Panthers Pounce on Irvington, 14-8
By Mitch Silver
Only a few years ago, Rye Neck didn’t have enough players to field a varsity team, but when Head Coach Jonathan Sable’s Panthers took on visiting Irvington May 3, they were on a five-game winning streak. All those wins came against teams with losing records, but the Bulldogs entered the game over .500 on the season.
Less than two minutes in, eighth grader Jake Reese — part of one of the two sets of twins on the Rye Neck team — opened the scoring. After sophomore goalie Josef Zyngier made an outstanding save on one end, senior captain Matthew Pereira scored at the other to put the Panthers up by two.
But the lead didn’t last long. After Rye Neck defender Russell Foster Jr. was helped off the field with a leg injury, the Bulldogs scored three straight times to end the first quarter up 3-2.
Two minutes into the second period, midfielder Owen Reese — the other half of the Reese twins — scored to level the game at three all. Irvington scored a minute later, but Reese scored again on a feed from junior Luke West to make it 4-4. Owen then scored his hat trick, coming around from behind the cage and shooting high to put the home team up 5-4. The sides traded goals to close out the half with the Panthers up 6-5.
Rye Neck had more possession of the ball in the second quarter, thanks in large part to the work by junior midfielder Michael Bayha in the X. Bayha would help his team to 13 face-off wins for the game.
Rye Neck dominated the third quarter, scoring five times to Irvington’s two. First, eighth grader Eli Thurer took the ball at midfield and fed sophomore Hugo Hennenfent for the goal a minute and a half in. The visitors would get one back, but Owen Reese scored on a low shot at 6:29 to restore the lead to two. Pereira scored while the Panthers were a man up to go ahead by three. Irvington got their seventh goal at 2:21, but Luke West got another of his eight assists in the game when he passed to Jake Reese for the locals’ tenth goal with 1:15 left. Twenty-five seconds later, West scored on another man-up situation. Zyngier made a terrific stop on a low shot as the buzzer sounded.
The final quarter was tilted even more Rye Neck’s way. After Irvington’s final goal half-a-minute in, the Panthers scored three more times. The first one came on a goalie miscue, when he bobbled a change-up of a shot into his own cage. Then Jake Reese scored his fourth and fifth goals to ice the game in the closing minutes. Zyngier put the cherry on the cake with a diving stop with two minutes left.
Afterwards, Coach Sable handed out the ceremonial hard hat to the player of the game, Josef Zyngier, though it could easily have gone to any one of four or five players. The coach said, “This was our best offensive display of the year. We still need to be more efficient with the ball, and communicate better on defense, but I’m happy with the win.”