Rye Country Day Fall Sports Preview

The hunger for success is fierce at Rye Country Day, and each of the school’s six fall season teams has the talent to transform that appetite into postseason glory.

Football

In a sport where experience is the name of the game, Rye Country Day went to battle with just four seniors in 2008 and finished 4-5. But head coach John Calandros believes the program will reap benefits from that trial by fire now.

Senior quarterback Joe Barber

Senior quarterback Joe Barber

“This season really started with the juniors last year,” said Calandros. “A lot of them gained their first varsity experience then, and their maturity, confidence, and knowledge are far superior now than they were this time last year.”

The Wildcats boast a senior class of 17, and the players dedicated themselves to off-season workouts with an emphasis on lifting and running. Seniors Chris Seter, starting inside linebacker and halfback, and Brian Glazewski, halfback and strong safety, are the captains. Senior quarterback Joe Barber is another standout, and Nwakeze Obinna — clocking in at 6 feet 2 inches and 245 pounds — will intimidate from his nose guard and defensive tackle positions.

Opening kickoff is September 12, at home against Trinity Catholic.

Field Hockey

If the past is any indicator, Rye Country Day could finish the season as NYSAIS State champions. The Wildcats won the title in 2007 after losing a heartbreaker to Holy Child in the State final a season earlier. Last year, the Gryphons paid back top-ranked RCDS (14-3-1) in the title game to once more snatch away the State championship. The stage is set for Rye Country Day to take their turn.

The Wildcats hope to get back to the peak of the mountain

The Wildcats hope to get back to the peak of the mountain

“I still have a hard time thinking or talking about that final game,” said head coach Georgette Summers. “We, the coaches and kids, want to put it behind us, move on, work hard, and bring home the title. Our current seniors were part of that 2007 championship team and they want it and will work for it again.”

If the Wildcats are to make it back to the big game for a fourth consecutive year, they’ll lean on their six seniors, and, in particular, captains Isabel Beshar and Hannah Lowentheil. The other four seniors — Katie Sandling, Nealy Nimocks, Jane Ostrau, and Janelle McDermoth — will be aided by rising junior star Christine Cunningham.

Rye Country Day’s season begins September 17 at … where else but Holy Child.

Boys’ Soccer

The Wildcats were a physical force in 2008, deploying 13 seniors – including nine above the 6-foot mark – to overpower competition en route to a second FAA championship in three years. Rye Country Day will look vastly different this season. Just don’t be fooled into thinking the goal is not the same.

“This is my fourth year here, and we want to win back-to-back titles for the first time,” said head coach Cristiano Pereira, whose Wildcats have made it to the FAA final each year under his tutelage. “We have a young group and they are certainly not as big as last year, but we make up for it with very technical and quick players. We’re going to take advantage of our abilities.”

SPORTS-Denzeyl MorrisThe captains are seniors Cole Klineberg, Pranav Seghal, and Denzeyl Morris, a fourth-year starter who was third on the team in goals scored last season. Andrew Shapiro is another senior. He served as backup goaltender in 2008, and looks forward to the challenge of starting this year. The seniors will be assisted by two-time All-League player Taylor Washington, a gifted junior.

Girls’ Soccer

Although 2008 was a down year for Rye Country Day, optimism is being served as the main course on this season’s Wildcat menu. The team is focused on playing themselves into the FAA tournament and earning a bid to the NYSAIS tournament. Both would be satisfying postseason desserts, the perfect remedy to the indigestion of their 6-8-1 finish in 2008.

Head coach Dick Pike is pinning his hopes to what he says is a nice mix of veterans and younger players. Captains Nicki Rosenbach, a midfielder, and sweeper Alex Sabatini are at the forefront of a class of nine seniors. The coach likes his group of leaders, and wants them to provide direction for the team’s sophomores and freshmen.

“It’s going to be an interesting season,” said Pike. “Over the years we’ve had a very strong program and this year’s team is capable of getting us back to where we should be.”

Rye Country Day hits the field September 16, at Hamden Hall.

Girls’ Tennis

With 10 returning seniors, including captains Melinda Roy and Caroline Stoupniztky, head coach Gary Solem said the goal is to get the Wildcats performing like a well-oiled machine quickly.

Rye Country Day finished 4-4 in 2008, and will quickly be tested by rival Hackley September 9 (post press time) in the season-opening tilt. Solem said this meeting will allow the team to know where they stand right off the bat.

Cross-Country

If all goes according to plan, Ethan White will have his Wildcats performing among the best of the FAA all season, and peaking during the final weeks leading to the league championship.

White will have his charges run fairly heavy mileage to begin the season, but as September turns to October the team will decrease the distance and replace it with speed work to keep their legs feeling fresh and quick for the important races.
The team captains for the boys are Patrick Manus and Adam Colombo. Charlotte Wilson is the sole captain on the girls’ side. In addition to upper leadership, White noted that junior Paul Fanto has been a league star for two consecutive years, and he expects him to continue on that same path.

For the first time in years, Rye Country Day held their first “home” race at Edith Read Sanctuary. It went so well that the Wildcats are planning to hold two more “home” races there this fall, September 23 and October 7.

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