New Beginnings and One Farewell for Rye’s Spring Sports

Spring is a time for new beginnings, but the season began on a somber note for the Garnet family. Maureen O’Shea, the 56-year-old coach of the girls’ lacrosse team, passed away March 13 after a battle with cancer.

Girls’ Lacrosse Team Dedicates Season to Memory of Coach O’Shea

In only three years as head coach of the Garnets, Maureen O’Shea was able to leave a lasting legacy.

“The first person that comes to mind when you think of girls’ lacrosse is coach O’Shea,” said Rob Castagna, Rye’s Director of Athletics. “Maureen was here for a short time, but made a tremendous impact on the program. The kids right away felt her passion for lacrosse, which was strongly matched by her knowledge of the game. She was an ambassador and advocate for it everywhere she went.”

Rye huddles up in what was their last game under the guidance of O'Shea

Castagna continued, “She saw the kids for everything they brought to the table. If one of her student-athletes had a high GPA, she knew about it and would put her up for an academic award. It was good to see her go out of the way to get girls recognized for the accolades they deserved.”

O’Shea – a 1971 Rye graduate – coached her alma mater to two Section finals. Each time the Garnets had the crown within their grasp, but came up impossibly short. In 2007, they fell 13-12 to Nanuet in sudden-death double overtime.

“Without the sudden death rule we would have gone back to the true origins of lacrosse, where there was a warrior mentality and you played until there was only one player left standing,” said O’Shea at the time. “The game just kept on going. It was phenomenal. The girls played until the final whistle. They gave all they had to give.”

Last year the girls dropped a 16-15 triple overtime heartbreaker to Nyack in the championship game. The Garnets should look back with pride, however, as their effort embodied the “lax warrior” spirit of O’Shea in what was her final game as their head coach. Trailing 11-5 early in the second half, the Garnets scored six unanswered goals to tie the game and treated those in attendance to an all-time lacrosse classic on a sun-kissed day.

Taking over the head coaching reigns is Lisa Zweigenhaft, a recent graduate of Wesleyan University. Zweigenhaft began her lacrosse career on Long Island, and went on to become a starting defender and captain at Wesleyan. She has coached clinics and summer camps, and inherits a Rye team poised for great things this season.

Lisa Zweigenhaft

“It is an honor to take over Coach O’Shea’s program,” said Zweigenhaft. “She has given so much to Rye Lacrosse and I have very big shoes to fill.”

The Garnets will be led on the field by senior captains Molly O’Brien, Emma Tucci and Lauren McRedmond. Tucci, the graceful southpaw, and O’Brien, an unstoppable force around the goal, are the team’s gifted scorers. McRedmond was part of a stingy defensive unit last year.

“The girls are excited to get out there and start winning,” said Zweigenhaft, whose team begins play at home April 7 against Walter Panas. “They are going to play every game for Coach O’Shea – they want to make her proud. It is my personal goal to coach the girls to victory and provide them with whatever they need to win big.”

You can read more about O’Shea’s life in the Obituaries section of this issue.

Boys’ Lacrosse

If something feels a little bit off about the upcoming season, it’s that, for the first time since 2005, the Garnets won’t be defending their Section crown. Rye’s run of four consecutive championships came to an end last year in the Section final when they were defeated 10-7 by Putnam Valley.

That loss also signaled the end of an era, as the Garnets graduated a cavalcade of seniors from a 12-7 team that won 10 of their last 11 games entering the Section championship. A handful of proud veterans are left though, including four-year starting middie Cole McCormack and goalie Michael Linehan. Both seniors take over captain duties, and head coach Brian Dooley said Rye would soon be adding a third.

Michael Collins and Mike Linehan

What the team lacks in seniors they make up for with a talented junior class. Jack O’Callaghan, Matt McReddie, Christian Bonaventura, Briggs Barton and Max Bonsall should all be impact players for the Garnets. Dooley also said to watch out for rising sophomore Greg Stern.

“We are young, so we would like to get better every game and play competitively within our challenging schedule,” said Dooley.

The season begins March 30 at Brewster.

Baseball

The Garnets come off a .500 season that ended with a 12-9 loss to Beacon in the first round of the Section playoffs. Graduating 12 seniors, head coach Mike Bruno is cognizant that some rebuilding will need to take place.

“Lack of experience may be an issue, but on the bright side the players are hard-working and team-oriented,” said the coach. Case in point: for the first three weeks of the season Rye has taken batting practice every morning from 6:30-7:30 a.m., and then they reconvene in the afternoon for two hours of fielding and conditioning.

Paul Mundinger and Ryan Breslin

If their first scrimmage is any indication, the dedication is paying off. Even without senior captain Paul Mundinger, the Garnets pulled off an unexpected 6-5 victory over Stepinac.

“The team looked good, especially the defense,” said senior captain Ryan Breslin. “We only had one error. Last year, errors were our downfall.”

Both captains said they are looking forward to a successful year because – in addition to the improved defense – they are fundamentally sound and have a bevy of young talent. Pitching is a bright spot, headlined by senior ace Chris Fumasoli who will attend Roger Williams on a scholarship in the fall.

