Rye Neck Girls’ Soccer

By Mitch Silver

Last weekend, Rye Neck held its annual Homecoming Gala, a two-day orgy of sports and more sports played in front of the hometown fans. Fueled by free eats served up by volunteer parents on the school’s outdoor basketball courts, the crowd Saturday morning saw the Panthers’ field hockey squad edge Edgemont by a 1-0 score. Then they simply moved one field over and settled in to watch Head Coach Amy Bushnell’s girls host the Hendrick Hudson Soccer team.

The first half was all-even on the field, and on the scoreboard. Senior Sophia Wice, last year’s high scorer, opened the Panthers’ account just four minutes into the game by heading in a corner kick from sophomore Natalia Ruscitto. Hen Hud came back. In fact, they should have been ahead at the 27:30 mark, but they missed the second of two sitters at the left goal post.

The Sailors eventually cashed in with 18:23 left in the half when Alyson DeSclafani launched a high shot that went just under the crossbar and over the outstretched fingers of Rye Neck’s eighth-grade keeper, Sophia Capparelli. Capparelli would come up with a huge save six minutes later with a last-second grab near her right post, one of 14 shots she stopped on the day.

At halftime, Coach Bushnell tweaked a few assignments. “Hen Hud was sliding their weak-side midfielder over, creating some confusion in terms of finding a mark,” she said after the game. “We broke it down: if we could win the next 40 minutes on an extremely hot and humid day, we’d win the game. The girls dug deep in the second half, and gave it their all until the end.”

Literally. After a second Wice score on an assist by fellow captain Maggie O’Malley, it wasn’t until the last minute of play and an insurance goal by freshman Anna Murphy that the Panthers could finally chalk up the win.

Their coach didn’t even try to contain her enthusiasm. “With the thrill of Homecoming and a crowd that was large, loud and supportive, it was exactly what we needed to help give our girls that extra push. The team is off to a fabulous start!” That start includes wins over Dobbs Ferry, Pawling, and Yonkers Montessori Academy, as well as a pair of forfeits from Keio.

Senior Sophia Wice nets Rye Neck’s first score through a throng of Hen Hud defenders.

Sophomore Natalia Ruscitto executes a neat bit of ball control.