There are four girls’ sports (not counting the female half of cross-country) playing for Rye Neck this autumn.
By Mitch Silver
There are four girls’ sports (not counting the female half of cross-country) playing for Rye Neck this autumn. Not one of the field hockey, soccer, tennis, and volleyball squads has a winning record in 2015, but that can turn around by playoff time.
Beth Gulotta’s Field Hockey team may be the best winless team in school history. They fell Tuesday to the 9-2 Croton-Harmon Tigers. Earlier losses to North Salem, Pleasantville, and Harrison, twice, were followed by a 3-1 defeat by Irvington at Dows Lane Field October 1. Cristal Finkenberg scored for Rye Neck.
Putting the ball in the net has been Rye Neck’s problem all season. The ledger shows three ties: against Edgemont, Pearl River, and most recently, a 1-1 draw with a strong Ursuline team last Saturday. But that still leaves the Panthers desperate for a few quality wins and a better seeding before the Class C playoffs get underway.
Sue Hannon’s soccer team has been hit hard by injuries. Among the wounded, Captain Cassie Sterbens was lost for the season and Sabrina Kates missed a couple of weeks. Early losses to Croton-Harmon, Pleasantville (by an unpleasant 8-0), and Briarcliff got the Panthers off on the wrong foot. A tidy 2-1 defeat of Solomon Schecter September 17 was the one bright moment in the season.
After a pair of losses to Nanuet and Irvington and two defeats by rival Harrison, Rye Neck is a team looking forward to the playoffs and possible redemption.
Volleyball had a tough week. Looking to improve on a 2-7 record, Kristen Desio’s squad hosted 5th-ranked rival Blind Brook October 2. For a while, everything was peachy. The Panthers won the first two games in nearly identical fashion, 25-20 and 25-21.
In each game they stumbled out of the gate, falling behind 3-0 in Game 1 and 5-1 in Game 2. Each time they served their way into the lead. And each game saw senior Jackie DiCicco put away a smash at the net for the winning point.
But the Black Cats couldn’t stand prosperity. In Game 3, they fell behind 5-1 and couldn’t recover. Down 19-11, the ref called some phantom touches in Blind Brook’s favor, and the visitors took it, 25-15. Game 4 was more of the same. The score was 7-2 for the visitors, then 13-3 and finally 25-17.
The Panthers took heart when team leader Samantha Yannuzzi emerged from the locker room for Game 5 in a borrowed JV shirt to play libero. Her calm demeanor and skilled touches had her team up by 16-14 in the deciding tilt.
But it was not to be. Behind the masterly hitting of Alessandra Antony, the Trojans took nine of the next 11 points before ending things, 25-21. Three days later, Rye Neck faced Class B’s 4th-ranked team, Westlake, and succumbed, 3-0.
Tennis is a traditionally strong sport at Rye Neck. And strangely, Coach Mark Canno calls the current 2-6 team “one of my best in years.” After the Panthers’ match against Keio Tuesday was suspended due to darkness with the Unicorns leading 3-2, he elaborated.
“We are in an extremely tough league with Bronxville, Edgemont, and Keio. We played Harrison and Yorktown out of league, and they’re both having up years.
“Take today’s match. It’s typical of the amazing effort by all the players this season. Alana Proudian was down 6-1, 5-2 at 3rd singles, battled through adversity, and had an incredible comeback to win 1-6, 7-6, 10-6. It was the best win of her Rye Neck career.
“Captain Julia Wright and freshman Nagisa Shionoya won at 1st doubles 6-4, 6-2. Although Clemence Balzano lost 6-4, 6-4 at 1st singles to Mayu Tezuka of Keio, it was her best match of the season against the best player in Section 1.”
Rye Neck will pair their top two singles players — sophomore Balzano and senior Mizuki Shionoya — in doubles at the Conference tournament that begins Tuesday. “I’m expecting big things from those two girls,” Canno said. “They should win the Conference title and contend at Sectionals.”