By Mitch Silver

Imagine how hard it is for an injured athlete to sit out the season. To watch your teammates play the sport you love knowing you’re unable to participate. Especially if you’re a high school senior whose scholastic career will be over.

Now imagine how much harder it is to sit out the season when you’re <not> injured. When you’re a past Sectional and New York State Federation champion who sits on the sidelines because your athletic eligibility has run out. Rye High senior James McHugh knows the feeling.

James spent his freshman year at a golf academy in Florida before transferring back to Rye. Which is why — despite twice winning the Section1 Boys’ Golf championship and the State Federation title — his only opportunity to set foot this spring on the Garnets’ home course at Rye Golf Club was to whack practice balls, while his coach, Pat Romano, led his team through another season.

Rye High Athletic Director Mike Arias and the Rye Lions Club decided to do something about it by naming James as Rye’s Athlete of the Month for June, just days before the annual Lions Club dinner at The Osborn to which all the monthly winners are invited and Rye’s Athlete of the Year is announced.

James is an <outstanding> golfer,” Arias said in announcing the honor. “He wasn’t able to participate this year, but we wanted to recognize him for all he’s accomplished. We have not had a June winner in the past, but an exception had to be made. 

A National Honor Society member, James is headed to Penn State in the fall,

Truly humbled by the award, James said, “There are so many talented athletes here and, for me to receive this, I don’t know what to say. It’s such a huge honor. I have to thank Coach Romano. He’s been such a big part of my life, and taught me so much. He’s amazing.”

The same can be said of James, a National Honor Society member who is headed to Penn State in the fall.

His older sister Kristen developed juvenile diabetes, now known as Type 1 Diabetes, when James was a baby. At age 6, he announced to his family, “I want to play golf for a living. And I’m going to use my money to build a golf course where kids like me can play all we want. And I’m giving the rest of my money to juvenile diabetes.”

True to his word, James raised thousands of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation over the years by setting up a “Beat the Kid” booth at local golf outings, challenging adult golfers — for a donation — to see who could hit their ball closest to the hole on a par-3.

He didn’t lose often. And now, with graduation just days away, he’s a winner once more.

Rye Neck Baseball

By Mitch Silver


It was post-season baseball played in pre-season weather. Less than 24 hours after a pair of 90°-plus days brought summer to Westchester, the thermometer registered half that at game time Saturday morning between 11th-seeded Rye Neck and their 6th-seeded rivals, Blind Brook.


The 8-11 Panthers were clear underdogs as two-dozen of their bundled-up fans huddled in the stands behind home plate. Not only were they playing on the other guy’s field, the 11-9 Trojans in the home dugout were brimming with confidence after traveling to Hornidge Road nine days earlier and defeating Coach Joe Carlucci’s squad by 4-1.


But these were the playoffs, and Rye Neck had an extra ace up their sleeves. Not only was their ace on the mound, Conor Liguori, hurling a 13-strikeout gem, but new Section One playoff rules extend a starter’s pitch count to 125 throws. So Liguori was able to keep bringing the only heat to be found in the area for 9 1/3 innings of an extra-inning game. 


How did they get there? Corey Parker led off the game with a walk, took second on a groundout, and scored on a Jack Sheldon single up the middle. In the 3rd, another walk, a balk, and Sheldon legging out a single for a second RBI made it 2-0. 


Blind Brook tied things up in the bottom of the fourth. Three base hits and a balk called on Liguori did the damage. It would have been more, but Christian Cefaloni made a stellar throw to third to cut down an advancing runner.


The score stayed 2-2 into extra innings, thanks in part to a tough catch of a windblown pop fly along the fence by first baseman Anthony Miceli. Sheldon got his third hit of the game to lead off the 8th on a grounder to deep short. He moved up on a perfectly executed hit-and-run (or more accurately, run-and-hit) single by Kevin Tamucci through the vacated second-baseman’s spot. But the rally died there.


The scoring drought extended through the ninth as both starters were throwing BBs (figures, since they were playing at Blind Brook). But even a 125-pitch limit has its limits. Corey Parker struck out on that 125th pitch to lead off the 10th, and Colin Kelley greeted his replacement with a solid single to center that became a triple when the center fielder slipped playing the ball. A walk to Sheldon placed runners at first and third. But instead of walking Tamucci to load the bases and create a force at the plate, the Trojans elected to pitch to him. A mile-high sacrifice fly brought home Kelley in a cloud of dust at the plate for the go-ahead run. A refrain of “Slide, Kelley, Slide”, anyone?


