Here is my colleague Nancy Haggerty’s practice report from her visit with Blind Brook on Thursday:
This year, he might need an extra powerful wand.
Blind Brook coach Jozef Pomoryn, who has led the Trojans to three straight Class B Section 1 titles and before that to two Class C and one Class D crown, is saddled with almost an entirely new roster.
Thirteen players graduated from last season’s team, including nine starters, including top striker striker Joseph DiBerardino and goalie Scott Wurtzel.
Blind Brook has always had a knack of rebounding from graduation. But couple this year’s inordinate number with the loss of Matthew Streichler. The junior, who Pomoryn describes as tremendously skilled and “basically fearless,” has opted to play only for the club team FC Westchester.
The high-scoring Streichler’s absence leaves a huge hole at left outside mid, a position, along with left fullback that Pomoryn considers crucial.
“That’s my main headache,” Pomoryn said.
Compounding things is the fact that for reasons the coach doesn’t understand, Blind Brook’s first two games will be played before school even starts, the first next Friday vs. Edgemont and the next the following Tuesday vs. Bronxville in a rematch of the Section 1 championship game.
Pomoryn, who’ll rely on a strong senior group that includes midfielder John Argentino, center back/middie Dough Popper, outside middie Ethan Trokie and defenseman Bo Fishman, said, “it’s really a rebuilding year for me.”
But with strong goalies in senior Daniel Rosenbaum and junior Noah Lubin and a potentially high scorer in sophomore Joao Souza, who got some playing time last year, he’s not completely writing off the possibility of competing for the section crown again, saying, “There is always the possibility.”
Fishman, for one, is a believer.
“Coach Joe always finds a way to win if there’s all talent or no talent,” he said.
The don’t-count-the-Trojans-out belief may be tested this year, but it isn’t as if Blind Brook is devoid of talent.
“I think a mix of talent and confidence gives us a chance,” Popper said, adding winning the section would be tough but not impossible.
“We have a strong, central unit. I don’t think we have any standouts – all-state – but we have very solid players,” Popper added.
Hoping he “experienced what’s in front of him” from two weeks on varsity during the playoffs last year, Pomoryn said he has “really high hopes” for Souza.
“Skill-wise, he’s probably one of our two best players… but it’s not an easy task (to play varsity). It’s fast and physical. He needs to be smart in his playing.”
Pomoryn doesn’t appeared worried about the defense, mentioning junior Andrew Farruggio, Fishman and Popper as being strong. Of Fishman and Popper, he said, “I’m calling them bruisers. They’re going to take care of the back line.”
Fishman figures a lot of the Trojans’ offense will be created from its defense, which he considers to be stronger.
“We’re going to work off the back line,” he said, adding he thinks his squad is rich in young talent.
Argentino said Blind Brook will focus on a “possessive style of play.”
“In the past, it was ‘go, go, go.’ This year, it’s going to be a more intelligent and controlled type of play,” he said.
The prospect of playing with virtually an entire new roster doesn’t seem to faze him.
“I absolutely believe this team has grown accustomed to adapting to huge changes,” said Argentino, who has been on varsity since a post-season call-up as a sophomore.
Argentino thinks that while his squad may lack a big-time scorer, compared to last season it’s more technically gifted and a much more balanced team.
And, of course, there’s the you-just-never-know factor.
“Last year, nobody thought we were going to win and I was able to put the pieces together and it worked. We’re a very industrious team and we work hard,” Pomoryn said.
Photos by Tania Savayan/Video by Nancy Haggerty