On a hot day this week, red and black swarmed the Rye High turf. Lanternflies? The bugs of the summer, red and black, and to our local trees, fatal?
It was Rye High’s Varsity Field Hockey team, nearly as fast and much more deadly.
Spirits were high in the August sun as the preseason and tryouts begun. The players and Coach Kelly Vegliante said they expected a great season.
Last year, for the third year, the team competed in the Section Two League B Championship. They came in with a dazzling record — only gave up 12 goals, scored 107 — but ultimately lost to Lakeland High School.
Looking back, all the players recalled that their most memorable game last season was against Scarsdale. Kate Morreale, a junior midfielder, said they were having “an unlucky day”. The bus broke down, rain poured, a tree blocked their route, and the team was late. Sophie Bourne, a co-captain and defender, said they were “not meant to win. We were really the underdogs.” But, against all odds, they did win. The girls yelled so hard in celebration that, according to Sophie, “Loads of us lost our voices.”
In 2020 and 2022, the Garnets were league champions, but last year they lost seven seniors, leaving “a lot of shoes to fill,” according to Coach Vegliante. And filled they will be with new talent including ninth-graders Kate Pazzouli and Olivia Prada. The coach is also excited to have the Whaling sisters back. Lilly, a senior, and Beau, a sophomore, “are first-rate attackers.”
The RHS team will be ready when the season starts. Over the summer, Assistant Varsity Coach PJ Johns designed a conditioning program for the girls. Many played in a summer league held at Manhattanville. Rye made it to the playoffs, finishing second out of eight teams. Many of the girls also played on Vegliante’s club team, Fairfield County United.
Chloe Holden, sophomore goalkeeper, said they’ve “all been working hard over the summer.” She had no doubts about this coming season. “To understand where the power is, we’ll watch games on replay, especially those against Scarsdale, Lakeland, and Mamaroneck.
Lilly Whaling, a senior co-captain who plays forward, said that the team will “focus on our weak spots from last year, practicing before games all through preseason. We’re looking to go even further than we did last year… and we’re ready to go.”