With all four of their varsity teams looking like contenders, the autumn season may be a special one at School of the Holy Child.
Heading into the 2008 season, Holy Child head coach Barbara Lorys didn’t know what to expect from her team. The Gryphons had just graduated a laundry list of standout players who were part of the program’s transformation from also-ran into perennial contender.
As it turned out, Holy Child streaked to their second NYSAIS State championship in three years. The third-seeded team defeated No. 1 Rye Country Day in thrilling fashion, eking out a 2-1 win after a round of penalty strokes.
Enter the 2009 season, and – once again – Lorys isn’t sure what to think of her Gryphons.
“It’s going to be a totally different year because we’ve graduated the girls who contributed to all three finals appearances and the two championships,” said Lorys. “We’ve lost some strong players, but we didn’t expect much last year and look at what happened. The girls step up when they need to and I think that’s what will happen this year.”
Filling the void left by the graduation of nearly 10 seniors are new captains Megan McLaughlin and Katie Amodio. Lorys is already impressed with how the seniors have embraced leadership roles and organized teammates. Another pivotal player in Holy Child’s quest for a third State title in four years is senior goalkeeper Kerrigan Henderson. She was new to the job in 2008, but played incredibly down the stretch and was unflappable in the championship game.
If the Gryphons are intent on another championship, they’ll likely encounter local rival Rye Country Day along the way. The two Fairchester Athletic Association teams have met for the State title three consecutive times now, and are set for a regular season tangle September 17 at Holy Child.
Holy Child opens the season September 14, at home against Brearley School.
Holy Child’s soccer program turned the corner in 2008. The team proved their mettle by earning a playoff bid for just the third time in the last decade. Although the young squad was ousted in the quarterfinals of the FAA tournament, head coach Shawn Simone understood the loss was a beginning and not an end.
“I think we are going to be even better this year,” said Simone of his Gryphons, who finished 7-8-3 despite a 1-5-1 start. “We’ve got about seven starters coming back and another three or four that consistently contributed off the bench. There is no doubt we’ll be improved.”
Two of those returnees are seniors Molly Schauber, the goalkeeper, and forward Morrin Carlin. Holy Child’s defense was stout in ’08 thanks to stellar play in the net from Schauber, and Carlin was a ringleader on an opportunistic offense. Simone expects Carlin to pinpoint the attack and set up goals for teammates like junior Charlotte Knobloch, who the coach says is “raring to go”. Senior Andrea Arnone is another player to keep an eye on.
The Gryphons kick off September 16, at home against Riverdale Country Day.
New head coach Taneisha Cantave has been handed the keys to a volleyball squad that finished 3rd in the FAA last season and made a run to the semifinals of the league tournament. She’ll be steering a Gryphons’ team with nine returning players, including senior All-League Honorable Mentions Chidera Amilo – a middle hitter – and Eileen Beck, an outside hitter, and junior defensive specialist Gianna LaSalla, another 2008 All-League Honorable Mention.
“I’m excited and very enthusiastic about the opportunity,” said Cantave, an All-League, All-County, All-Section player at Suffern, who also played two years of college ball at Sacred Heart before a hamstring injury. “I met a few of the girls at preseason camp and saw that there was room for improvement, which is a very good thing. I’m going to come in with an open mind and start from fundamentals.”
Holy Child will also get contributions from seniors Leslie Barnard (outside hitter) and Hilary Price (middle blocker), sophomore libero Danielle Riverso, as well as Stephanie Taylor, a 6-foot, 3-inch junior who missed the 2008 season with mono.
The Gryphons’ first serve takes place September 15, on the road at Brearley School.
It doesn’t take long for Declan Foley’s excitement to bubble over when talking about his cross country team.
“We’re poised to field one of our best squads in recent years,” said the head coach, whose harriers begin their FAA season September 23 at Brunswick School.
The enthusiasm for this year is keyed by the return of three seniors. Kirsten Hantho, Katelyn Racanelli, and Rachel O’Driscoll – the 2007 FAA league champion who missed the ’08 season while studying abroad – are the core of the 2009 Gryphons. In addition, sophomore transfer Kendra McNulty is another student Foley believes will headline the 15-member team.
Circled on Holy Child’s calendar are the Manhattan College Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park October 10, and both the FAA championship meet at Waveny Park and the NYSAIS championship run at Van Cortlandt Park. Those events take place in early November.