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By Mitch Silver

How good was Cayla Brown’s season for the Rye High Volleyball team? Beyond the usual accolades from her coach and teammates, Pelham Coach Mark Finnegan’s words spoke volumes after the Garnets knocked his team out of Sectional play in five thrilling sets — 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20.

“You get into these tight, close matches and whose great player is going to take over? And it was Cayla Brown. She made every play. I mean, I don’t even know if she made a mistake. I’m sure she did, but I don’t remember it.”

The unassuming Brown, who will make a tour of colleges this month, follows in the footsteps of older sister Courtney, who plays volleyball for Hamilton College. “My entire family has been incredibly supportive. My sister, being a player herself, has been great.”

And there’s more to the league’s Player of the Year than high school, club, and beach volleyball. Winter finds her playing varsity squash, though Cayla’s favorite athletic endeavor is gymnastics. “I learned at the Rye YMCA, and I spend my summers teaching gymnastics to kids from 4-14 at the Y.”

The honoree, chosen for the award by the Rye Lions Club and the RHS Athletic Department, gave a special shout-out to a couple of mentors: Mr. Murolo, her AP Calculus teacher, and her two-year volleyball coach, Geri Jones. “Ms. Jones is so easy to talk to, on and off the court. She can be funny, and serious when she needs to be, and she’s there to talk about anything.”

In the classroom, Cayla’s favorite course is Advanced Placement Digital Photography, her third such course at Rye High. Is photography in her future, too?

“I love the work you do at the computer after taking the picture, Photo-shopping and the rest. Then again, I could see my self becoming a medical researcher.”

Before she has to declare a major and choose a career, Cayla will join the other monthly Lions Club winners at a year-end dinner at The Osborn, where Rye’s Player of the Year will be announced. She’ll be in the running.

 

Current and former Rye High School basketball players, along with dozens of Saturday and Sunday Rye Recreation players, gathered to celebrate Coach Doug Tuttle and his longtime support of the men’s basketball tradition. Families and current high school coaches dedicated a bench to Coach Tuttle in appreciation of his commitment to player development.

Master of Ceremonies Bart DiNardo, Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach, shared the backstory on the dedication. Last year, former varsity players Mark Croughan, Michael Carty, and Brett Egan presented the idea of a bench dedicated to their coach to the Rye Recreation Commission, which was unanimously adopted.

After a fundraising effort last spring, the hardest part was setting a date for the ceremony. Looping Doug’s wife, Abby Tuttle, into the process, helped move the plan forward and the Friday after Thanksgiving was set. Doug’s sons, John and Dave, and Rye High School alumni who were home from college or visiting family for the holiday were quietly notified of the date and time.

Michael Carty and Mark Croughan, via text message as he was on his way back to Washington and Lee for college basketball practice, delivered heartfelt and admiring remarks about their coach.

John Aguilar, Varsity Basketball Coach, expressed his deep appreciation for Coach Tuttle’s experience, guidance, and friendship.

Kevin O’Neil, father of three former Rye High players and longtime Rye Rec player himself, praised Doug’s “tutelage of the next generation year after year, one weekend at a time.”

John Tuttle talked about his dad’s love of the game, and expressed his family’s thanks to all the current players, coaches, alumni, and family friends in the room.

When Doug was asked to say a few words and while some folks in the room wiped away tears, he said, “I’m a very lucky man.”

Actually Coach, generations of high school basketball players think they are the lucky ones as the beneficiaries of your stories, tips, and prodding to be their best selves on and off the court.

—Kendall Egan

Photos by Melanie Cane

 

John Tuttle, at left, sharing a story about his dad, at right.

Doug Tuttle, surrounded by former and current Rye High School and Rye Rec basketball players who “benched” him for life, at a dedication ceremony at Rye Recreation on November 24.

 

By Melanie Cane

<<Squash>>

The team is small this year with five returning players and four newcomers. Having graduated so many seniors and with a new head coach Jason Hix, this will be a rebuilding year. Newcomer freshman Eliza Mills will likely play number one.

 <<Basketball>>

New head coach Mike Clancy has been pleased with what he has seen from the team so far. “I have pushed these players hard and they have responded well. We have an appealing mix of veterans and new players. Everyone has been really upbeat and I am thrilled to have the addition Bianca Kowgios as an assistant.”

Clancy is looking forward to Kayla and Victoria Hanley having healthy seasons. Both are returning from ACL injuries. “It’s tough to think of a better one-two punch than the Hanley sisters.” Along with seniors Madi Warne and Carly Okon, junior Isabella Alaimo, and sophomore Emily Panarella, this team has an outstanding nucleus.”

The bench has a lot of depth. The five new players and those returning from a season off will make this team tough to beat.

<<Swimming>>

Coach Art Tiedemann is “very excited to compete in a dual meet season, with a sense that we will be competitive with anyone we swim against.”

Team captains Alexandra DeStaebler, Lily Hurley, Tor Gaffney, and Maggie Scala head a roster of 24, which includes nine new members.

Coach Tiedemann’s goal this year is the Division III New England Championship. “We were second last year, ten points out of 1st place. Our team is solid from top to bottom, and all three eighth graders, Kate Hoesterey, Lizzy Ford, and Willa Sarcone, will make their presence felt immediately. Returning seniors DeStaebler, Hannah Cleary, Hurley, and Gaffney, as well as returning junior Scala, will be fun to watch.” Rounding out the team are freshmen Juliana Rivera, Olivia Gaffney and Alanna Kelly and sophomores Lizzy Scala and Charlotte Hurley.