In the bottom of the 10th, it looked like turnabout would be fair play as Liguori’s own pitch limit saw him hand the ball to senior Christian Cefaloni after yielding a broken-bat liner past third on a one-out toss. Cefaloni walked the first batter he faced, but then calmly K’d the next two Trojans for the save.


After the game, Liguori acknowledged that, “We’ve been up-and down all season. So this win is really great for us.” The jubilant coach echoed his thoughts. “We played an error-free game. Their pitcher was good, but ours was just a little better.”



NEW: Rye Neck moved on to play three-seed Putnam Valley in the quarterfinals this past Tuesday. Sadly, the 15-6 Tigers ended the Panthers’ season in convincing fashion, with John Rainieri throwing a 10-strikeout five-hitter in the 9-0 victory.



Corey Parker blasts off after scoring the first run of the game.


A stunned Christian Cefaloni realizes his strikeout just won the game.

Holy Child Lacrosse

By Melanie Cane

The Gryphon Lacrosse team achieved two school firsts this season. They earned the No.1 slot in the NYSAIS — with a 13-5 regular season record — and went to win the championship. They dethroned Hackley, the No. 2 seed and reigning champion, in an action-packed final at Manhattanville on May 25. The score was 16-13.

Senior co-captain Charlotte Brosnan scored the first goal of the game from 8 meters. The Hornets answered with three consecutive goals. Lila Pfohl scored on a penalty shot after Emily Panarella forced a turnover on the transition. The Hornets answered that goal to make it 4-2. Madi Warne then ran the ball all the way downfield and passed to Ryan Delane who scored. Hackley scored again. Gryphon Olivia Bonner scored on a penalty shot and Brosnan tied it up on an assist from Martina Garate-Griot with .47 left on the clock. But in the final seconds of the half, the Hornets netted two quick goals to take a 7-5 lead into halftime.

Less than a minute into the second half, Pfohl scored off the draw. Hackley scored on their next possession. Bonner scored off the draw 10 seconds later, but the Hornets stung back quickly. With 17.56 left in the half, the Gryphons tied it at 9 on a shot from Brosnan. A minute later, Pfohl grabbed a loose ball and passed to Warne who scored to give the Gryphons their first lead since the first minute of the game. Emma McCuin followed up with a goal on a fast break.

With Holy Child up 11-9, Hackley called a time out.

When play resumed, Brosnan scored on a penalty shot, and Pfohl caught a pass by Warne in traffic to score. On the next play senior co-captain Charlotte Wertimer left the game with an injury and Hackley scored, making it a 13-10 game with 6.44 left to play. A minute later, Hackley scored again.

After Wertimer returned to the game, the Gryphons went on a tear. Brosnan, Pfohl, and McCuin all scored before Hackley netted two consecutive goals. At the buzzer, the Hornets had possession, but not the victory.

In this historic game, Brosnan scored six goals and Pfohl five. Sophomore goalie Symone Ryans played her best game of the season — making 15 saves and performing “acrobatics” to stop some of the shots. Panarella forced three turnovers and scooped up three ground balls.

Coach Catherine Conway attributed the girls’ success to a combination of factors. “We have a young team, but the seven freshman are very talented and they clicked and bonded with the veteran players early in the season. Also, the entire team committed to our game plan which was: get the first goal of the game, minimize turnovers, and win the draws.”

She praised co-captains Brosnan and Wertimer for providing great leadership. “In the first half, we were jittery and missed a lot of opportunities, but after my pep talk at halftime, the girls relaxed and brought it home.”

The captains hugging Coach Conway after the win

Charlotte Brosnan outrunning a Hackley defender

Charlotte Wertimer on the move

Lila Pfohl running the ball downfield

Madi Warne shoots and scores!

Goalie Symone Ryans getting help from Ryan Delane and Emma McGuin

The Gryphons displaying their championship plaques

RHS Girls’ Lacrosse

By Melanie Cane

Rye High seniors Haley Nemsick and Amanda Hartzell with their families and Coach Dennis Hurlie

On May 10, before what was supposed to be the Garnets’ last home game of the regular season, Rye High Lacrosse Coach Dennis Hurlie recognized co-captains Amanda Hartzell and Hailey Nemsick. “Last year we honored 11 seniors. This year we honor two. But next year I will be the saddest coach in the section because I have gotten closer to and relied upon these two wonderful girls more than any other players I have ever coached.” The Garnets went on to beat the Pelham Pelicans 8-6.


