By Mitch Silver

The Bronxville Broncos were the top seeds in the 2016 Section C tournament and slipped all the way to second this year. But they still pack a wallop, as the outgunned Panthers of Rye Neck discovered last week when they achieved a single shot on goal while losing 8-0. Even so, being knocked out of the playoffs by the Broncos for the second straight year doesn’t disguise the fact that Rye Neck field hockey is taking baby steps toward the top under first-year Head Coach Marissa Kluber.

A year ago, the Panthers had to win a play-in game just to be included in the main draw. This year, thanks in part to a stunning 5-0 defeat of Hastings in the last league game of the regular season, the team was seeded seventh, and thus was able to proceed directly to the stone wall that is Bronxville. One bright spot: despite yielding eight goals, keeper Natalie Sutter made 10 saves on the afternoon. The fact that she was still standing at the end of the game after 18 shots on goal is greatly to her credit.

After the game, Coach Kluber said, “I have seen tremendous improvement in the girls. It can be hard for the younger group to approach a team of juniors and seniors and look at their size and age difference, but the girls have developed into their positions and settled into their spots nicely and with more confidence.

As for Natalie, she’s a freshman and the position could have been intimidating. Instead, she improved right through the season. The Bronxville game was her second in a row facing a lot of shots: she made 18 saves out of 23 against Rye. We lost by five, but she really kept us in the competition. I’m looking forward to seeing her develop as the years go by.

April Zhung controls the middle of the field against Croton-Harmon.