If Blind Brook was going to have any chance of repeating as Class B champion this season, it was no secret which player was going to have to carry the biggest load.
The Trojans won in 2011 with the lethal combination of Ben Seguljic in goal and the Section 1 Small School Player of the Year, Lucas McBride, providing the scoring up top. But with McBride gone in 2012 and goals harder to come by, Seguljic had to be even better if his team was going to duplicate its success.
“We knew we had big shoes to fill once Lucas graduated and coming off of a section title,” Seguljic said. “I think there was added pressure for not only myself, but for everyone.”
Seguljic responded to that added pressure by simply not allowing a goal in the postseason, as Blind Brook repeated with a 1-0 win over North Salem in the Class B title game. Even when the Trojans were eliminated by Spackenkill on penalty kicks in the regional semifinals, Seguljic did not allow a goal in 110 minutes of play. All of those clean sheets added up to Seguljic keeping the Small School Player of the Year trophy at Blind Brook, and now he’s The Journal News Westchester/Putnam Player of the Year.
“I knew that a lot of the season was resting on our shoulders,” Seguljic said. “Me and the defense had a discussion and said, ‘We’re a big part of this team, and we need to step it up.’ “
If you were asked to draw up the ideal high school goalkeeper, you’d probably end up with someone who looks a lot like Seguljic. The 6-foot-2 senior has all of the physical tools that you want in a goalie, which is why he was the only keeper from Section 1 to commit to a D-I college this season.
“At this level, with his technical skills — catching the ball, holding on to the ball, making himself big in a breakaway situation, being fast with his reaction saves — his game was superior,” coach Josef Pomoryn said.
While the future Providence keeper wows coaches with his difficult saves and excellent field vision, it was his demeanor that rubbed off on teammates and helped them play well in big games.
“He’s just so calm before every game, and that spreads to the rest of the team,” senior defender Jake Starr said. “Even when he makes a huge save, he gets back up and acts like it was nothing.”
The Trojans had every opportunity to falter with a brutal schedule to start the season, but Seguljic helped them get off to a 2-0 start with back-to-back shutouts, one of which came against defending Class AA section champ Horace Greeley.
“When I saw our schedule in April, I thought in a worst-case scenario we could be 0-6,” Pomoryn said. “I thought we could play well in some games, but not get the results, and that can be mentally draining. But after our first game when Ben had some tremendous saves, I was like, ‘All right, maybe it’s not going to be that bad.’ “
Despite playing arguably the most difficult schedule of any Class B team, Blind Brook won 11 regular-season games and earned the third seed. Seguljic had nine shutouts entering the playoffs, and he would add five more in five postseason games.