Stormy weather postponed the scheduled Rye/Harrison matchup, a game that would determine the league champion. On May 15, the same storm short-circuited the Garnets’ home scoreboard, and, for the first half, seemed to have the same effect on the Rye girls’ play.

Coach Dennis Hurlie was prohibited from coaching this game because he was carded in the previous one, and the team seemed lost without him. The Garnets started the game with a quick transition goal by Amanda Hartzell, but the Huskies took control and scored five unanswered goals. Struggling with turnovers and lost opportunities, Rye went into halftime down 5-1.

Playing a fierce second half, the Rye girls fought back and outscored Harrison 7-2. Hartzell led the rally with a goal off the first draw. She followed that with two more, the last on a spectacular crease roll, spinning and ducking under two defenders. Junior captain Margaret Mitchell added two more to tie the game at six with eight minutes remaining.

Paige Drago and Shannon Lavelle finished off the Garnets’ run. Lavelle scored the winning goal in stunning play. Harrison goalie Kathleen Lino was called on a warding-off penalty. Lavelle outran the goalie before any of Harrison’s defensemen had time to get back to their goal. The Garnets won the subsequent draw and maintained possession until the final buzzer, and ended with an 8-7 victory.

Rye’s defense was pivotal in the second half. They shut down Harrison’s attack holding them to two goals on ten shots. The defensive unit led by Nemsick controlled the tempo with multiple caused turnovers, stops and clears. Freshman goalie Amelia Cunningham had a stellar second half.

After controlling the draw circle for most of the game, the Garnets were finally able to convert possessions in the second half. Critical ground balls and midfield play by Sara DeGraw, Ellie Daley, and Molly Broderick helped the Garnets establish offensive momentum. An interception by Broderick was the turning point of the game. A tremendous second half by Amelia Cunningham in goal was their other secret weapon.

Although the Garnets had a tough regular season schedule, and ended with a 7-9 record, they were undefeated in League play and have won the title four years in a row. They are now 22-1 over the past four years under Coach Hurlie and assistant coaches Keri Morrison and Brit Anderson.

On May 23, the second-seeded Garnets beat the No. 3 seed, Pelham, 16-11. Rye was up 10-4 at the half, but Pelham went on a tear and the Garnets had to give everything they had to stave them off. Hartzell had six goals.

On May 25, post-press time, Rye faces Henrick Hudson, the No. 4 seed, which beat top-seeded Bryam Hills in the semifinals.

Hugs all around after beating Harrison for League title


Sarah DeGraw running the ball down the sideline.


Rye High Rowing

By Mitch Silver


The Garnets Rowing team, under Coach Stan Nelson, traveled to Saratoga Springs two weekends ago to compete in the State Championships on Saratoga Lake. One boat in particular, the Men’s Lightweight 4 with coxswain, would be defending the title they won in 2016. 


It’s no small thing to compete on home waters other than your own. Boats and gear of various sizes and descriptions make the trek on one trailer while food and the means to cook it for team members, family, and friends out at the course travel in another.


Out there on the lake, the boys in the boat — senior cox Zach Szabo and classmate John Dailey, plus juniors Tim Rudolph-Math, Jimmy Cronin, Jack Hartman — had the advantage of knowing they’d stood atop the podium 12 months earlier. And that, as New York champs, they’d rowed in both the SRAA Scholastic Nationals and the U.S. Rowing Youth Nationals, where they’d been silver medalists each time.


This time it was a stroll in the park. Or, rather, a paddle on the lake: the Garnets took the lead early and were never headed. Not even challenged. The boat’s winning time over the 1,500 meters was 4:55.90, a full 100 meters and 21 seconds ahead of the second-place crew. In fact, Rye’s lightweights would have beaten the heavyweight 4+ winners by five seconds.


So it’s on to SRAAs once more today and tomorrow in Camden, New Jersey, and then Youth Nationals in Sarasota in two weeks’ time. But they won’t be making that trip alone. Jillian Breen and Clara Sutherland took the bronze in the Women’s Lightweight Double, the best scholastic boat in the race. They, too, advance to the Youth Nationals. And Men’s captain Dailey and Rudolph-Math, Rye’s entry on the male side of the Lightweight Double, will compete in Florida in that event as well thanks to their silver medal finish in Saratoga.


