Boys’ Basketball: With the new season comes a new coach, Chris Wirth, and seven new players, including four freshman.
By Melanie Cane
Boys’ Ice Hockey
Last year, the Wildcats won the FAA Championship, and are looking to defend their title this year. Having graduated a number of key players, they will have to start over with new recruits. Leading the charge will be the three senior captains: Gabe Regan, Serafim Rocco, and Michael Mossman.
The Wildcats played two scrimmages prior to their November 25th season opener. They tied St Luke’s 7-7 away on November 22 in an evening game. The following afternoon they hosted John Jay and came out with a much stronger effort beating John Jay 3-2.
The team traveled to Long Island to play their first game at Portledge School. Despite their 9-3 loss, Coach Erik Kallio said he was pleased with the team’s effort and the fact that they improved throughout the game. Kyle Halloran scored all three goals for the Wildcats.
Their next games are at The Princeton Day School.
With the new season comes a new coach, Chris Wirth, and seven new players, including four freshman. Coach Wirth brings with him collegiate playing and coaching experience. He played at Washington College in Maryland and coached at Wesleyan and University of Bridgeport.
Senior captain Tyler Fernandez (who is heading to Columbia University where he’ll be a pitcher on the baseball team) is one of five seniors on the team. The other seniors are James McPhail, “the big guy down front,” Peter Shu, Alexander Kassin, and Jack Zenkel. Junior Captain Salim Green returns, along with Vince Conn and Jeremiah Washington, also juniors. The team is large at 15, but currently, five of the players are out with minor injuries.
Coach Wirth is looking forward to a great season. According to the coach, the team’s strengths are guard play (“We score a lot of points, especially Fernandez who scored over 25 points in two scrimmages”) and defense. “We are not big, but we are fast and we box out well.”
The Wildcats have played three scrimmages and won two of them. Their first game is December 6 against The Loyola School at the Horace Mann Invitational Tournament.
The Wildcats are coming off a championship season with eight returning players and four freshman newcomers. The only senior on the team is Co-Captain Jess Grasso, but her junior Co-Captain, Tara Berger, is a four-year veteran. Rounding out the juniors are Jenn Howland, Maria McEnroe, Nereida (Nery) Mendez, and Zoe Verni. Sophomores Maddy Cooper and Melanie Mandell will empathize with the newbies, Xaviera Marbury, Emily Moran, Cilicia Payne, and Taylor Regan.
Coach Margaret Scarcella says she’s pleased with how well the girls played in recent scrimmages against Riverdale and Scarsdale, especially with how well they incorporated the instructions she gave them from the sidelines. “It is a really good sign that the girls were able to compete with Scarsdale, a Class A team,” said Scarcella.
They are still learning the plays and getting used to playing with one another, but the coach thinks the team is poised to have a great season. In addition to talent, a great work ethic, and height, one of the best things the team has going for it is that each player can play at least two different positions.
The team and the coaches would love to repeat, but as the season begins, they are focused on improving and strengthening their game.
Their season opener is against Sacred Heart in the Fieldston Tournament December 6.
Tara Berger was a starting forward on the gold medal winning USA National Basketball Team, which trounced Canada 77-26 at the Maccabi Games in July. She led the team in blocked shots and was 2nd in rebounds. Berger, 16, was the youngest player on the team, playing alongside three teammates who are now playing college ball. More than 8,000 athletes from over 70 countries participated in the games and competed in over 30 different sports.