Ever get in the way of a fireball? The answer for most is likely a big ol’ “negatory”, but that’s not the case for goaltenders who have had the misfortune of facing off against Annie VanWagenen and the Rye field hockey team.
VanWagenen put the Garnets up 3-0 less than five minutes into her team’s eventual 6-0 win at home against Byram Hills October 18. The junior star scored twice on short corners, the orange ball coming off her stick like a comet streaking across the starry sky.
“Annie has one of the hardest shots in the Section,” said head coach Emily Fitzgerald, whose team is now 44-4-2 under her guidance since 2008. “She was the primary shooter on the corner team for Hudson Valley in the Empire State Games, so that says something about where she ranks among the best in the Section.”
Rye’s corner team looked next to flawless against Byram Hills, a promising sign as the regular season winds down and Sectionals approach. Rye showed a variety of looks, and mesmerized the Bobcats with crisp, back-and-forth passing. The undefeated Garnets will need to execute similarly if they’re to escape the Class B bracket, home to Putnam Valley and Lakeland, the reigning State champions.
“I’m actually very pleased with the corners,” said Fitzgerald of a unit primarily featuring VanWagenen, G.G. Fitzgerald, Katie Killup, and Laurel Kennedy. “We’re working hard on them and the girls are really conscious of performing each the way we practice it.”
In the rout of Byram Hills, Emma Brinkman and Tori Virtue also scored a pair each, bringing their respective totals to a team-leading 18 and 15 goals. They’re part of a multi-pronged Garnet attack that has outscored opponents 51-4 this season. Fitzgerald noted that what makes this team special is the myriad ways they can attack goal. Whereas Torie Stearns was the go-to scorer in years past, the 2010 Rye model makes you pay for focusing solely on one offensive threat.
The goal scorers have filled stat sheets, but Kennedy is the unsung hero this season. The center defender excels at disrupting offenses, and is part of the reason Rye opponents have forced goaltender Kaitlin Campbell to make just 20 saves this season. In stark contrast, Garnet opponents are saving 14.5 shots per game.
“We play great defense and can’t control who we play in our league,” said Fitzgerald on whether it’s a concern that Rye hasn’t faced many shots. “That’s why I scheduled contests with Suffern, Mamaroneck, and Bronxville, so that we can approximate the top teams in our Class and prepare for whomever we might face in Sectionals. I think we’re going to be okay. The girls will be prepared and ready.”
The Garnets’ next contest is October 22 at Fox Lane. The regular season wraps October 25 versus Horace Greeley.