Talk about starting the season off right: the Gryphons won their first four matchups, a feat last accomplished in 2007.
By Melanie Cane
Talk about starting the season off right: the Gryphons won their first four matchups, a feat last accomplished in 2007. Mike Duignan, now in his tenth year as head coach, says that despite graduating several seniors from last year’s NYAISA and FAA semifinalist team, he has high hopes for Holy Child’s title chances again this season.
Among the returning players are two All League players — senior Captain and guard Maggie Welsh and junior forward Josie Amerson. Welsh is the team’s top scorer, averaging 13 points a game. Amerson leads the team in rebounds with 14 per game. Coach Duignan says Amerson, last year’s All FAA and All NESPSAC player, is the girl to watch. The two other returning starters are senior Co-Captain Julie Kellet and junior Elizabeth Curcio. Assistant Coach Allison Rodgers is returning for the third year.
After losing three experienced guards from last year’s team, along with speed and leadership, this year’s team will rely more on height and defense. Their strength is a deep bench, so they’re starting off with many different options.
Senior guards Bridget DelPriore, Julie Kellet, Tyra Cureton, and Ryan Hughes will provide outside shooting and solid defense. Casey Diaz, Dulce DelPriore, Elizabeth Eiden, and Nicole Shapiro will contribute strong defensive play and rebounding from the forward and center positions. Up-and-coming guards Christiana Guttridge, Adare Kennedy, and Margaret Brady bring strong ball handling skills and intensity.
In the team’s fourth consecutive win on December 13 at home, they defeated The Marymount School of New York City 51-27. Kellet led all scorers with 12 points; Welsh had ten points and six assists; and Amerson had nine points and 15 rebounds.
After the game, Coach Duignan said, “We are a team that plays with great defensive intensity, and we will improve offensively as the season progresses. Our defense sets the tone for us. That kicks in our running game, which leads to transition baskets. We are playing a strong regular season schedule that will test us all season long. We are excited to have the challenge.”
They came up against their first challenge December 16, losing to Staten Island Academy, 74-45.
Last season, Holy Child’s squash team had the dubious distinction of finishing last in their league. This year, they have already won two (they are 2-3) under new coach Kat Bhayani. For the past four years, Bhayani has been a squash professional at the Bronxville Field Club and has several years of experience teaching/coaching tennis to juniors and adults. Although he is just getting to know the players, he plans to work hand in hand with junior captains Christina Casino and Millie Cavicchio and expects them to be an integral part of the team leadership.
Bhayani’s goals are less about winning than they are about maximizing potential and sportsmanship. He hopes to help the girls realize their playing potential as well as their degree of fitness. “I want them to learn from their experiences, persevere without getting discouraged, compete with good conduct and dignity, be graceful in defeat and humble in victory, and most of all, have fun and support one another,” he said.
Among the players to have won the majority of their matches to date are Cavicchio, Casino; Catherine Stolberg, Gabby Aranavat, Caroline Gillespie, Sydney Brodie, and Amanda Eliman.
The fact that the girls practice at 6 every morning, at their home courts at Westchester Country Club, said the coach, reflects their character as well their level of discipline, commitment, and dedication.
Seven swimmers, including the captains, seniors Maeve Potter and Sabrina Liquorie, returned and have been joined by 11 new team members. Coach Art Tiedemann says he expects all the girls to do well, but singled out a few swimmers to watch: Hannah Cleary (breaststroke); Alex DeStaebler (backstroke); Alexa Lantin (breaststroke and distance); Sami Drew (fly and backstroke); Victoria (Tor) Gaffney (breaststroke), and Riley Mullin (freestyle and distance). He said, “These girls can really move in the water.”
Last season, the Gryphons had an overall record of 3-7, placed second in the Catholic Challenge and seventh at the New England Private School Association Championships.
The team is much improved and will be extremely competitive this year, said Coach Tiedemann. “We have an infusion of talented and motivated new swimmers. I expect the girls to surprise the competition.”
Holy Child’s major competitors are Greenwich Academy and Convent of the Sacred Heart. Their first dual meet was scheduled away against Greenwich Academy on December 10, but it was snowed out. It was rescheduled for December 17, at the Greenwich YMCA, but once again snowed out.
Coach Mike Simon is excited about his middle distance team led by Sally Smith, Carly Pace, Jolie Brakey, and Maeve MacGowan. He’s also looking forward to great performances from returning sprinter Joshane Wakefield. Rounding out the team are some young, strong runners from the cross-country team.
Regarding captains, Simon said, “We have a lot of seniors. I consider them all captains.”
The Gryphons will compete in The Ignatian Invitational on December 21.