While our Rockland player of the year decision didn’t take very long, the Westchester/Putnam award — where there are nearly six times as many teams to choose from — wasn’t quite as obvious.
Often times, our decision is based on which player stepped up the most in the postseason to lead his team to a title, and for that reason, I strongly considered Rye Neck sophomore forward Luis Galeano. He went on a tear in the playoffs to lead the Panthers to a Class B title. I also considered Mamaroneck senior goalkeeper Thomas Orgielewicz, who led a Tigers’ team that didn’t have nearly as much offensive firepower as it did a year ago even further in the playoffs thanks to a total of 12 shutouts. Port Chester’s Steven Hernandez, Byram Hills’ Payton Levine and Valhalla’s Kaio DaSilva were in the mix — among others — but it ultimately came down to this: If you’re an opposing coach, who is the last player that you’d want to game plan around? And for most coaches in Section 1, the answer was Lakeland junior Johnny Denis.
Denis ran away with the Section 1 scoring title thanks to a ridiculous total of 31 goals, notching six hat tricks while terrorizing opposing defenses. Arguably no player in the section is as dangerous with the ball at his feet, and his total skill-set may be unmatched in the area. As the year went on, he became the most marked man in the section, which is always a strong indication of how well you’re playing. The coaches named him as the Section 1 large school player of the year, and that cemented my decision. And the bad news for the rest of the section is that he still has one more year to go.
CLICK HERE to read my full story on Denis’ memorable season. And here are the rest of The Journal News first-team all-stars…
F — Luis Galeano, Rye Neck: The sophomore burst onto the scene after missing out on the 2013 high school campaign to play for a U.S. Academy team, scoring 21 goals — including six in the playoffs — to lead the Panthers to a surprise Class B title.
F — Juan Giraldo, Mamaroneck: The senior was the top weapon on the highest-ranked team in Westchester, scoring 11 goals and adding nine assists to lead the Tigers to the Class AA section final.
F — Sebastian Lopez, Carmel: Few strikers were as dynamic as the Rams’ senior, who poured in 18 goals with 13 assists despite dealing with consistent double and triple teams.
MF — Owen Azrak, Fox Lane: The senior was the key cog in the middle of the field for the Foxes, scoring 13 goals and assisting on 11 to lead his team to an upset of two-time defending champ Arlington and a trip to the Class AA semis.
MF — Steven Hernandez, Port Chester: Still only a junior, Hernandez is already one of the most accomplished and feared players in the section. He had 13 goals and 11 assists in his fourth year on varsity to lead the Rams to the Class AA semis.
MF — Ari Leffell, Solomon Schechter: The leader of a Lions team that has won two Class C titles in the last three seasons, the senior concluded his career with 15 goals and 17 assists — including the first two goals of the section final.
D — Kaio DaSilva, Valhalla: The Section 1 small school player of the year was the anchor of the Vikings’ defense, but displayed his versatility by moving up to forward for stretches, chipping in with nine goals, including six that either tied the score or put Valhalla ahead.
D — Leo Fisher, White Plains: The senior’s combination of speed, height and athleticism made him one of the most highly skilled defenders in Section 1 and the Tigers’ leader in the back for the past few seasons.
D — Payton Levine, Byram Hills: The senior epitomized the Bobcats’ interchangeable team by switching from forward to defense for the final 12 games, which coincided with Byram’s run to Class A sectional and regional titles. He contributed eight goals and four assists while shutting down opposing teams with rare speed and savvy on the back line.
GK — Thomas Orgielewicz, Mamaroneck: In a deep pool of goalkeepers, the senior stood out in the playoffs — he didn’t allow a goal until the section final. He finished with 12 shutouts and allowed just 10 goals in 20 games for an average of 0.5.
Coach of the year — Matty Allen, Byram Hills: The 15-year coach had won four Class A section titles prior to ’14, but this year was arguably his best coaching job. Allen took a team that was hit harder by U.S. Academy teams than any other in the section and led them from 5-5 at the midway point of the season to 12 straight wins, including sectional and regional titles.
F — Sam Aherne, Jr., Bronxville
F — Bennett Kramer, Sr., Byram Hills
F — Luis Morales, Sr., Port Chester
MF — Austin Capasso, Jr., Eastchester
MF — Aidan Datene, Sr., Hen Hud
MF — Jonny Dorf, Sr., Scarsdale
MF — Alexander Goldman, Sr., Edgemont
D — Otavio Basso, Sr., Pelham
D — Luis Lua, Sr., New Rochelle
D — Anton Sterlini, Sr., Hen Hud
GK — Mike Bernardi, Sr., Mahopac
Honorable mention: Kevin Aguirre, Sr., Port Chester; Osvaldo Almiron, Sr., White Plains; Yeison Banegas, Sr., Mamaroneck; Sal Barragon, Sr., Saunders; Joao Barreto, Sr., Irvington; Will Bennett, Sr., Somers; Joseph Blasetti, Sr., Eastchester; Jacob Braham, Sr., Yorktown; Abdul Byabusha, Sr., Ossining; Capy Charles, Jr., Hamilton; Will Colwell, Jr., Rye; Michael Crawford, Sr., Bronxville; Cesar Cruz, Sr., Yonkers; Charlie Doany, Sr., John Jay; Aidan Draper, Sr., Haldane; Sam Farman, Sr., Irvington; Will Galeano, Sr., Rye Neck; Noah Goldberg, Sr., Solomon Schechter; Jack Green, Sr., Mamaroneck; Barrett Gumina, Sr., Briarcliff; Mohamed Hamza, Sr., Yorktown; Gabe Harousseau, Sr., Scarsdale; Misael Jimenez, Soph., New Rochelle; Prince Kermue, Sr., Woodlands; Jonathan Kyriakidis, So., Pleasantville; Cristian Lazaro, Sr., Peekskill; Zack Lichtman, Sr., Somers; Eddie Livingstone, Sr., Pelham; Valmend Marki, Jr., Lincoln; Matt Neuberger, Jr., Horace Greeley; Josh Newman, Sr., Edgemont; Lucas Pereira, Sr., Hastings; Juan Rivera, Jr., Fox Lane; Daniel Rosenbaum, Sr., Blind Brook; Isaac Sanabria, Sr., Fox Lane; Marcello Spiniello, Jr., Yorktown; Cole Tannor, Sr., Byram Hills; Yuto Tobin, Sr., Valhalla; Miguel Tunas, Sr., North Salem; Kenta Wakimoto, Sr., Keio; Ross Weinfeld, Sr., Byram Hills; J.D. Wilson, Sr., Mamaroneck; Daniel Yawman, Sr., Sleepy Hollow.
Fan-selected all-star team
F — Jonathan Kyriakidis, So., Pleasantville (34,811 votes)
F — Bennett Kramer, Sr., Byram Hills (5,854 votes)
F — Luis Galeano, So., Rye Neck (5,131 votes)
MF — Steven Hernandez, Jr., Port Chester (31,201 votes)
MF — Austin Capasso, Jr., Eastchester (16,856 votes)
MF — Aidan Datene, Sr., Hen Hud (4,478 votes)
MF — Zack Lichtman, Sr., Somers (2,443 votes)
D — Luis Lua, Sr., New Rochelle (31,360 votes)
D — Payton Levine, Sr., Byram Hills (19,055 votes)
D — Ross Weinfeld, Sr., Byram Hills (12,867 votes)
GK — Joseph Blasetti, Sr., Eastchester (13,582 votes)
Photo and video by Matthew Brown/The Journal News