The 2011 season was an interesting one to say the least for the Garnets football team. They kicked off the campaign by starting 0-3, and many called for head coach Dino Garr’s head. But Garr’s squad would end the season on fire, thanks in part to a quarterback change from senior Jake Meyerson to freshman Andrew Livingston.
By Michael Gilbert and Melanie Cane
Gridsmen Have Their Weapons Ready
The 2011 season was an interesting one to say the least for the Garnets football team. They kicked off the campaign by starting 0-3, and many called for head coach Dino Garr’s head. But Garr’s squad would end the season on fire, thanks in part to a quarterback change from senior Jake Meyerson to freshman Andrew Livingston. Rye beat archrival Harrison during a stretch of four consecutive victories, pushing their record to 4-3, and propelling the team into the playoffs, where they would lose in the second round to John Jay.
This year’s team looks a lot different on paper. The team lost 13 senior starters, including the running back tandem of Joe Simolacaj and Meyerson. They are also fairly small on the offensive line, which could make life harder for Livingston. Livingston said of the supposed inexperience, “From an outside perspective, you could say we have a lack of experience. However, we are a very skilled and fast team and if we put in the work we can fill the void left by the seniors.”
The team does have some weapons to work with. Four-year starter Jimmy Dugan anchors the defense at cornerback and the team has an athletic linebacking core of Laz Chavez, Danny Sullivan, Shane O’Malley, and Chris Lipari. On the other side of the ball, sophomore Tim DeGraw and junior Conor Murphy provide some explosiveness to the running back position, along with Jimmy Dugan and O’Malley. The running backs are the strength of the team, and will provide most of the offense. The Garnets will only go as far as the backs will carry them.
Sophomores Drew Abate and Brendan Cassano and juniors Andrew Petersen and O’Malley add to the overall athleticism of the team. What the Garnets have lost in experience they make up for in raw talent.
Strategically, expect the Garnets to have a slightly different approach this season. Defensively, they will run similar schemes. However, according to multiple sources, the team will run an offense unlike last season’s.
“This year we’re going to run more of a spread offense with a quicker tempo,” said Neil Parrello, rising senior captain and one of the team’s leaders. A spread offense would mean more passing, which was a rarity last season. When Livingston did drop back to pass, he had success. A touchdown through the air to Dylan Lynch against Harrison reminded everyone that Livingston could throw the ball as well as manage a game.
When asked about the possibility of throwing more this season, super sophomore Livingston said, “I hope we do. We’ve been working on our air game this offseason, and I feel like I’ve improved that part of my game.”
Rye opens the season at Pearl River September 8, then plays Sleepy Hollow at home, travels to Eastchester, and comes back home to play Horace Greeley. You can bet Rye will be looking to go 4-0 and build momentum headed into their three toughest games of the season: John Jay, Tappan Zee, both away games, then the season finale, a showdown with Harrison at home, October 20.
On the Fast Track
Fall cross-country is known as a sport that is fun, but one that also allows many of Rye’s best athletes to stay in shape heading into the winter sports season. This year’s cross-country team, however, is solely focused on one thing: cross-country.
Led by captains Jason Chen, Joey Viger, Liza Morell, and Amber Altamura, the team is poised for success. Although they are without Taylor Love, one of the most decorated track athletes Rye has ever seen and now a freshman at Middlebury, the team still has the talent to pick up where they left off. Last season, they had multiple runners competing in Counties.
“I believe the captains can motivate and lead our team to incredible success,” said Chen. “Being on the cross-country team is not only about competing, but also about building lasting friendships. All of us are incredibly close, like a big family.”
Morell added, “We know we lost a lot of talented runners, but I definitely have faith in this year’s team. Some of the younger boys are scary fast, and I think we’re lucky to have such young talent.” He went on to say, “It’s only my second season with these kids, but it feels longer than that because cross-country is always so good at making newcomers feel like part of the team right away.”
Besides the captains, look for Chris McGinnis, Jack Durkee, Matt Maloney, Ryan Bird, and Jack Ryan to be Rye’s go-to runners this fall.
The most important meets this year are the League and the Manhattan Invitational.
Boys’ Soccer Squad Is Hungry
Rye varsity soccer had so much promise last year, until it ran into a trap game against Pelham, where the team was dealt a crushing home playoff defeat in overtime. After losing some of the most talented players Rye has seen in years, including Matheus Gomes who is playing professionally overseas, Rye will be put to the test this year.
The Garnets captain is senior goalie Liam Harris, who has been a member of the squad since he was a sophomore under the guidance of then-goalie James Rimmer. This is Harris’ team, and he will look to guide it past the first round this year. He is incredibly focused, and has his eye on a deep playoff run.
“Last year’s loss to Pelham was incredibly hard to stomach,” said Harris. “Losing as many players as we did, we need to come back stronger than our competition. The seniors are all playing with a chip on their shoulders. We plan to come out hungry and relentless. No mercy.”
Senior Brandon LaBella feels the same way. “We are going to support each other and play as a team, and, hopefully, that gets us to where we want to be.”
There is one thing Harris wants to stress with his fellow players this year: team unity. “The underclassmen have talent that will complement our returning veterans’ skill and experience. Each player is as important as the next, from the first down to the 22nd. Everyone has been working tremendously hard this off-season, and I see our squad as a serious threat throughout the season as well as the playoffs,” he said.
The incoming seniors will dictate how successful this team will be. LaBella, Harris, Colby Ellis, Jackson Reed, Marshall Vickerson, and others will log significant minutes this season, and will look to be the replacements for some of last year’s talent that is headed off to college.
Coach Jared Small said the seniors “are eager to make their mark on the program, as most of them have been waiting for several years to crack the starting lineup. They are primed and ready for their chance in the spotlight and I expect nothing less than a monumental effort from them.”
