A Strong Tennis Team Might Be Even Stronger: “We last won the Fairchester Athletic Association in 2005, the year we were runners-up in New England.
By Mitch Silver and Melanie Cane
Girls’ LAX Team Is Back and Ready for Battle
Having won the NYSAIS championship last year, the Wildcats Girls’ Lacrosse team has a good chance at a 2-peat with 16 returning players. Of the eight seniors, two are captains Zoe Vernie and Julia Massaro, both of whom will be taking their game to the collegiate level this fall. Other four-year starting veterans are Mariana Lee and Emily Duarte. Returning sophomore Taylor Regan is another outstanding player.
Coach Georgette Summers is looking forward to “building a team, practice by practice and game by game, to see what we can accomplish as a team.” She praises the girls for their quick thinking, teamwork, and knowledge of the game. Is there anything they need to work on? “Execution under pressure and timing of double teams,” said the coach.
After spending spring break in Florida, the Wildcats were back with a vengeance, topping King Low Heywood 18-7 in their first game of the season on March 30. Massaro led the scoring with six goals. Duarte added five, and Regan three.
Rye Country Day’s home opener is April 13 against Hackley.
A Strong Tennis Team Might Be Even Stronger
“We last won the Fairchester Athletic Association in 2005, the year we were runners-up in New England. If things break our way, this group might be just as good.” The usually circumspect coach of the Wildcats, Gil Castagna, was clearly optimistic on the team’s return from their spring break training session at the Saddlebrook Tennis Resort in Florida. “We have strong senior leadership with seven players coming back, talented kids up from last year’s JV, and Trevor Faulk, a sophomore who’s new to the school from Greenwich High.”
The loss of only Paul Leake, last year’s captain, to graduation means Coach Castagna can field virtually the same team that finished second in the FAA regular season last year. Then, in the post-season tournament, seniors Bo Curry (singles) and Jonathan Faxon and Ryan Sobel (doubles) reached the finals as underclassmen. With Curry and fellow senior Sam Hearst looking to play singles along with super-soph Lucas Biondi, the 2015 Wildcats will be a known quantity. Right, coach?
“Well, we had some nice surprises down in Florida. The boys put in five solid days of skills development with the pros down there, and some of the kids on the bubble made major improvement.” The coach expects strong competition for the fourth singles slot all year long, with newcomer Faulk and junior Jack Alpert sure to be in the mix.
In doubles, Castagna expects to see the Faxon/Sobel team out there every match. “The Saddlebrook people wanted to rotate all the kids through doubles play, but I had them keep Faxon and Sobel together. Their strongest asset is their knowledge of each other. I want to build on that even more.” Nathan Spring, Nicolas Wilmer, and the “Royal Tannenbaums” (actually, Teddy Tananbaum and Daniel Tanenbaum are unrelated) should all be on the courts at some point.
Those courts will be busy beginning April 7, when Hamden Hall visits for the season opener, followed the next day by a trip to Harrison High. The coach smiled. “All the matches will be tough. Brunswick, Greens Farms, Hopkins Grammar…there aren’t any weak sisters in our league.”
Defending FAA LAX Champions Looking For One More Goal
Can you sweep through your league without a loss and still end the season wanting more? That was certainly the case for Coach Matt Rosolen’s Wildcats in 2014. Their undefeated season came to an abrupt halt in the finals of the New York State Association of Independent Schools tournament last May when they dropped a controversial 10-9 thriller to Ivy League champ Hackley.
It’s one of those good news/bad news situations in 2015 for Coach Rosolen. “We have our whole defense back, except for our four-year starter in goal, Michael Farber. Fortunately, we have his backup netminder, Sean Price, who’s ready to step in. Senior Andrew Antonacci, a long-stick midfielder who’s a four-year starter, is one of our captains. Riley van den Broek, the quarterback of our attack, is another senior captain. And the Halloran brothers, Kyle and Will, give us a lot of leadership whenever they’re out there.”
Still, Rye Country Day lost two of its most dynamic attacking players with the graduation of co-captains Dylan Bass and middie face-off artist Tyler Miller. Coach, how can you make up for the loss of so many goals?
“With van den Broek and junior Justin Weissman on attack along with Tommy Chai, who logged a bunch of minutes as a freshman last year, I think we’ll be fine. And another thing: you can’t win without strong man-up and man-down play. Our kids are athletic enough to keep us in the game.”
The coach also mentioned a few young players to keep an eye on: Will Dodge, Nick Daetwiler, Max Manning, and Dylan Bass’s brother, Clayton. “We’ll know a lot more next week when we host Portledge and the Gunnery School back-to- back.”
What the coach didn’t mention was the circle drawn on the calendar for May 11. That’s the day they travel to Hackley for the first time since last year’s NYSAIS final. Redemption, anyone?