Rye Neck Fall Sports Preview: Panthers Already on the Prowl

The early portion of the autumn season has gone according to plan for several Panther programs, but others are hoping to change their fortunes after missteps and critical injuries to key players.

Published September 23, 2011 3:12 PM
5 min read


previewthumbThe early portion of the autumn season has gone according to plan for several Panther programs, but others are hoping to change their fortunes after missteps and critical injuries to key players.


By Mitch Silver


The early portion of the autumn season has gone according to plan for several Panther programs, but others are hoping to change their fortunes after missteps and critical injuries to key players.


Field Hockey

Nicole Bolnik’s group burst out of the box September 12 with a 3-1 win against Briarcliff. Athena Nathan scored the first two goals of the season, at nine and 12 minutes into the game. The Bears came back with six minutes to go to make it 2-1, but a picture-perfect goal by Briana Cefaloni off a feed from Elena Hurlbut iced the victory with 60 seconds on the clock.


Coach Bolnik emphasized the efforts of “The Two Nics”: freshman Nicole Miller, who dominated the left side of the midfield, and junior Nickole Morgan, who controlled the center. “It was a tremendous effort, a great first win,” the coach said.


Byram Hills went down next, 2-1, as sophomore Melanie Moore came off the bench for the game-winner.




previewVThe Panthers are off to a fast start this fall, whitewashing Rye, Blind Brook, and Briarcliff in succession by 3-0 scores. Captain Julia Bilotta had nine kills and four aces in an efficient 25-16, 26-24, 25-20 victory over the Bears. Teammate Dominique Falcone had eight assists and three aces.
The team hosts the Port Chester Rams September 23.


Boys’ Soccer


Misfortune befell the Panthers when All-Everything striker Ivan Martinez went down with a knee injury after leading his team to a 2-1 OT win over Solomon Schechter in their first game. He scored both goals.


After falling behind in the opening 30 seconds against Fox Lane at home, the team pulled together behind senior midfield dynamos Marco Callisto and Kevin Tapia. Rafael DoPrado scored both goals before the rainy first half was over. Teammate Orlando Gonzalez had seven saves in the nets to preserve the 2-1 victory.


Co-coaches Frank Gizzo and Brian Iacovelli, in their sixth season together, watched as their patched-together lineup lost in back-to-back games over the September 17-18 weekend, first to Briarcliff 2-1, with Alex Barreto scoring the lone goal, and then to Croton-Harmon 2-0, in the first round of the Irvington Tournament. The next day, Pleasantville won 1-0 in the Panthers’ fourth game in five days. Martinez will undergo surgery; he may be back for the playoffs.


Girls’ Soccer


previewGSLike their male counterparts, the young girls’ soccer team has had to deal with a tough injury, to goalkeeper Rehema Ulli. Head coach Doug Choron and assistant Karen Fontecchio moved Kayla Pugliese to keeper after an opening 5-0 loss to Harrison.


Defeats by Ossining and Pleasantville preceded a matchup against last year’s nationally ranked squad from Briarcliff. The Bears took the game 3-1, but not before Lauren Vallerelli scored Rye Neck’s first goal of the season on an assist from Khloe Lewis.


Veteran referee Gino Dippilito had this to say after the game: “Doug Choron knows how to coach. The kids are young now, but Rye Neck will be back.”


Girls’ Tennis


previewGTRye Neck tennis is off to an extremely encouraging start, led by two ninth-graders at the top two singles slots, Ekim Buyuk and Diana King. Despite being moved up two leagues by the powers that be, the Panthers are more than holding their own, beating area rivals Blind Brook and Harrison by 4-3 scores and dropping a hard-fought 4-2 contest to the Rye Garnets. Though they fell to sectional powerhouses Greeley and Byram Hills, head coach Mark Canno, a 1985 RNHS graduate who also coaches the golf team, sees only good things ahead for his charges.


“We won our league three of the last four years, so it’s only right that we move up this season. Playing better opponents is the way to improve your game, and I see us improving every match. Of course, Ekim’s pretty good already. By the time she graduates, I see her winning the State title.”




Head coach Matthew Wurtz is predicting strong seasons from his harriers, with an experienced boys’ team returning that features captain Charlie Fraioli and Brendan Crowley. Wurtz will also look to Luis Ferriera, Will Kebbe, Mike DeCicco, and Lucas Bucknavage to have the squad contending for the league championship. The girls’ team features newcomer Natalie Tanner, who is expected to make her presence felt this year.


Rye Neck took part in the Suffern Invitational September 18, finishing ninth in the small schools boys’ section, with Fraioli coming in 13th in a time that would have been Top-8 in the large schools race. Tanner took the bronze in her section.




previewfootballThe Black Hats took their lumps in the first two contests of the season. They dropped a 20-0 decision in the opener at Tuckahoe September 10, and then fell to Haldane at home one week later. The Panthers started strong against the Blue Devils, with quarterback Thomas Pipolo leading the team downfield for an early touchdown on a keeper. He then tossed it to Steven Falco – one of two captains along with Luke Morgan – for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead. Haldane, however, scored on the ensuing possession, and reeled off 28 total unanswered points for the win.

Rye Neck will look to turn it around September 24 at Albertus Magnus.

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