By John Boell
NEWSDAY PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Aidan Lodie, West Islip, M, Jr.
In a season where a handful of players could have taken home the Newsday Player of the Year award, Lodie stood above the rest, especially in critical moments and the playoffs. He was tied for sixth in Suffolk with 21 goals and added 11 assists. Of those points, seven goals and six assists were winning scores — meaning he had the winning goal or assist in 13 of West Islip’s 20 victories against some of the top programs in Suffolk Class AA. Lodie also had six goals and five assists for West Islip (20-2-1) during the Lions’ postseason run as they outscored their opponents, 25-5, in seven games. "Aidan is a dynamic soccer player," Lions coach Eddie Pieron said. "His commitment and dedication pushed all his teammates to be better players this season."
NASSAU PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Edison Arias Velasquez, Westbury, F, Sr.
There aren’t many things Velasquez can’t do on a soccer field. The senior center forward had 14 goals and eight assists, including two goals in the Green Dragons’ Nassau final victory. He added a goal and an assist in Westbury’s loss to eventual state champion West Islip. "He’s so strong on the ball he can create things for others," coach Chris Valentini said. "He does an amazing job with our passing combinations . . . sometimes he drops into a false ‘9’ [center forward position] and leaves space for his teammates to use. He’s so unselfish." So what will Valentini miss most about Velasquez? "His smile," he said. "He’s such a good kid. He’s hard-working, he’s always happy, and he doesn’t complain, ever."
CATHOLIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: James Cooney, Chaminade, M, Sr.
Cooney could play just about any position for the Flyers. "He can do whatever you ask him to do," Chaminade coach Mike Gallagher said. "He’s a pretty amazing talent. He brings a tenacity and all the other good things to the table. He’s a special kid." Cooney, who had seven goals and two assists, scored the lone goal in the state semifinal win against St. Francis Prep. Also, he was the CHSAA MVP this season as Chaminade (16-4-1) won its ninth state title. "He is the most coachable kid," Gallagher said. "You ask him to do something, and he’ll do it to the best of his ability."
Joey Blackton, West Islip, M, Sr.
He finished tied for third in Suffolk with 22 goals to go with nine assists. Blackton and Lodie formed an incredible 1-2 punch that pushed the Lions to their first boys soccer state crown.
Jake Friedman, St. Anthony’s, F, Sr.
Friedman had 12 goals and 15 assists to lead the CHSAA in both scoring and points.
Finn Connolly, Garden City, F, Sr.
He scored one of the best goals of the season when he ripped a rocket from about 25 yards out that sent Garden City into the Long Island Class A title game. Connolly had 10 goals and eight assists.
Juan Gomez, Brentwood, M, Sr.
Brentwood coach Ron Eden said during the season that Gomez was one of the best players he’s ever coached; that’s high praise from the longtime Brentwood skipper. The Division I prospect had 14 goals and 16 assists.
Juan Ponce, Amityville, M, Sr.
Ponce is one of the most dynamic players on Long Island. He tallied 17 goals and 18 assists. Despite missing his junior season, Ponce finished a remarkable five-year career at Amityville with 45 goals and 58 assists.
Brian Rivas Torres, Westbury, M, Sr.
People who watched Westbury realized how important Rivas Torres was to the Green Dragons’ attack. The senior had six goals and two assists, and also started Westbury’s offense from his midfield position.
Matthew Salinas, Glen Cove, M/F, Sr.
Salinas had 25 goals and eight assists in his varsity career and was named the Nassau Conference A2 Defensive Player of the Year. The Division I prospect played a major role in why the Big Red reached the Nassau Class A final.
Tommy Wagner, Commack, D, Sr.
Wagner was the Suffolk League III MVP and scored 22 goals with 11 assists from his center back position. He led the Cougars to a 46-5-1 mark as a three-year starter, and also helped Commack win a Suffolk crown in the spring of 2021.
SUFFOLK COACH OF THE YEAR: Eddie Pieron, West Islip
The 18th-year Lions head coach is a self-described "tinkerer" with his lineups and formations and "worrier" in general. But this season, Pieron and his staff — including Brian Cameron and Dennis Mazzalonga — did very little shuffling or had much to agonize over as West Islip (20-2-1) captured a Suffolk crown (its second since 1973) and first state title in boys soccer as it outscored its opponents, 10-1, in the state semifinal and final.
NASSAU COACH OF THE YEAR: Chris Valentini, Westbury
The longtime Green Dragons coach guided his squad through, perhaps, one of the most difficult conferences in the state: Nassau Conference AA1. Westbury (11-5-1) finished third in the 15-team division, but rolled in its three playoff games en route to its first Nassau championship.
David Akpan, Brentwood, F, Sr.
Scott Bayardelle, Manhasset, F, Sr.
Bryce Cherry, Amityville, F, Sr.
Colin Gervasi, Carey, D, Sr.
Chrystian Hernandez, Glen Cove, M/F, Sr.
Andre Insalaco, Westhampton, F, Sr.
Kevin Johnson, Connetquot, M, Sr.
Konstantinos Karousis, Mepham, M, Jr.
Kuba Kodym, Mattituck, M, Jr.
Timothy McQueeney, Shoreham/Wading River, M, Sr.
Lucas Montalto, Babylon, M/F, Sr.
Cole Nevins, Syosset, GK, Sr.
Francesco Pavano, Chaminade, M, Sr.
Arvin Pereira, Westbury, M, Sr.
Cole Pergan, Smithtown East, M, Sr.
Christian Pica, Garden City, M, Jr.
Angelo Puerto-Quintanilla, Lawrence, F, Sr.
Daniel Alzate Rodrigo, Huntington, GK, Sr.
Sawyer Wayne, Syosset, D, Soph.
Julian Weber, Glenn, GK, Sr.