Other terrific Garnet results: Troy Gilman, James Keller, Lachlan Nelson, Parker Vanamee and coxswain Jillian Breen won silver in the Men’s Junior 4+; Hall Luthringer, Jake Moore, Troy Gilman and Alex Farres came in second in the Mens Lightweight Quad; Parker Vanamee and Lachlan Nelson were runners-up in the Mens Junior Double. All three crews were the top scholastic boat in this combined high school/club regatta.



Shannon Ryan and Felicity Johnson were also tops among scholastic boats and fifth overall in the Women’s Junior Double. And, finally, Kayla Patel, Shoshi Daniels, Iman Syed, Erica Kinstel, and cox Zack Szabo finished as the 2d fastest scholastic boat in the Women’s Lightweight 4+coswain.


An exhausted John Dailey, Tim Rudolph-Math, Jimmy Cronin, Jack Hartman, and cox Zach Szabo (left to right) savor victory.


Jillian Breen and Clara Sutherland busy earning their trip to Nationals.

It was not to be. After a season spent either losing big leads or surmounting them, Coach Steve Lennon’s men found a team they couldn’t come back on: John Jay of Cross River. 


The third-seeded Indians—generally considered to be the No. 1A to No. 1 Yorktown in Section One lacrosse—came into the game at Nugent Stadium Tuesday night as the third seed, one below the number two Garnets. 


They netted a score in the second minute of the game only because Rye freshman netminder Emmett Carroll made a spectacular save up high to keep them from scoring in the first minute. 


Rye pulled even with two and a half minutes gone on a heady play by senior co-captain Will Hynson. After a stick check along the sidelines won the ball for Rye, the Garnet middie threw a quick one-bouncer toward the Indians’ goal while keeper Shahe Katchadurian was still retreating. John Jay coach Tim Schurr protested, but the goal stood.


Despite a couple more brilliant saves by Carroll, the visitors were up by two when junior Billy Chabot scored on a one-bouncer at 3:35 of the first to make it 3-2. That’s as close as Rye would come for the rest of the night. In fact, a hail of five goals in the first four minutes of the second quarter sealed the Garnets’ fate. A combination of a less-than-airtight zone in front of goal and faceoff losses at the X had the locals down 8-2 when Chabot scored Rye’s third at 6:51. Then the teams went scoreless the rest of the way to halftime.


In the locker room, Coach Lennon gave an unusual halftime talk. Instead of reminding the boys that they’d come back from the same five-goal deficit up at Somers in the regular season, he used a losing game to make the same point: how the team had blown a huge cushion to Iona Prep a month earlier, losing in double-overtime 13-12 after leading by 12-3 with little more than a quarter left in the game. What Hynson heard was, “They did it to us. We can do it to these guys.”


They almost did. Playing like the second-half team they are, the Garnets swarmed the Indians’ crease. Senior Ryan Kirkpatrick beat his man to the outside and fed classmate Teddy Aquiline at 7:50 of the third to make it 8-4.


Hynson warded off a check and scored from 15 yards out to make it 8-5. Rye followed that with a great defensive stand for 90 seconds, setting up the play of the night. It was that man Hynson again. He took the ball just over the line in John Jay territory, worked his man for what seemed like 10 seconds without finding a shooting lane until he was behind the net. And then he simply beat him from behind the cage, scoring low to bring Rye to 8-6 down and charging with 2:50 left in the third.


Lesser teams have crumbled when Rye applied the pressure, but John Jay held firm, scoring the final two goals of the stanza. They added goal number 11 with two minutes gone in the final quarter. Though senior attackman Brendan Dugan won a loose ball and fed Chabot, he hit the pipe—one of five pipes the Garnets banged during the contest—at 8:15.


Dugan would score in his own right from an acute angle at 5:23, and Hynson would shift hands from right to left to find the net with 4:44 left in the game. But, despite freshman defender Brendan Lavelle’s quick interception of a John Jay pass after the ensuing face-off, the Indians would finally score the goal that sealed the game with under two minutes to play. Still, Chabot epitomized the never-say-die Garnet spirit when he nailed a low fling that would make the final 12-9. 


Afterwards, Coach Lennon mentioned that late goal. “I’ve learned that Rye kids never give up. Never. We’ll be back.”