When the honors for the 2023 season were handed out by the New York State Sportswriters and Coaches’ Organization for Girls Sports, Senior midfielder Maddy Walsh and Coach Rich Savage were among those selected.
Senior forward Isabel Harvey, meanwhile, was named All-State First Team.
Walsh, who’ll play for the Air Force Academy next year, led all Section 1 players in the lower Hudson Valley with 15 assists and nine goals for the State champs. Harvey, named one the best eleven in the State, will be heading off to Hamilton College.
Savage had this to say about his standouts. “Maddy is a two-year captain and four-year member of the team. This year she showcased all her incredible talents, controlling the midfield play. Maddy was able to make our defense stronger while helping Rye’s attack.
“Whenever there was a key play to be made, Maddy made it. In our last game of the season, she scored the only goal of the game against Pearl River, one that totally changed the trajectory of Rye’s playoff push for a sectional title. In the Sectional Finals, Maddy created a goal by stealing the ball at midfield, bringing it up, and passing it perfectly to her teammate Paige Vanneck to put away.
“In our State Final, Maddy headed the ball perfectly into the corner of the goal off a corner from Lyla Keenan. She is a positive leader who brings the best out of everybody around her. She is definitely deserving of the New York State Player of the Year Award.”
Of Walsh’s fellow first-teamer, he said, “Isabel is an incredible athlete. She has the ability to play multiple positions, but her best is on the front line. Isabel is incredible at playing with her back to the goal, and holding up play so her teammates can catch up and start the attack. She is outstanding at being able to turn and start the attack as well. She’s a deadly weapon from far out and also close-range, scoring multiple goals.
“She had our first goal in the Sectional Finals versus Albertus Magnus by following up a shot and perfectly placing it in the lower left corner of the goal. In our Regional Final, against Our Lady of Lourdes, she scored two goals from 30 yards out. What’s more, she can drop to the back line and help strengthen our defense. She’s been an outstanding leader and member of the team.”
Walsh also had high praise for her fellow captain and classmate. “Isabel definitely deserves the honor. She was a very consistent and reliable player, scoring goals, helping keep possession, and tracking back to defend often. She is super versatile and can play all over the field. Her hard work and grit helped us throughout the season.”
Harvey returned the compliment, saying, “I have known and played with Maddy for many years. Ever since we were little, she has always been the hardest worker on the field. She will chase and outwork opponents in order to get the ball back. She is also a natural leader in everything she does. Maddy is an incredible soccer teammate, but an even better person and friend.”
As for their coach, the players were united. “Throughout my four years on varsity, Coach Savage has created a close-knit team with a supportive culture,” Walsh said. “He made many coaching decisions over the season that brought us our final victory. He deserves as much, if not more, credit as the players.”
Harvey echoed her co-captain’s thoughts. “Coach Savage does his research and comes up with incredible strategies in order to beat tough opponents. He also listens to suggestions from everyone on our team in hopes of reaching common goals. Coach Savage makes everyone feel as though their voice is heard.
“He also prioritizes things that other coaches don’t pay attention to, like developing team chemistry. This year, he organized our trip to Syracuse. We played soccer games and did things like going to the New York State fair as a team. Rye Girls’ Soccer competes for each other. We want to win for one another.”
The coach was typically self-effacing. “I am truly honored to be recognized. However, it’s just a reflection of an unbelievably talented team who worked hard the entire season and off-season to have such a successful year. The girls continued to improve because of their work ethic and outstanding attitude. They brought the level of play up of everyone around them. Any recognition I receive is on behalf of the entire team.”