It was agonizingly close to a banner season for Queens boys soccer teams this year. In the CHSAA, St. Francis Prep was upset by Iona Prep in the Class A intersectional semifinals and then lost to Chaminade in overtime for the state championship.
Neighboring Francis Lewis reached the PSAL Class A final for the third time in four years, but fell short again, this time in penalty kicks to Beacon. Queens A West champion John Adams, Bayside and William Bryant also reached the quarterfinals, proving the borough’s depth.
All-Queens Player of the Year: Rodolfo Paguada, John Adams
His first two years were as a complementary piece to dynamic finishers, as a central midfielder rather than an all-out attacker. That role changed this fall and Podolfo showed he was more than up to the task, scoring 31 goals — 26 during the regular season — to lead John Adams to the Queens A West crown and guiding the Spartans to the PSAL Class A quarterfinals.
The undersized but dynamic striker was at his best late in matches, winning several games with his feet, including the Spartans’ playoff opener over Lehman with two goals and an assist after halftime of a 3-2 victory and saving the division crown with two goals in a two-all draw with William Bryant.
“Out of nothing, he came in and gave us hope,” John Adams Coach Alex Navarrete said.
One of the city’s few superstars who doesn’t play club soccer, Paguada is also a leader because of his solid academic standing (he has an 80 average) and humble and quiet persona. He was the team’s unquestioned leader, but acted like the final man on the bench in practice.
“He’s a humble kid that doesn’t talk,” Navarrete said. “He just wants to play soccer.”
All-Queens Coach of the Year: Ovid Cusu, Christ the King
It was a bold decision, one questioned by many other CHSAA coaches. Ovid Cusu was moving Christ the King up to Class A and it was believed the Royals would struggle. But Cusu had his extremely young team believing from the first practice that they could surprise the league and quiet the naysayers.
Christ the King did that and more, finishing a respectable 7-10-0 and third place in Brooklyn/Queens, ahead of established programs Holy Cross and Xaverian. The Royals even reached the Class A quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion Iona Prep in overtime. Now, Christ the King is on the soccer map and it’s thanks to Cusu.
D Sebastian Altomarino, Archbishop Molloy
His string of city championships ended at three, but that doesn’t mean Altomarino didn’t have a successful season. A co-captain of Archbishop Molloy, the senior not only anchored a stout Stanners defense, but he was also their vocal leader, guiding Molloy to the Class A semifinals.
MF Danny Bedoya, Francis Lewis
The supremely skilled central midfielder took over ownership of Lewis his junior year, commanding the attack like a quarterback and scoring seven goals and dishing out five assists during the regular season. His best moment was the PSAL Class A semifinal victory over Tottenville when he scored twice and added a helper. This brilliant campaign was just the tip of the iceberg for Bedoya, who Lewis Coach Roger Sarmuksnis considers one of the best players he’s ever coached.
GK Willian Benitez, John Adams
Paguada received all the headlines, but Benitez was arguably as important to the Spartans’ successful season. His emergence in net enabled Jonnatan Mejia to move out to defensive midfield and his brilliant performance against penalty kicks saved a few victories.
F Federico Curbelo, Christ the King
Intimidated by his new surroundings in Class A? Not Curbelo, who had 10 goals and five assists to lead the Royals to a 7-10-0 finish, good for third behind perennial powerhouses St. Francis Prep and Archbishop Molloy in Brooklyn/Queens. The sophomore returns to help anchor a Christ the King team that has high expectations for next season.
GK Chris Herrera, Francis Lewis
The hulking yet agile 6-foot-3 Adelphi-bound keeper was at his best when it matters most, compiling clean sheets in four playoff matches and even scoring four goals himself — one more than he allowed the entire regular season.
MF Chris Joseph, St. Francis Prep
Whenever something happened in the attacking third for St. Francis Prep, Joseph had his fingerprints on it somehow, whether it was making a darting run down the flank or crossing the perfect ball into the box or simply finishing clinically. The diminutive, yet technically gifted junior has a neverending engine and brings it back next season.
D Christian Molano, St. Francis Prep
Calm and confident on the ball, Molano also provided a soothing presence in the back for his St. Francis Prep teammates who knew the junior would clear every ball and win every tackle. The Terriers conceded just seven regular-season goals and Molano, a three-year starter, is a big reason why.
MF Santiago Moore, Bayside
The skilled midfielder with a rocket for a shot came out of nowhere to lead Queens A East in goals scored (14) and assists (14) during the regular season and sent Bayside to a second-round upset of Bronx A champion Bronx Science with a pair of tallies. Only a sophomore, Moore will be giving opposing Queens coaches nightmares for years to come.
F Nathaniel Richardson, Francis Lewis
A sweeper as a junior, Sarmuksnis moved Richardson up front out of need and the senior responded with 13 goals, none bigger than his overtime game-winner over rival Bayside Sept. 22. The PSAL Class A title game loss to Beacon in penalty kicks may have been different had the lightning-quick Richardson not suffered a leg injury in the first half.
F Annes Salkovic, William Bryant
The junior striker put the Owls on the map with a brilliant 20-goal season — 10th in the entire city — that helped Bryant finish second in Queens A West and reach the PSAL Class A quarterfinals. Strong but speedy with a flair for the dramatic, Salkovic has a year left to guide the Long Island City school even further next fall.
MF Peter Scimemi, Monsignor McClancy
The season didn’t go quite as Scimemi would have liked as McClancy was eliminated by Mount St. Michael in the Class B quarterfinals a year after winning the title, but Scimemi was still a dominant force in the midfield. The senior combined skill, strength and vision to not only get his own scoring chances, but create for teammates, as well.
MF Peyton Atteloney, Christ the King
MF Danny Begonja, St. Francis Prep
F Frank Biordi, St. Francis Prep
D Stephen Buckley, Archbishop Molloy
MF Diego Carchi, John Adams
MF Calogero Curcuru, Christ the King
MF Ricardo Marin, Cardozo
F Nikolaos Orsaris, Long Island City
GK Constantine Pougiouklidis, Bayside
GK John Tzanidakis, Cardozo
D Chris Zappel, Archbishop Molloy
©2010 Community News Group
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