Rye Neck Boys’ Soccer
Panthers Win Their Way Into the Section’s Top 10
By Mitch Silver
See if you can deduce the formula here: Rye Neck, the defending Section One Class B champions, opened their 2018 campaign by dropping a hard-fought 1-0 nail-biter on the artificial turf at Class AA Mamaroneck. A week later, they tied Pleasantville 1-1. Then they beat last year’s Class B finalists, Briarcliff, by 2-1. The Panthers topped Ardsley 2-0 and beat Croton-Harmon 2-0. They defeated large-school Scarsdale 1-0 and made it four wins on the trot by blanking Hastings, also by 1-0.
The formula, of course, is stingy defense — no opponent thus far has scored more than a single goal on senior keeper Guillermo Pons and his stalwart defensive corps — paired with timely scoring. It has them making their way into the Journal News’ Top Ten in Westchester and Rockland for the first time this season.
Senior Spencer Goldberg scored in the first half against the Hastings Yellow Jackets with help from classmate Jonathan Casas. Pons & Co. made five stops to earn the shutout.
The pattern was the same against Scarsdale. Only the names were changed, as they used to say on “Dragnet.” Junior Luke Masciopinto scored a first-half goal, his fifth in the last four games, off senior Colin Kelly’s assist.
Compared with those two contests, the win against Croton featured a bonanza of Panther goals… two. Masciopinto got his early on an assist from senior stopper Delmiro Dasilva, who’s really come into his own this year. Then Masciopinto’s running mate (and classmate) up front, Hideo Ishihara, scored in the second half with help from senior Thomas Hendrickx. A couple of days before that, Masciopinto varied the routine against Ardsley by netting a pair of unassisted goals before the break, which was all the Black Cats would need.
Rye Neck’s toughest league game thus far was the fast-paced affair against Briarcliff. Goldberg had the Panthers on top 90 seconds before the half on a pass from ninth-grader Masao Ishihara, Hideo’s brother. The Bears’ Matt Sturman knotted the score when he converted a corner kick from Colby Cho. Masciopinto scored the winner, getting loose at midfield for a breakaway score on Bears goalie Andrew Kanovsky. Senior leader Jon Casas controlled the midfield both offensively and defensively. Pons made eight saves.
Last year’s Panthers went 14-5-3 and lost in Regional Final 1-0 to eventual State Champion Center Moriches. That team featured, among others, hard-driving striker Jack Sheldon and do-everything central midfielder Donovan Dunning, both June graduates.
So how have coaches Bryan Iacovelli and Ivan Martinez been able to again field such a tightly knit group of winners?
Before play began, Iacovelli said, “Success this season will depend on team chemistry.” As any chemist knows, you have to have good ingredients. Pons and fellow seniors Thomas Crook at sweeper back, DaSilva, Colin Kelley, and Thomas Hendrickx have played the same impenetrable defense they were playing 12 months ago. Up front, seniors Goldberg and Dan Fujiwara, and juniors Masciopinto and Ishihara, have been joined by a hard-working crew of eleventh grade attackers. And three-year varsity starter Jonathan Casas has done a remarkable job of knitting the attacking and defending groups together.
But the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Rye Neck played host to Edgemont post-press time, and they’ll travel to Bronxville for a tough league matchup this afternoon. Then comes the first of two biggies with archrival Blind Brook at their place on Tuesday.
Colin Kelley (6) gets off a header against six Croton defenders as Hideo Ishihara (10) looks on.