The last week of October and the first week of November saw a half-dozen or more local teams competing in Sectional playoffs.
By Mitch Silver
The last week of October and the first week of November saw a half-dozen or more local teams competing in Sectional playoffs. Rye Neck Boys’ soccer, are still in the running for State title. For the others, the season has come to an end.
The Black Hats dropped a shocker November 1 when they lost the Class B title game to lightly regarded Woodlands, 28-20. It was the third year in a row the rivals met with a Section 1 title on the line: Woodlands won two years ago and Rye Neck won last fall. Many observers thought Bronxville and Rye Neck were the twin pillars of the group, so Woodlands defeating both on consecutive Saturdays was big news. And sad news for the 6-2 Panthers.
Still, the Rye Neck ground game, built around superback and sectional leader Dom Brescia, put up some amazing numbers, 300 hundred yards a game running the ball, gaining 2084 all-purpose yards and scoring 16 touchdowns. “Alone” is a misnomer. The offensive line, coupled with QB Jake Sevean, receiver Chris Richart, and company, had a lot to do with it.
The second-seeded Panthers hosted defending Class C champions Pawling in a semifinal on Election Day. The No. 3 Tigers came away with a 2-0 victory on goals by Lana Felice and Taylor Arnold.
Sadly, it means the end the end of their high school field hockey careers for co-captains Briana Cefaloni and Nicole Miller, the Panthers’ high scorer and dominant central midfielder. The silver lining for Coach Beth Gulotta and her goalkeeper coach Amanda Mahncke is Cefaloni and Miller will be the only two seniors who won’t be back in 2015.
Coach Mark Canno’s team overcame the loss of singles star Ekim Buyuk to a tennis academy, beating the teams they were supposed to beat and one, Harrison, they weren’t supposed to beat. Freshman Clemence Balzano, gained a ton of experience at number one. Diana King was a strong number two.
Paired in doubles, they won their way through the Conference 3 tournament, beating Edgemont in the semis 6-2, 7-5, before dropping the final to Keio’s top team, 6-3, 3-6, 10-5. The next week in Sectionals, Balzano-King lost in the quarters to Yorktown, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. “Diana and Clemence played their hardest and competed right till the final point,” Canno said. “It’s all a coach can ask for.”
After a semifinal loss to eventual Section champion Dobbs Ferry, Coach Kristen Desio said, “We ended the season 13-6 and, overall, it was one of our strongest in a couple of years.
“We knew it would be challenging to face Dobbs on their home court. We won the first game 25-21, which was a nice confidence booster. After changing sides of the net, the girls struggled in Game 2 and lost 14-25.
“We were two points from taking Game 3 at 23-20 when four straight offensive errors allowed Dobbs to gain the lead. Both teams fought point for point, but a front-row tipping error gave them the last point they needed to win the third game.
“Game 4 was another back-and-forth affair. Ultimately, the team with the fewest errors, Dobbs Ferry, won it 25-23. It was a really hard loss. Coach Desio said, “We’re graduating four key players. We’ll miss them, but I’m already looking forward to August to see which of the younger players will step up in 2015.”
The final two meets of the season were the Section 1 Coaches’ Invitational followed by the Sectional meet. Coach Lori Penesis said of the Coaches race, “It was a good homecoming meet with many course personal records and some overall PRs.”
The varsity boys finished 12th of 17 teams with Co-Captain Ryan O’Day leading the Panthers, coming in 39th out of 145 runners. The girls were led by Co-Captain Cayla Vinzons, who finished 27th out of 115 runners. They tied Harrison for tenth place on scoring points, though the Huskies were given the nod due to a faster sixth runner. “I would also like to recognize Kevin Hassenfratz,” Coach Penesis added, “for smashing the 30-minute mark in 28:11.”
The year’s final contest saw the boys finish in the middle of the pack, 20th out of 36 schools. This time, Conner Sexton was first for Rye Neck in 18:09.6, with O’Day five seconds and four places back. Vinzons ran a 21:16.6 for a 26th-place finish in a field of 180 runners, which puts her into contention for All-County honors.
After an up-and-down season — the biggest up being a 3-0 defeat of Blind Brook, the first time Coach Sue Hannon’s charges accomplished that feat during her tenure — the Panthers were seeded 13th for the Class B Sectional playoffs. That meant traveling to play perennial power Albertus Magnus High. Despite an astounding 23 saves by keeper Sabrina Albanese, Rye Neck was eliminated by the fourth-ranked Falcons, 2-1.