Player of the Week: Byram Hills’ Brandon Drossman

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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…

Jason Collins’ revelation seen as a positive step by locals

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In response to NBA veteran Jason Collins’ decision to come out publicly on Monday, I reached out to several local athletes and coaches to get their opinions on his decision. About three years ago, I wrote a story on former Hen Hud star tennis and softball player Rachel Buckner, who went through her high school years as an openly gay athlete. She offered unique perspective, as did several others, about how they would react to a gay teammate and how they view Collins’ announcement as a positive step toward acceptance.  Well before NBA veteran Jason Collins came out as openly gay on…

Rockland schools decide to stay put in Section 1

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The news came out last fall that all 11 schools in Rockland county were considering a move from Section 1 to Section 9 due to transportation concerns—among others—but it was confirmed on Monday that a decision has been made to stay put. This is very good news for Section 1 from a competitive standpoint, and it seems to be a relief for many coaches and players around Rockland who have grown fond of the rivalries and relationships built with other Section 1 schools across the river. Meanwhile, the schools in Dutchess county continue to explore the…

Section 1 awaiting answers regarding Kennedy’s future

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Here is my colleague Nancy Haggerty’s story updating the status of Kennedy athletics. The Gaels are considering a move to the CHSAA, but Section 1 officials say they have yet to receive any definitive answers: Kennedy Catholic High School will receive a letter in the coming days demanding a final decision on whether it will keep its sports teams in Section 1. With the section finalizing schedules, Kennedy spokesman Alex Malecki said Wednesday no decision about moving its teams to the Catholic High School Athletic Association had been made and Kennedy had no comment about the forthcoming letter. Section 1…

Taylor Washington’s long road toward diagnosis and treatment

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I wanted to share a piece from my colleague Nancy Haggerty which goes well beyond your typical soccer story. Former Rye Country Day all-American Taylor Washington has been on a tumultuous ride since graduating in 2011, as it has become clear that he spent the majority of his academic life with undiagnosed dyslexia. Washington was considered one of the best soccer players to come from this area in quite some time, which earned him scholarship offers from many Division 1 colleges. He settled on Boston University, where he quickly earned playing time, but his struggles in the classroom led to…

Local coaches weigh in on sibling rivalries

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In light of the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, facing off in this Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, I asked some local coaches who have siblings that also coach in the area to weigh in. While putting the story together, I found that it’s been rare in recent history for two brothers or sisters to coach against each other. Of course, the royal family of football coaches in Section 1 is the DeMatteos (pictured above with mother Cealia), where brothers Tony (head coach at Roosevelt for 31 years; current Somers coach) and…

Rockland coaches react to potential move; Section 9 officials receptive

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In the wake of the news that Rockland ADs are exploring the possibility of moving back to Section 9 for the 2014-15 school year, I set out to gather some opinions on the potential switch. I spoke with a handful of prominent coaches from around the county on Tuesday, and got a pretty similar impression from all of them – they’d rather stay put. There’s something to be said about the comfort and stability of competing against the schools that you’ve developed relationships with over the years, and they all like the idea of coming from a deep section that…

Rockland ADs discussing move to Section 9

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I started hearing rumors from some coaches in the know late last week that the possibility of all 11 Rockland county schools moving to Section 9 is being discussed. Rockland made the move from Section 9 to Section 1 in 1983, and have combined with teams from Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties to form one of the most competitive sections in the state. Now, with plans in place for a new Tappan Zee Bridge, there is concern about traveling logistics and increased costs. That’s the main reason that the change is being discussed, but it’s impossible not to ponder how…

A look ahead to 2013

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With the new year just around the corner, I’m already looking towards the future. As I try to do each season, I’ve gone through many, many rosters in the last few weeks to identify which teams look like they have the most talent coming back for next season. This usually works out best right after the season ends so that everything is still fresh in my mind. Of course, these days with soccer there’s always the chance that a player who you think is coming back could get swooped up by an academy team, but I’ve gone ahead and listed…

The Journal News 2012 All-Stars

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I guess you could say that I have a thing for goalkeepers. With my all-star announcements coming out in today’s edition of The Journal News, three of the four players of the year that I’ve selected have been goalies, which may serve as further proof that keeper is the most important position on the field. Or, it could just mean that we’ve had some very good ones in Section 1 in the past two seasons. The Journal News 2012 Westchester/Putnam player of the year is Blind Brook goalkeeper Ben Seguljic (pictured above). For me, this decision came down to Seguljic or…

All-star announcements coming in Sunday’s paper

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I wanted to quickly remind everyone that our complete 2012 All-Star package will be announced in tomorrow’s edition of The Journal News. It will include my players and coaches of the year from each side of the river, plus complete all-stars broken up into first-team, second-team and honorable mention. There were many tough decisions to make, but as always, I put a lot of thought into the entire package and reached out to some of the more knowledgeable sources in the section for input. I’ll post the entire packages on the blog tomorrow, but make sure to pick up a…

Poll: Who should be the Rockland player of the year?

