Rye Country Day School has been home to an astounding run of success in recent years, and it appears the plot of the story won’t be changing any time soon.
Whoever said death and taxes are the only certainties in life has clearly never watched the Rye Country Day field hockey team. The perennial contenders won their second NYSAIS championship in three years last November by defeating Riverdale 1-0. It was the Wildcats’ fourth straight appearance in the State finals, and head coach Georgette Summers’ squad is already preparing for a fifth visit.
“We will miss the graduating seniors, their spirit and experience, but the energy and focus on the field has not changed,” said Summers. “The girls came back ready to work. Our seniors will continue the legacy of hard work and commitment, and I believe they can fill the void.”
Amanda Shulman and Christine Cunningham take over as captains, and will be joined as leaders by fellow seniors Allie Farber, Jess Hanway, Lauren Schumaker, and Kate Moelis.
“We have a very small, but extremely solid and skilled group of seniors,” said Summers. “Farber will be a critical part of our defense this year, and Hanway will be on the forward line. We’ve seen tremendous improvement in her skills and I think she’ll be putting a lot of goals on the scoreboard for us.”
Rye Country Day’s first game is September 16 at home against rival Holy Child.
The Wildcats graduated 18 players from a very talented senior class in June, but head coach John Calandros is upbeat about the direction of the program. Although the varsity team only finished 5-4, the JV squad – playing a full schedule for the first time – went 7-0.
“I’m excited about our team this year,” said Calandros, who enters his fourth season at the helm. “There are still a lot of positions up for grabs, but if we play as a team we could have a good season. I’m very encouraged by the kids coming up from that undefeated JV team.”
Calandros singled out seniors Jake Heller, Jaime Mazur, and Owen Gray as three impact players. Heller is a three-year starter who plays tailback and defensive end and was named All-Conference last season. Mazur is the center and a linebacker, in which position he recorded 80 tackles in 2009. Gray is a two-year starter, and plays both tackle and defensive end. The head coach also said to keep an eye on juniors Sam Stern and Chaibuze Nwakeze. Stern was brought up to varsity last year after beginning the season on JV. He scored five touchdowns in two games thanks to blinding 4.5-second speed in the 40. Nwakeze, the younger brother of Yale’s Obinna, benches nearly double his 175-pound weight and will use that raw power as an offensive guard.
“I love coaching such great kids,” said Calandros. “They’re so talented and they only continue to work hard in their quest to get better. Wins and losses come within a season, but as long as we see effort it’s an enjoyable experience.”
The season kicks off September 25 at Long Island Lutheran.
In a rebound year, the Wildcats posted a 6-6-2 record in 2009, which had them tied for second place in the Fairchester Athletic Association. Rye Country Day’s season was strong enough to earn an invite to the New England Prep School tournament, one of the team’s preseason goals.
The Wildcats return four seniors who will have to provide strong leadership for the young team. With senior captains Isabel Kurzner and Jenna Frank leading the way, head coach Dick Pike hopes to not only return to the New England tournament, but also be invited to the NYSAIS tournament.
Rye Country Day’s season began September 2 against Marymount, but the two games the Wildcats have circled are against rivals St. Luke’s and Greenwich Academy.
Despite introducing 15 players to the varsity program in 2009, the Wildcats – under the direction of head coach Cristiano Pereira – returned to the FAA title game for a fourth consecutive year. Although they relinquished their championship to top-seeded St. Luke’s, the impressive run set the stage for what could be a golden finish this season.
“Our goal is to be right back there,” said Pereira. “We have the experience from last year and I think that can take us a long way. We look great on paper, and if we can duplicate that on the pitch we’re going to be just as good as in years past.”
Seniors Taylor Washington and Marco Prouve were tabbed as captains, and will provide the Wildcats with more than exceptional talent. Over the summer Washington was named MVP at the Manchester City/ESPN RISE Showcase at Adelphi University. Both players were part of the 2008 FAA championship team, and want to finish their RCDS soccer careers on top.
The Wildcats are also eligible to compete in the NYSAIS tournament for the first time, and Pereira is looking forward to the challenge.
“We don’t have a lot of outstanding players, but we have some incredible athletes and we’re going to be one of the toughest teams,” said the coach.
Shayne Bingham, Michael Walsh, Matt Stevens, Ian Teklin, Ian Baine, Alex Gendelman, Darren Douglas, Tommy Garry, Ignacio De Lara, and Brenton Howland will all be producers for the team, according to both Pereira and Washington, providing the Wildcats a deep supporting cast.
Rye Country Day’s first regular season game is September 15 at home against King.
The Wildcats look to improve from a 4-4 2009 season as they blend a strong core of veterans with young talent. Head coach Gary Solem said he wants both the new and returning players to learn as much as possible from each other. Chuckie Pollinger and Hadley Chu are Rye Country Day’s captains, but a No. 1 singles player has yet to be determined.
RCDS volleys into action at home September 15 versus Ply Prep.
Coming off of a strong season in an even stronger league, the Wildcats are looking to race among the best yet again. Head coach Ethan White has RCDS running very high mileage along with interval workouts and hills to prepare the team for the season. Senior captains Anders Mikkelson and Brandyn Dougan will lead the boys’ team; senior captains Liz Manus and Becy DeLeon for the girls’. The Wildcats return eight seniors in all, and hope to get back on the fast track they finished last season on.
“We want to compete for the FAA championship,” said White. “We have a very strong core of varsity runners on both squads.” In addition, White is pleased with the class of incoming freshmen.
The Wildcats begin their season with a home race at the Edith Read Sanctuary September 22.