Player of the Year – Suffern’s Kaila Cahoon
Kaila Cahoon can’t recall exactly how she makes all of her saves.
Bernadette Gannon, her coach on the Suffern field hockey team, doesn’t know either.
The multitude of standing blocks, tumbles and diving saves that Cahoon made — 100 during her senior season — weren’t always pretty to watch.
They did, however, give Suffern a defensive edge it rode to its first Section 1 crown and all the way to the Class A regional final.
“Sometimes as a coach, you look and you swear the ball is going into the net and you kind of prepare yourself for, ‘OK, they just scored,’ ” Gannon said. “Then you are still watching and you’re like, ‘Oh my … she just made this amazing save.’ It catches you off guard.”
Cahoon, the Journal News Rockland field hockey player of the year, allowed nine goals in 21 games.
“During the summer, I was thinking that I just wanted to be the best that I can be and have as many shutouts as possible. I want to help my team win,” Cahoon said. “I think that I helped my team accomplish its goals.”
Cahoon’s marquee performance came in a 2-1 double-overtime win in the Section 1 final against Mamaroneck, which had 22 corner chances.
“Kaila was a beast,” said Toni Pjetri, a 2010 Suffern graduate and standout goalie for New Paltz. “I remember going up to her afterward and giving her the biggest hug. It’s scary in (those situations) for the defense and for the goalie in the cage.”
Cahoon was called up to the varsity during Pjetri’s senior season and Pjetri was able to impart goaltending wisdom and techniques to her eventual successor.
“Ever since she came up as a freshman, I knew that she was going to do great because she has so much ambition,” Pjetri said. “She was very aggressive and picked things up easily.”
Gannon noted that a strength of Cahoon’s, unlike other athletes her age, is the ability to effectively communicate defensive assignments to her teammates.
“The goalie has to be the leader defensively and has to be able to control the circle,” Gannon said. “Kaila does that really well because she does it in a manner that’s not bossy or domineering.”
In two hotly contested draws against Nyack, Cahoon’s awareness was on display as the Mounties were able to keep the exceptionally athletic Nyack forwards at bay.
“After so many games, I would tell (Cahoon), ‘You saved us,’ ” teammate Sarah Adler said. “A lot of teams outshot us and had more corners than us.”
Cahoon said she is still undecided about her future plans but is considering playing her college field hockey at Scranton and pursuing a degree in communication.
For now, Cahoon can relish the fact that her team’s section championship wasn’t just the first for Suffern, but the first for any Rockland program.
“I hope people can recognize the potential that (Rockland field hockey) has,” Cahoon said. “Next year, everyone will have faith that we can go a little further, from section champs to maybe regional champs. We brought a lot of recognition to Rockland field hockey.”
Sarah Adler, Sr., Suffern: The Northeastern-bound Adler scored 16 goals and had 14 assists. Adler scored to send the Mounties into overtime in the Section 1 championship and scored the winning goal against Kingston in regional play.
Andie O’Sullivan, Jr., Nyack: Area coaches have lauded O’Sullivan for her superb speed and athleticism. With another season remaining, O’Sullivan could easily develop into one of Section 1’s premier attack players.
Taylor O’Sullivan, Jr. , Nyack: O’Sullivan was Nyack’s leading scorer with 12 goals and nine assists. She also served as the flyer on defensive corners and the primary shooter on offensive corners.
Amanda Cano, Sr., Nyack: Cano set the pace for the Indians and took a defensive-minded approach to the midfield area. Cano displayed the ability to handle the ball in all phases of the game.
Emma Dempsey, Jr., Clarkstown South: Dempsey was the primary shooter on offensive corners and the main flyer on defensive corners. Dempsey routinely stole possession and pushed the tempo in transition.
Courtney Ocasal, So., Pearl River: For an underclassmen, Ocasal displayed confidence while controlling the ball in traffic above the circle. She will be an asset to coach Shane Carlacci’s squad for the next two seasons.
Julia Calandra, Sr., Suffern: Calandra was an intrumental piece in the Mounties’ run to its first section championship and into regional play. Calandra displayed excellent game sense and redirected the ball upfield with urgency.
Dynell Clement, Sr., Clarkstown North: The dynamic athlete and experienced player covered a lot of ground and constantly impacted play.
Taylor Fueg, Sr., Suffern: Fueg constantly circled in front of teammates and goalie Kaila Cahoon to block shots. Fueg was a key link in securing turnover possession and feeding the ball to the offense.
Moira Ungerleider, Jr. Nyack: Ungerleider was a huge reason why the Indians registered five shutouts and allowed one goal in five other games. The junior made superb block tackles game after game and cleared the ball with precision.
Coach of the Year
Bernadette Gannon, Suffern: Gannon channeled the talents of a defensive-minded team into a resilient bunch that led to Rockland’s first Section 1 championship. Her team displayed a penchant for winning tight games and advanced to the Class A regional final.
Taylor Bertolacci, Sr., Nyack
Carly Davin, Jr., Nanuet
Katie Delango, Jr., North Rockland
Erin Dolphin, So., Pearl River
Alanna Falcicchio, Jr., Nyack
Sydney Hiller, Jr., Suffern
Alexis Kydon, Sr., Nyack
Deidre O’Malley, Jr., Pearl River
Nora Patwell, Sr., Suffern
Courtney Regan, Sr., Clarkstown North
Sydney Rondina, So., Suffern
Michael Callan, Sr., North Rockland; Nicole Caridi, Jr., Suffern; Casey Keegan, Sr., Clarkstown South; Steph Levy, Sr., Nanuet; Casey Macchia, Jr., Suffern; Annie McBride, So., Pearl River; Kristen Sammon, Sr., Pearl River; Olivia Schember, Jr., Suffern