Rye Neck Boys’ Soccer
Top-Ranked Panthers Beat North Salem, Gain Class B Semifinals
By Mitch Silver
The Rye Neck Soccer team doesn’t look all that imposing on paper. Top goal scorer Luke Masciopinto has exactly eight on the season. By way of comparison, seven Section 1 players have tallied 20 or more, including Zach Kornblum at archrival Blind Brook. One hundred eleven players have more assists than the Panthers’ leading set-up guys.
But what Rye Neck has, in spades, is a defense. And they proved it again Monday by shutting out 8th-seeded North Salem, 2-0 in the Class B quarterfinals. Senior goalkeeper Guillermo Pons could have worked on his stamp collection back there in the nets, if he has one. The Tigers managed two moon balls they’re calling shots because Guillermo was called on to pluck them out of the air.
Meanwhile, on attack, a perfect set play gave the Panthers the lead ten minutes into the second half. Co-captain Jon Casas hit a perfect corner kick toward the penalty spot and midfielder Delmiro DaSilva did what he always does: headed it with force, this time past the bemused North Salem keeper.
Thirteen minutes later, freshman Masao Ishihara raced down a hopeless ball, took it away from a bigger, slower defender, and made a gift of it to his older brother Hideo. Rye Neck 2, North Salem 0. Game over.
Afterwards, Casas and fellow senior Dan Fujiwara, who both played on last year’s Sectional champions, were asked what makes for such a tight-knit defense. Fujiwara answered, “Chemistry.” Casas added, “That goes for the whole team. We’re a small school…a real family.”
Coaches Bryan Iacovelli and Ivan Martinez had little time to celebrate with the family, because the Panthers were set to host the semifinal Wednesday against 4th-ranked Blind Brook. The two teams are evenly matched, with the first meeting this year in Rye Brook ending in a scoreless tie. The return game days later in Rye Neck ended in a 2-1 OT Panther victory.
Del DaSilva (17) wins yet another header and sends it on goal.
Thomas Hendricx (8) and his posse (Hideo Ishihara, left, and Luke Masciopinto) attack.
Dan Fujiwara puts the moves on his defender.
Hideo Ishiwara shoots against North Salem.