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After a week of voting for the Westchester/Putnam player of the year, it’s clear that the Port Chester faithful came out strong for goalkeeper Jose Gonzalez, as the senior finished with 48 percent of the vote. Now, you’ll all have to wait until Sunday when my full all-star package will run for the actual winner, which gives us close to a week to get your opinion on who should be the player of the year across the bridge. I usually do four nominees, but I think there was a pretty clear top three this season, so we’ll stick with them.…

All-Section dinner: Berry, Seguljic named players of the year

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The announcements were made for several awards at last night’s All-Section dinner, with some of the top performers from this past season being recognized. Before I get to those, on a personal note, I want to thank Matty Allen and the entire Section 1 coaches association for the recognition last night. It’s been a pleasure working with all of you coaches and covering all of you athletes for the past two seasons. I’m not kidding when I say I had no idea that was coming. Without further ado, here are your Section 1 award-winners: The Gary Montalto Award: Section I…

Poll: Who should be the Westchester/Putnam player of the year?

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With the soccer season drawing to a conclusion after Sunday’s state title games, it’s time to start thinking about postseason awards. I’ll be heading to the All-Section dinner tonight at Colonial Terrace, where they will announce the big school and small school players of the year, but I have a bit more time to make my decisions. If you ask me, the toughest one to call is Westchester/Putnam player of the year, where there are several deserving candidates. I’ll list the top four in my opinion, and then let you guys have it out in the voting. • Jon Berry,…

Arlington ends a four-year state title drought for Section 1

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With Arlington’s 2-1 win over Brentwood in Sunday’s Class AA state title game at Faller Field and Port Chester’s Class A finals trip, I think it’s safe to say that Section 1 is back on the boys soccer map statewide. The section did not fare well last season, with none of its four section champions even making it out of regionals. This year’s success was a drastic turnaround — a clear message that there is very competitive soccer being played in this portion of New York state. Prior to Arlington’s title, the last state championship won by a Section 1…

“We never gave up”

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Ten minutes into Port Chester’s Class A state final at Faller Field on Sunday against defending state champ Jericho, it looked like things could get ugly. The Rams had surrendered two quick goals, and found themselves facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit against a team that has been regarded as the best in the state all season. Incredibly, PC responded and played 30 minutes of stellar soccer to close out the first half. The Rams had Jericho on its heels for the majority of the half, controlling possession and creating several opportunities. Ultimately, PC found out the hard way that it…

Port Chester starts flat, rallies, but falls short in state final

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Despite a valiant effort after a near disastrous start, Port Chester came up just short in its bid for the first state title in school history at Faller Field on Sunday, losing to Jericho 2-1 in the Class A state final. The Rams were flat to start the game, uncharacteristically allowing two goals in the first 10 minutes. But Port Chester responded with heart and determination, as Bryan Suertegaray scored on a header off of an Alexis Valdovinos corner kick  in the 14th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Rams controlled the pace and played the rest of…

“They forgot about us”

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The second time that Port Chester’s Preston Higgins came limping off the field, I thought that was it for him. The senior midfielder has been dealing with a stomach virus all week, and a nagging ankle injury made running and cutting a struggle. He had come off of the field once in each half during Saturday’s Class A state semifinal against Fowler at Faller Field, but after a brief stint on bench each time, he was back up and into the game. Good thing for the Rams, because he was needed. With Port Chester facing the possibility of sudden elimination…

Higgins’ OT goal sends Port Chester to Class A state title game

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Port Chester advanced to the New York state Class A state championship game with a 2-1 win over Section 3 champ Fowler at Faller Field in Middletown on Saturday. Preston Higgins headed in a long pass from Alexis Valdovinos with 6:06 remaining in the first overtime period for the golden goal. Fowler struck first in the 11th minute on a controversial foul call that led to a penalty kick, which Jean-Paul Mboyo netted for a 1-0 lead. PC responded right away, with William Ribiero scoring in the 13th minute to tie it at 1-1. The Rams dominated possession throughout the…

Scouting report: Port Chester vs. Fowler

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Class A state semifinal Port Chester (18-1-2) vs. Fowler (19-1) When: Saturday, 11 a.m. Where: Faller Field at Middletown High School Key players: Port Chester — Steven Hernandez, Fr., F; Jose Gonzalez, Sr., GK; Preston Higgins, Sr., MF; Bryan Suertegaray, Sr., D; Alexis Valdovinos, Sr., D; William Ribiero, Sr., MF. Fowler — Abdulkareem Abdulkareem, Jr., F; Abdullah Abdulkareem, Fr., GK; Vincent Ndabaruta, Sr., MF; Jean-Paul Mboyo, Soph., F; Yahiya Donzo, Jr., D. Outlook: Both of these teams come in relying heavily on freshmen. For the Rams, that would be Hernandez, who has scored the go-ahead goal in each of Port Chester’s five…

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