The coach had a few words about the seniors. “We will look for Harris to be a stalwart in the back and set the tone for us each and every match. Ryan [Ackert], Jackson, and Brandon bring tenacity and hunger to the backline. We will look for Colby Ellis to put his blazing speed to good use and start finding the back of the net on a regular basis during his senior campaign. Michael [Garofalo] brings vision, poise, and calmness to the midfield. His size and intelligence will be major assets.”
And Coach Small is excited to “finally” have Trevor Hele, along with Richard Hardis, Rory O’Gallagher, Marshall Vickerson, Antonio Varela, and Matt Brunner. “Trevor spent his junior year on JV due to the logjam of seniors on the varsity last season. He had a strong JV season and earned significant praise from his teammates during the off-season. I look forward to adding him into the mix,” said the coach.
Rye is not ranked highly in any preseason polls, but they are looking to prove those polls wrong. Maybe flying under the radar is just what this team needs.
Field Hockey Has Lots of Empty Shoes to Fill
Last year’s team had a phenomenal season. They were undefeated league champions and runner-up in the sectional finals, finishing 16-2-1. This year’s team is a shadow of its former self, due to the graduation of 11 seniors, most of whom were superstars.
Despite the empty shoes left to fill, the team captains, Lacey Collins, Alex Bennett, Scarlett Sulliman, and Claire Martinelli, remain optimistic. They agree that they’ve got a huge void to fill, but they are confident that this year’s seniors and the experienced coaches, especially head Coach Emily Fitzgerald, can provide the leadership, role modeling, and teaching skills needed to help the younger players blossom into great players.
“We are looking forward to having a great season and we hope the new team develops into another great team,” Fitzgerald said.
Tryouts began this week, so the empty shoes have yet to be filled. Coach Fitzgerald says the roster should be completed soon.
Girls’ Soccer Pushes the Restart Button
After enjoying consecutive years of unprecedented success, the RHS girls’ soccer team suffered a disappointing, but respectable 2011 season. This was due in large part to a succession of injuries that put a junior varsity keeper in the box and sidelined some key players.
The 2011 team finished 10-7-1, and since then, eight seniors graduated. But as the saying goes, “Pick yourself up, wipe yourself off, and start all over again.”
Coach Rich Savage said he’s looking to make a run at the league and sectional championships. There are nine returning seniors. And Savage already is pushing the team, with dual practices starting at 6:30 a.m.
Practice and tryouts began this week with a record turnout of team hopefuls. The players to watch, according to Coach Savage, are senior tri-captain Vania Ludman and Kate Whiston, a junior. Ludman joined the team as a freshman starting forward. She was a superstar until breaking her collarbone during the 2010 regional finals. Last season, Ludman returned to perform her magic and this year she says she’s healthy and ready to go. The starting keeper, Kelly Barnhardt, broke her collarbone last year during pre-season practice, but she, too, is healthy and back in the box.
Joining Ludman as senior tri-captains are Audrey Love and Catherine Livingston.
Unity Nets Great Results
In his first year as head tennis coach, Tony Campbell led the 2011 girls’ tennis team to their second consecutive League Championship with a record of 8-1. Since then, seven of the top players graduated.
Many returning players are prepared to fill their spots. Returning seniors are Natalie Gardner and tri-captains Ali Sims, Paola Peraza, and Emma Jennings. Other returning players include sophomore Chloe Jennings and juniors Alanna Morque, Farah Kueleers, and Julia Lynnette.
The tri-captains are competing for the three singles spots, along with Morque and Kueleers. The tri-captains said they are looking forward to working together as a team, hoping to repeat as League champions.
To build unity, the players are planning team sleepovers, team dinners, and a trip to the U.S. Open.
Tryouts began this week with a healthy showing of prospective players.
Volleyball Team Aims to Take League by Storm
Last year marked head Coach Andrea Reiff’s debut, and she took over a team that had won only one game the previous season. Reiff knew the team’s morale was low, and her first item of business was to change their mindset into that of a winning team. Although they had a rough start, losing the first six games, they ultimately went on a winning streak and finished third in the League. This year, Reiff said she hopes to take the League by storm.
The team lost three players to graduation, but has five returning seniors with a lot of experience, as well as others with remarkable talent. These include Jessie Moore, Marissa Curin, Giana Paganelli, and Courtney Brown. Coach Reiff said the players have “a lot of heart and drive.”
Coach Reiff’s enthusiasm is largely based on the fact that a majority of players attended volleyball, played on the Downstate team year-round and participated in open clinics in Rye this summer. Also, a change in the League makeup this year moved Rye Neck, Rye’s most formidable opponent, to another League.
Reiff scheduled two pre-season scrimmages. One against Westlake, a superstar team, and one against Irvington, an average team. “I want the girls to get used to playing different caliber teams,’’ Reiff said.
Practice and tryouts began this week. The final roster as well as the captains were still to be determined on deadline.
Big Strokes to Come
The girls’ swimming/diving team has enjoyed many successful years, including finishing 7-1 last season. Rye’s only loss was to Horace Greeley and the team aims to avenge that loss this year.
Pre-season practice and tryouts began this week at Rye Golf Club. Although the final roster had not been set by deadline, it includes about 35 swimmers and divers, eight returning seniors among them. Captains had not yet been chosen.
Senior swimmers to watch are Melissa Fulenwider, Katie Konopka, and diver Mary Murtagh. Junior swimmers to watch are Kelly Delane, Charlotte Nixon, and Camilla Perez-Signini. Sophomore Nicole Keane and freshman Julia MacLaury also are on the “watch” list.
Coach Shannon Bolger said the girls are excited and anticipating another successful season.