With apologies to Charles Dickens, the high school sports teams of just one city — Rye — experienced the highest highs and lowest lows you can have on the field of play this spring.
By Mitch Silver
With apologies to Charles Dickens, the high school sports teams of just one city — Rye — experienced the highest highs and lowest lows you can have on the field of play this spring. Rye High’s Lightweight Four with Coxswain rowed their way to a State Championship up at Saratoga Springs, swamping the nearest boat by over 18 seconds, while the reigning Section 1 Class B softball champs from Rye Neck went down to a stunning first-round playoff defeat at the hands of 15th-seeded Albertus Magnus, 8-6. Go figure.
In between, there were enough nail-biting wins and heartbreaking losses to, well, fill a sports story. Consider the Rye Country Day Boys’ Lacrosse team. After leaving their Fairchester Athletic Association rivals in pieces on the ground during the regular season — and polishing off their closest competitors, St. Luke’s, in the FAA title game — the Wildcats looked ready to do the same on the New York side of the ledger. After a rousing 10-8 victory over Riverdale at home in the New York State Association of Independent Schools playoffs, the boys in blue took a 6-4 lead over Hackley on the strength of two Justin Weissman second-quarter goals. Alas, a second crown was not to be: Hackley rallied to take the title by 12-9.
While Rye Neck did not advance in the Class C lacrosse playoffs, middie Conor Leydon earned All-League honors for the Panthers. On the girls’ side, Lourdes took the measure of Rye Neck in the playoffs by 10-8.
On a brighter note, Coach Shawn Lincoln’s Rye Neck Boys’ Tennis team earned their second straight league crown, winning 10 matches. Senior Tom Collins and sophomore Ryan Francavilla paired up to win their first Conference Three tournament match, defeating a duo from Irvington, 6-3, 6-2, and becoming the school’s first doubles team in seven years to make it to the round of 16. They then lost to the No. 3 pair from Blind Brook.
In the singles, sophomore Eikoh Hayashi shut down Jordon Sholder from Solomon Schecter, 6-0, 6-0. He then beat Uto Takei from Keio 6-1, 6-2 in the quarters before topping Bronxville’s Robby Simon in the semifinals, 4-6, 6-2, 13-11. In the finals, Eikoh lost to Janoskar Kjelberg of Edgemont in a competitive final tiebreaker, 6-4, 6-7(5-7), 10-5.
The Garnets sent three doubles teams into the Conference Two Tournament. Coach Sue Dickson’s top in-season pair lost in the first round to a team from Byram Hills. Garnet captains Mihir Bala and Tommy O’Brien teamed up to beat Kevin Perez and Brett Rubenstein from Clarkstown South before losing to Scarsdale’s Harison Peltz and Evan Josephs, 6-4, 6-3.
Shane Killian and Alex Tretiak easily defeated Fink/Klugman from Byram Hills, 6-2, 6-1. They would lose their third-round match to the No. 2 seeds, Tucker Martino and Akshat Sanghavi from Harrison, 6-4, 6-4. The loss dropped them into the back draw where they fell to another Harrison pairing, Dugoff/Lubowitz, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, (10-6), in the super tiebreaker.
Rye Country Day tennis coach Jenny Smith’s Wildcat boys beat Hamden Hall 6-1 to wind up the FAA season with a 5 and 2 record. In the playoffs, Tyler Carney and Ryan Glanville of Brunswick defeated her Jacks — Alpert and Miller — to take the doubles crown.
Our area’s high school golfers had a strong season everywhere you looked. Rye Neck’s boys won their league championship, as did the Garnets in theirs. Rye Country Day’s team struggled to reach the .500 mark during the Fairchester season, and finished 5th behind St. Luke’s in the FAA post-season tournament. But they got hot during NYSAIS play and came in second. Charles Jolly shot a 78 and qualified for New York State Federation play.
Our national pastime was another source of local pride this spring. Though Rye High didn’t advance to the State Final Four or the State Regionals as the 2014 and 2015 editions of Coach Mike Bruno’s had, they won more than their share of big games, including a 2-0 shutout of nemesis Byram Hills hurled by Elon-bound Garnet star George Kirby. In the playoffs, the 5th-seeded Garnets beat Beacon 2-0 before ending their season with an 8-2 loss at Tappan Zee.
Overall, catcher Chase Pratt batted an astounding .396, scoring 13 times and driving in 16. What’s more, he stole all seven bases he tried for, though Rye’s King of Steals was Aidan Lavelle, with a perfect 14 for 14. Kirby finished the season with an unblemished 6-0 record, striking out 73 batters in 43.1 innings while sporting a microscopic 0.32 ERA.
Rye Neck’s season produced more losses (12) than wins (9), but hitting wasn’t the problem. Senior shortstop Ben Weinstock batted .361 for the spring, fellow senior Chris Colangelo was right behind him at .350, and sophomore Jack Sheldon was also over the .300 mark at .304. On the hill, junior Christian Cefaloni was a lights-out 7-1 for the season, striking out 37 while walking only seven.
Rye Country Day had an up-and-down year, finishing 7-7 in the FAA. They opened the playoffs by thumping St. Luke’s by 11-1 before falling to Hamden Hall in the FA semis by 4-3. It was a similar story in the NYSAIS tournament. The No. 2-seeded Wildcats shut out Berkeley-Carroll 5-0 in the opener before easing past #3 Riverdale by 8-1. Poly Prep of Brooklyn was another story: the top seeds hung an 8-1 defeat on the locals in the finale played at Manhattanville College.
Junior Enzo Stefanoni was once again the workhorse for the Wildcats on the mound, compiling an 8-3 record with 90 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 71.2 innings. Those wins pushed his career total to a whopping 32, nudging him into New York State’s all-time Top 10 list and threatening the record of 39 with a season to go.