Pearl River’s season may have ended in heartbreak when the Pirates were upset as the No. 1 seed by Eastchester in the Class A quarterfinals, but when it came to Rockland County competition, PR was on its own level.
The Pirates breezed through the regular season, going undefeated for the first time in program history. They were young up front, but leaned on a veteran defense that played at a very high level from start to finish. Pearl River allowed a Section 1-best six goals all season — playoffs included — and the leader in the back was senior Vincenzo Galvano.
It’s not too often that you see a defender claim a player of the year award, but as I asked opposing coaches who they believed was the most deserving, Galvano was pretty much a unanimous decision. He was arguably the most vocal and effective leader in the section, a player that coach Damon O’Keefe called, “the best captain I’ve ever coached in any sport.” He was capable of shutting down any striker in a one-on-one matchup, as we saw when he held eventual Westchester/Putnam player of the year and leading scorer in the section Johnny Denis off the board in a 3-1 win over Lakeland. And he was the Pirates’ go-to guy on set pieces, leading the team with 12 assists. Everything that you could ask for from a defender, Galvano gave it to Pearl River.
CLICK HERE to read my story on Galvano’s tremendous season. And here are the rest of The Journal News’ first-team all-stars…
F— Marco Batista, Tappan Zee: The senior unselfishly moved to midfield after two seasons as the team’s top striker, where he still led the Dutchmen with eight goals while maintaining his high work rate.
F — Walter Funes, Clarkstown North: After missing out on the Class AA playoffs last year, the Rams were much more competitive thanks in large part to the junior forward, whom opposing coaches considered their most dangerous player.
F — Myles Solan, Suffern: Only a sophomore, Solan was the most explosive offensive threat for the Mounties and wasn’t afraid to distribute, leading the team with nine assists. The speedster has only scratched the surface of his potential.
MF — Mark Russell, Pearl River: The junior was the leading scorer for the best team in the county, finishing with 11 goals, with several coming off of Galvano set pieces. He was also a defensive asset who excelled at winning 50-50 balls.
MF — Sam Studnitzer, Clarkstown South: Coach Michael Ludwig said the senior “will go down as one of the top midfielders South has seen.” His strength on the ball allowed him to create offense from the middle of the field.
MF — Tyler Yassky, Nyack: A three-year starter, the senior was the engine that made the Indians go, combining toughness and skill to lead a young team that surprised John Jay in the Class A outbracket round.
D — James Hennessy, Tappan Zee: With the Dutchmen facing the daunting task of replacing their entire back line from ’13, the junior moved from his central midfield position to defense and excelled. TZ allowed less than a goal per game this season.
D — Max Ranzato, Suffern: The senior was the undisputed leader of a Mounties team that rebounded after a down year to win a League II-B title. The three-year starter was named league MVP after moving from right back to center back.
D — Brendan Valentine, Pearl River: Galvano’s partner in crime was called “the silent leader of our back line” by O’Keefe, as the senior helped lead a tremendous defense that allowed a Section 1-best six goals all season.
GK — Brendan Madden, North Rockland: While playing on a team that scored only 20 goals all season, the senior held strong in tight games by allowing just 13. He had six shutouts and almost singlehandedly upset Scarsdale in the Class AA first round with 17 saves.
Coach of the year — Damon O’Keefe, Pearl River: No team in the county this season could hang with the Pirates, who completed the first undefeated regular season in program history. O’Keefe leaned on an experienced defense and found a way to make it work offensively with a young but talented cast of characters.
F — Dylan Allum, Sr., Clarkstown North
F — Adam Gloskin, Jr., Clarkstown South
F — Craig MacDonald, Soph., Pearl River
MF — Andrew Blutig, Jr., Nanuet
MF — Sean Coughlan, Jr., Pearl River
MF — Paul Kanburiyan, Sr., Albertus Magnus
MF — Christian Ohanian, Sr., North Rockland
D — Brian Calderon, Sr., Nyack
D — Steven Litaker, Sr., Clarkstown South
D — Stephen Reynolds, Sr., North Rockland
GK — Vincent Pepe, Sr., Tappan Zee
Honorable mention: Emmanuel Anyane-Yeboa, Sr., Spring Valley; Mark Bologovsky, Sr., Nanuet; Erik Damas, Sr., Ramapo; Lugueni Desrosiers, Jr., Spring Valley; Kevin Doorley, Soph., Pearl River; Ethan Dowie, Sr., Pearl River; Zack Gloskin, Soph., Clarkstown South; Danny Lopez, Soph., North Rockland; Connor O’Brien, Soph., Clarkstown South; Dan McQuillan, Sr., Suffern; Brian Murphy, Sr., North Rockland; Daiton Powell, Sr., Suffern; Liam Powers, Jr., Suffern; Jack Samett, Soph., Tappan Zee; Hector Sandoval, Sr., Nyack; Tom Schember, Jr., Suffern; Cole Spagnoli, Sr., Clarkstown North; Dante Tamburri, Sr., North Rockland.
Fan-selected all-star team
F — Adam Gloskin, Jr., Clarkstown South (4,514 votes)
F — Brian Murphy, Sr., North Rockland (3,509 votes)
F — Craig MacDonald, Soph., Pearl River (596 votes)
MF — Christian Ohanian, Sr., North Rockland (10,200 votes)
MF — Pat Dentico, Sr., North Rockland (7,101 votes)
MF — Marco Batista, Sr., Tappan Zee (1,690 votes)
MF — Andrew Blutig, Jr., Nanuet (619 votes)
D — Steven Litaker, Sr., Clarkstown South (8,373 votes)
D — Max Ranzato, Sr., Suffern (2,661 votes)
D — Dan McQuillan, Suffern (1,003 votes)
GK — Vincent Pepe, Sr., Tappan Zee (15,004 votes)
Photo and video by Peter Carr/The Journal News