He added, “This is a great group of young ladies who possess an exceptional amount of swimming talent.”

By Mitch Silver

The moment the Rye Neck Girls’ Volleyball team finished their straight-set win over Pawling in the Class C semifinals November 3, Head Coach Kristin Desio and her crew turned their thoughts to Haldane and the Sectional finals the following Sunday morning at Pace University.

“We beat Haldane during the season in four sets, but we were playing our absolute best and they looked a little sluggish,” Coach Desio confided. “They’re used to winning the big ones.”

That last bit might have been an understatement. When the two squads met for the championship, Rye Neck was looking for its first title since 2011. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils were gunning for their 14th Sectional crown in 16 seasons. Of course, their streak of 13 consecutive titles came against small school competition before moving up a class in 2015.

Rye Neck took the first set and was ahead 10-7 in the third when a Haldane timeout led to an 18-6 run and a 2-1 lead that seemed to deflate the locals. Even so, the players and coach held their heads high.

The second-seeded Blue Devils beat the Panthers 22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-19, proving to be every bit as tough as Coach Desio had suspected.

“The senior leadership on this team got us where we are today,” Coach Desio said. “The clincher, I think, was when Sam Yannuzzi agreed to give up her cherished libero jersey so we could use her strength as a hitter outside. Her unselfishness set the tone.”

Olivia Beach, the powerful senior who led the team in kills, echoed her words. “There’s a lot of love on this team. And love is a really powerful thing.”

15 Photos

Photos: Haldane tops Rye in Class C volleyball final

 Olivia Beach powers the ball through Pawling’s attempted blocks in the semifinals.

 

Despite being a very young team, with two new coaches, the Gryphons Field Hockey team made it to the NYSAIS semifinals.

Led by captains Julia Howe and Molly Mackie, Holy Child earned the No. 3 seed in the NYSAIS Tournament. After dispatching Brearley School 6-2 in the quarterfinals November 1, they earned a third shot at Hackley this season.

In both of their earlier match-ups, the Gryphons lost by just one goal. Unfortunately, in the semifinal, Holy Child fell behind 3-0 early. The girls fought back, but the Hornets prevailed 5-2.

Although disappointed not to have made it to the championship round, the girls from Holy Child ended the season with heads held high and experience on their side. 

— Melanie Cane

 

Holy Child in a huddle before the semifinal against Hackley 

 

 

By Mitch Silver

The newly crowned Section 1 champion Rye Neck Panthers had little time to savor their thrilling 1-0 victory over Briarcliff for the Class B soccer title. Four days later they took the field at Lakeland High in a Regional semifinal against Section 9’s Rhinebeck Hawks.

Things didn’t start off on the right foot, as the Hawks controlled play for most of the half. When Nakoa Zuger was left free on a corner kick in the 37th minute, his header would prove to be all the offense the Hawks would get. But it looked to be enough after an hour of play.

That’s when Rye Neck striker Jack Sheldon was fouled in the 18-yard box. Jonathan Casas took the kick from the spot, which deflected off keeper Ethan Viator and dribbled behind the end line, resulting in a corner kick. Casas said, “I was really nervous taking the PK. I missed it, and knew I had to put in a good corner kick to make up for it. Jack’s header was beautiful.”

The center forward’s goal from the Casas assist finished the scoring in regulation. Then, in the second OT period, center back Tom Crook drove a ball into the box that Sheldon got his head on. The ball deflected off goalkeeper Viator and bounced out to Rye Neck’s junior stopper Del DaSilva, who headed it in for the 2-1 winner.

It was out-of-the-frying-pan time 72 hours later, when the locals traveled to Byram Hills to take on the top-ranked team in New York State, the Center Moriches Red Devils. The Long Island champions dressed 25 players to the Panthers’ 17, and they shuttled fresh players onto the pitch throughout the game.

Still, though the Devils retained most of the possession in the first half — through their beautiful short passing game and the power of All-State scoring machine Ben Hamilton (38 goals on the season) — Rye Neck goalie Guillermo Pons and his defense, anchored by Crook, held the fort.

They had a little luck, too. Crook cleared a shot off the line seven minutes in, and Hamilton hit the crossbar midway through the half. Pons made eight saves before the intermission but, unfortunately, two of them — impressive stops from point-blank range — were followed immediately by a third, another close-in shot by Liam Pulsipher, for the score.

The goal gave Center Moriches the lead and Rye Neck the motivation. After the game, center midfielder Donovan Dunning said, “We talked at halftime about how they were beating us, made some adjustments and came out in the second half and took over momentum.”

The pressure told almost immediately, as a Red Devil defender bodied Spencer Goldberg off the ball in the penalty box. Dunning took the kick, but goalkeeper Curtis Copenhaver threw himself left and smothered the shot.

The last half-hour of the contest saw two players dominate: Copenhaver made play after play in the Center Moriches goal, and Tom Crook, the player of the game, stopped everything coming his way before sending ball after ball into the box that just eluded his teammates.

When the final whistle blew to end their season, Rye Neck had been attacking the Red Devils’ goal for a solid ten minutes. But the 1-0 decision sent the top seeds into the State Final Four, where they won the State Class B title last Sunday, and the 14-5-3 Panthers home.

If it’s any consolation, Rye Neck is now the fifth-ranked team in New York. And prospects for 2018 are even rosier.

Jack Sheldon (12), Spencer Goldberg (7), and Tom Crook (4) gave Center Moriches fits.

Dan Fujiwara’s header is saved by the defender.