First pitch is April 13 versus Fox Lane.

Softball

Veteran leadership is the reason for the optimism that currently surrounds the Garnets. Four of Rye’s seniors have been with the team since their freshman year, including co-captains Karly FitzGerald and Samantha Lee, and Killian Harris and Amy Shanks.

“They’ve been influential in turning the Rye softball program around and deserve special recognition,” said head coach Alex Tejera. FitzGerald, Lee and Harris are all four-year starters, and Shanks has started for the past three seasons. Rye’s other seniors, Lizzy Neeves and Christa Tripodi, have been on varsity since they were sophomores.

Sammie Lee and Karly FitzGerald

The Garnets were eliminated in the first round of the 2009 Section playoffs and finished the season 7-9. Mixed in with the veterans this year will be some new freshman and sophomore faces, including Erica Becker, Catherine Livingston, Emily Severance, Kristen Verille, Courtney Turiano, Nicole Alimena, Brigid Lonergan and Meghan Gormley.

“The team is looking good,” said FitzGerald. “We return our entire starting infield except the pitcher, but have three new pitchers who are working with the staff every day. Both our defense and offense are very strong and I know we can make it to Sectionals once again.”

Rye’s season begins April 7 on the road at Pleasantville.

Track and Field

Jim Yedowitz isn’t being hyperbolic when he says his boys’ track team should be one of the best he’s ever coached. The Garnets are loaded with talented, experienced seniors like distance runners Max Robinson and Mason Curtis, middle distance runners Mac Gager and Matt Kao, and athletes such as Dan Forsman, Tim Lonergan, Kian Gormley and Tom Jackson in the field event group.

“My goals are simple,” said Yedowitz. “Win everything in sight, especially the League and Class B championship. We also want to place in the top three at the Westchester County meet, and qualifying for the State meet would be the icing on the cake.”

Mac Gager

It’s not just the seniors that make Rye tick. Sophomores Taylor Love, Tom Mayo-Smith, Dave Mangum and Thornton Ellis are the future of the Garnets, but also ready and capable of being varsity scorers this season.

Like the boys’ team, Jim McGee’s girls’ track squad boasts over 60 athletes, including a strong senior class and up-and-coming sophomore group. McGee also wants his team to capture the League title after finishing second in 2009.

Distance runners Ellie Friedmann, Jordan Delane , Ali Mackay and Lizzy Bennett will build upon their winter success, and Alex Springer – a senior triple jumper and 400 hurdles participant – returns for the spring as well. Junior Lindsey Clark and freshman Audrey Love are two of Rye’s best, and seniors Torie Stearns, Amanda Owens and Rebecca Walsh are hoping to end their Garnet careers with a bang.

The Garnets season commences April 6 at Westlake.

Boys’ Tennis

The Garnets are in rebuilding mode after graduating seven seniors, including Kelly Morque and Garrett DeBease. Head coach Sue Dickson says she has many spots to fill on the roster, but the goals are to play well and qualify as many players as possible for Divisional and Sectional competition.

“We have some solid and positive players who will contribute the best they can and support each other,” said head coach Sue Dickson. “They will represent Rye well.”

Juniors Keishi Goto and Buck Reynolds will fill the void at first and second singles, and returning seniors Ben Billingsley, Gunther Kempin and Peter DeBartolo figure to play key roles. Juniors Jun Tsuboike and Alfredo Holguin are also being counted on, and sophomore Phil Dorn and freshmen Grant DeBease, Will Friedman and Harry Bonay comprise the next generation of Garnets.

Rye’s first match is April 7 at home against a non-region opponent, and then they square off with rival Harrison on the road April 8.

Boys’ Golf

The Garnets managed to post a solid 10-4 record in 2009 despite a move up in leagues that spelled the end of their 13-year run of championships. With only a handful of returning starters on a very young team, head coach Pat Romano will look to his captains – Andrew Gladstone, Colin Leslie and Jack Kelleher – to carry on the Rye tradition.

“The goals this year are the usual ones,” said Romano. “We want to compete, win the league and advance as many golfers as possible to the Sectionals and State championships. Players with little match experience will have to step up and perform for us. We don’t have the depth of past teams, so we’re looking for kids to capture the opportunity.”

Romano feels Gladstone, a sophomore, is primed for a standout season, and also said to watch out for newcomers Jabril Whiteside and Thomas Henderson.

Girls’ Golf

After an inaugural 4-8 campaign, it’s safe to say Rich Savage’s Garnets arrived in their second year of existence as a varsity sport. Rye compiled an 8-4 record, finished second in their league and sent five players to Sectionals and two to the State tournament.

The team graduated Julia Fiala, their backbone since the beginning, but returns sophomore Jenn Lee – who went to States with Fiala – and juniors Julia Pasqualini and Nancy Kelleher. Savage expects Pasqualini and Kelleher, the team captains, to lead the team in its quest for a league championship.

“Our golf team is very energetic and supportive of both team and individual goals,” said Savage. “We’re excited about a new season; girls’ golf seems to be growing in popularity.”

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