Panthers Trailblaze New Era of Success at Rye Neck

There’s no doubt the Rye Neck field hockey team wanted to add a Section title as the exclamation point to a standout season, but despite falling just short – they lost 5-0 to No. 1 Bronxville in the finals – the Panthers are riding high.

Published November 23, 2011 3:22 PM
3 min read

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sp-rnthumbThere’s no doubt the Rye Neck field hockey team wanted to add a Section title as the exclamation point to a standout season, but despite falling just short – they lost 5-0 to No. 1 Bronxville in the finals – the Panthers are riding high.

 

By Jim Byrne

 

There’s no doubt the Rye Neck field hockey team wanted to add a Section title as the exclamation point to a standout season, but despite falling just short – they lost 5-0 to No. 1 Bronxville in the finals – the Panthers are riding high.

sp-morganRye Neck finished the season 12-3-4, exceeding head coach Nicole Bolnik’s initial expectations, and earned a No. 2 seed in the Class C Section playoffs. They defeated No. 7 Croton-Harmon 2-0 in the finals, and then beat No. 3 North Salem 1-0 in the semifinals. Junior Nickole Morgan was one of the many heroes in the squeaker, as she scored the game’s lone goal on a corner shot.

 

“Advancing to the finals made the season even sweeter,” said Bolnik. “For the girls to be able to experience the excitement of the playoffs and being known as one of the best teams in Section 1 … it’s a major milestone for Rye Neck.”

 

Bolnik continued, “It’s a shame we weren’t able to add a Section title banner to hang in the gym with the others from years ago. There is a great history of championship field hockey at Rye Neck. It has been a while, but it’s there. We talked all season long about wanting to be the team that would be remembered.”

 

The coach and her charges don’t have to worry about their place in history. Since 2008, Bolnik has been telling her team it takes three to four years to build a successful program. With no JV squad, young Panthers get to play every minute of every varsity game. For players like senior captain Yasmina Gourchane, who have been through the ups and downs of the last four years, this season was their just desserts. The goalie earned All-Section and All-Elite honors, recording 11 shutouts and finishing her career with 215 saves.

 

sp-nathan“I’ll never forget the family we formed this season,” said Gourchane. “We all love one another like sisters, and I think that was expressed on the field. That family was a main reason why we made it to the Section finals, something our program hadn’t done in over ten years.”

 

Amanda Hurlbut, Gourchane’s fellow senior captain, was the “unsung hero” of the Panthers.

 

“She’s another four-year varsity player whose strength has grown tremendously over the years,” said Bolnik of the center back. “She is so smart and organized that she was able to internalize much of the game. Amanda did an outstanding job of shutting down our opponent’s offense and top scorers in our league.”

 

Although the team graduates a talented senior class in June, there’s no doubt that a new era of field hockey has dawned at Rye Neck.

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