters wrong, and I think we really proved it to ourselves that we’re meant to be here.”
Later in the week, I’ll announce our annual All-Tournament teams for each class.
Photo by Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News