Hungry Softball Program Spearheads Gryphons’ Season

Judging by the recent weather, one would assume spring sports are already underway. In fact, the season doesn’t begin until early April, when Holy Child rolls out a handful of programs with the potential to make school history.

Softball

The Gryphons seemed destined for the State championship in 2009, even with no seniors on the roster. When their season ended shockingly in the semifinals, the team adopted a take-no-prisoners mission for 2010.

“These girls have unfinished business to take care of,” said Jen Cirillo, Holy Child’s third head coach in three years. “We are all excited about this upcoming season. It’s ours if we work together.”

Chloe Giordano

Cirillo, who spent eight years as coach at New York City’s Nightingale Bamford, wants to pick up where the Gryphons left off. To reach the NYSAIS State final, she’ll look to senior captains Molly Schauber, GeriAnn Capasso and Alaina Cipollone. Cipollone is the team’s starting pitcher, and has been a devastating ace since her freshman year. She’ll be joined in the rotation by sophomore Kathleen Samuelson.

In their lineup, Holy Child will once again rely on slugging junior shortstop sensation Chloe Giordano. Giordano hit over .500 in 2009 and is capable of smashing any pitch over the fence.

“I’m excited about this group of girls. They have heart,” said Cirillo. “They’re experienced and have a whole lot of talent. It’s our job to get these girls to execute the little things correctly every day. If we can do that we will be on our way to the final game.”

First pitch is April 7 at Fieldston.

Lacrosse

The 2009 season was a special one for the Gryphons. They achieved their first winning record (8-7) in the lacrosse program’s history and won their first playoff game ever. Having graduated 90 percent of her offense, however, head coach Jess Spadafora understands the challenge ahead.

“We are all youth this season,” said the coach. “We have three seniors returning and lots of young and excited players ready to prove themselves and step up, which makes for very interesting and intense team dynamics.”

A group of upstart freshmen and sophomores – headlined by Helen Brosnan, Charlotte Elcock and Liz McCooey – are tabbed to fill the void on offense, but the Gryphons do return five of seven defensive starters, including the entire lower core. Seniors Tess DeRoy, Nell Davis and Max Pendergast, and juniors Julie Duignan and Mary Kate McErlean are charged with protecting the goalies and keeping the young squad in games.

Captains have not been chosen, but are likely to emerge in Florida where the team will train for a week prior to the season’s start April 7 at Fieldston.

“Our goal is simple this season – to build on the success of last year’s program,” said Spadafora. “We’ll continue to pursue excelling on stick work, clean and simple offense and being a tough and solid defensive unit. We want to develop a team chemistry of trust and lacrosse knowledge, and – of course – continue to have fun while being successful on the field.”

Golf

Senior captains Leslie Barnard and Morrin Carlin will lead by example for the Gryphons this year, providing the work ethic and enthusiasm necessary for a team that lost four players after an impressive 6-3 campaign. Barnard and Carlin are a duo that forces the opposition to earn their victories, because neither will beat themselves.

Morrin Carlin

Head coach Mike Duignan is hopeful his team improves as the year progresses, and that hard work on the practice range pays dividends in Fairchester Athletic Association competition. New talent includes junior Christina Bryde and sophomores Paige Kennedy, Maria Santangelo, Ava Szabatura, and Mary and Catherine Curtis.

“We have no star players, but we have a group of very good golfers who will work hard and improve,” said Duignan. “With our depth, we will be a tough out for our opponents.”

Holy Child hits the links for their first match April 8 at Sleepy Hollow Country Club versus Hackley.

Track & Field

Coming off an incredibly successful indoor track season in which Holy Child toppled 10 school records and made appearances at the Millrose Games, State championships and Nike Indoor Nationals, head coach Declan Foley senses a confidence that was not there in the past.

“I believe this feeling will continue to grow during the outdoor season as we set our sights on some pretty big goals,” he said.

Seniors Katelyn Racanelli and Rachel O’Driscoll, junior Brianna McLoughlin, and sophomores Isabelle Despins and Georgia Crane starred for the team in the winter, and should be backed by cast of up-and-coming speedsters this spring. Foley said Caitlin Hogan, Ellen Lautenbach, Kendra McNulty and Ashley Ravesloot have all looked very good right out of the gate.

Foley noted that team success is a byproduct of solid teamwork, and believes unity is the only way to attain their goals. He has the Gryphons focused on winning the Athletic Association of Independent Schools championship, qualifying two teams for the Penn Relays, and sending both individuals and relays to the New York State championships and New Balance Outdoor Championships.

“On paper we have a relatively deep team,” said Foley. “With consistent, well-focused training we should accomplish what we set out to achieve. We certainly have the talent, we just need to put our plans into action.”

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