Rye Neck Fall Sports Preview

There is no hanging on to past achievements or disappointments at Rye Neck High School. It’s a brand new day for each program, and every Panther is ready to put their best foot forward.

Football

The Panthers finished the 2008 campaign 7-2, but records are secondary to head coach Nick Ianello’s annual focus at Rye Neck. “Our goal is to have fun,” said the coach, who is a former Black Hat player. “Success will come with the process of our effort and commitment. We attain that with leadership classes where we set team and individual goals and bond as a family.”

Senior captain Matt Pinto

Senior captain Matt Pinto

Leading the Panthers on the field this season are six senior captains. Frank Pisco, Matt Pinto, and Chris Mantis are talented tailbacks who provide a change of pace with their versatility. Tight end/defensive end Andrew Spinelli and lineman Mike McCarty will bring size and strength, and Shane O’Shea provides toughness.
Rye Neck opens the season at home September 12, against Dobbs Ferry.

Field Hockey

In her first season as head coach at Rye Neck, Nicole Berman’s Panthers exceeded their own expectations by finishing 6-7-6 with an appearance in the 2008 Class C Section semifinals. They nearly rode the wave to the final, but – after two periods of overtime – lost in strokes to North Salem.

“I’d like for them to remember what success feels like,” said the coach, whose ultimate goal is for her players to love the sport. “They realize it’s a lot of work, but now that they understand what I expect of them they know what to bring to the field.”

Berman has named three returning seniors and a junior as team captains. Forwards Liz Pon, Emily Morningstar and Kaila Pederson and defender Clarissa Devito are all hard-working students of the game.

The Panthers host Somers September 14, at home.

Boys’ Soccer

Rye Neck reset the bar for its soccer program in 2008, when its senior-laden squad stormed to a 13-6-1 record and the Class C Section final. Eight seniors graduated from that runner-up squad however, and co-head coaches Bryan Iacovelli and Frank Gizzo want the Panthers to turn the page.

“We don’t want to get too distracted by last year. It’s over,” said Iacovelli. “Our expectations are to get better game by game. This is my fourth season coaching here, and we’ve already come a long way in bringing back pride to a once dominant program. The kids know what we expect and have even loftier goals for themselves.”

The Panthers are bolstered by eight seniors, including captains Adam Gourchane, Philipe Adam, Adam Guitterez, Luis Ruigomez, Jeff Karell, and Matt Baretto. Mike Goncalves and Daisuke Takai round out the upperclassmen. The team will also benefit from the return of sophomore Ivan Martinez, the 2008 leading scorer.

The team heads to Valhalla September 11.

Girls’ Soccer

With the departure of seven seniors, Rye Neck lost most of the contributors to its wildly successful run over the past three seasons.

Standout goaltender and senior captain Jessica Wright

Standout goaltender and senior captain Jessica Wright

Fortunately, one holdover is senior goaltender Jessica Wright, who allowed just eight goals in 2008. She’s joined by fellow captains Samantha Amatuzzo and Georgia Richardson. Amatuzzo scored 10 of Rye Neck’s 95 goals last season, and led the team with 23 assists. Also returning are seniors Rebecca Rubin, Christina Ball, and Diane Kort.

“We have a new and very young team,” said assistant coach Karen Fongecchio. “Doug Choron, our head coach, is excited and impressed by a lot of the girls, though. It looks to be a promising season and we expect a lot of wins. Without a JV team, we’ve taken on a lot of younger students.”

One of those younger players is freshman Petra Stastney, an outside defender who is opening eyes. Junior midfielder Marie Hasse is another very good player.
Rye Neck hits the road September 11 for a contest with Dobbs Ferry.

Girls’ Tennis

For the third time in three years, the Panthers will compete in a new league when their season opens September 11, at home against Briarcliff.

“Two years ago we were in the lowest league and finished undefeated,” said head coach Mark Canno. “Then they moved us up last year and I figured we’d finish around .500, but we went 10-2. It will be tough to match that, but the girls don’t mind. They like the challenge.”

Harrison is one of the schools the Panthers will now have to compete against. To the benefit of Rye Neck, the program returns both their second and third singles, senior captains Midori Takasaki and Kalypso Buitoni, as well as the No. 1 doubles team of senior captain Kyra Babakian and sophomore Sage Reisner. Another star is senior Caroline Lambillote, a Belgian transfer from the French-American School of New York.

“At worst, Lambillote will be our No. 3 singles player,” said Canno. “She’s a huge pick-up.”

Volleyball

Head coach Kristen Desio doesn’t hesitate when she predicts what 2009 will be: a rebuilding year.

Even so, the Panthers have been working very hard this summer during 6:30 a.m. practices, and are prepared for new competition in an altered league. While the squad will still face rivals Blind Brook, Keio, Alexander Hamilton, and Valhalla, new members include Westlake, Pleasantville, and Briarcliff. Returnees Julia Bilotta, Dominique Falcone, Jackie Galeano, Giuliana De Angelis, and Nicole Maggio should ease the transition.

“This season is definitely going to be a challenge, but the girls and I are very excited about getting started,” said Desio.

Rye Neck invades Byram Hills September 11.

Cross-Country

A perfect storm for success is brewing over Rye Neck. The boys’ team is the largest in decades, and the girls are primed to add to last year’s success.

“We want to win more meets, improve upon 5K personal records, and work to create a larger front pack,” said head coach Julia Gillis. “In order to prepare for our more rigorous schedule, we’ve taken a few trips to the Rockefeller Trails in Tarrytown and are increasing the distance and intensity of workouts.”

At the front of the Panthers’ pack are captains Kylie VanBuren, a junior, and Caroline Kebbe, a senior. Junior Sebastian Tanner is the boys’ captain, and he’ll be assisted by returning sophomores Lucas Bucknavage, Charlie Fraioli, and Chris Pinto.

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