Author Archives: Mike Smith

About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.

AOTWCaroline

Rye Athlete of the Week: Caroline Howard

AOTWCarolineBy LAUREN DEMPSEY
Caroline Howard has utilized her many years of dance training to lead this year’s Rye High School cheerleading team. Howard, a senior, is now participating on the varsity squad for her fourth year and second year as a team captain.

The team starts practices during the summer and does more than just cheer at football games; they perform various dance routines and execute stunts. Howard plays the role of flyer on the stunt team. She also helps choreograph the dance routines.

Coach Melissa Pellettieri is very proud of her four year veteran. “Caroline is a dedicated cheerleader who not only prepares our halftime performances and makes sure that her teammates know the routines,” the coach said, “she also organizes and implements various community service projects for the team.”

One of the projects that the team has been heavily involved in is breast cancer awareness, which they have incorporated onto their uniforms. Howard and the team have also volunteered with Soul Ryeders and the Tie the Town Pink campaign by hanging pink ribbons around Rye.

Her teammates also appreciate the effort that Caroline puts in.

“Caroline has such a passion for cheerleading” fellow senior Ali Cardino said. “She is always the girl with the biggest smile because she really loves helping the team get better.”

Caroline not only hits her marks during the dances but also in the classroom. She is on the High Honor Roll and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society.

 

 

 

Greg Powell sheds a tackle against Mamaroneck. After handling the Tigers, Powell and the Huguenots are one win away from a berth in the Class AA championship.

Huguenots outlast Tigers

Jayson Prince finds the end zone in the Class AA quarterfinals. New Rochelle handled short yardage situations quite well against the Tigers this time around.

Jayson Prince finds the end zone in the Class AA quarterfinals. New Rochelle handled short yardage situations quite well against the Tigers this time around.

Greg Powell sheds a tackle against Mamaroneck. After handling the Tigers, Powell and the Huguenots are one win away from a berth in the Class AA championship.

Greg Powell sheds a tackle against Mamaroneck. After handling the Tigers, Powell and the Huguenots are one win away from a berth in the Class AA championship.

Jared Baron looks for daylight against the Tigers on Oct. 24. Baron led New Rochelle with two rushing touchdowns. Photos/Mike Smith

Jared Baron looks for daylight against the Tigers on Oct. 24. Baron led New Rochelle with two rushing touchdowns. Photos/Mike Smith

Emerson Genovese hauls in a catch down the sideline against New Rochelle’s Manny Walker. New Rochelle topped Mamaroneck 28-20 in a Class AA quarterfinal game.

Emerson Genovese hauls in a catch down the sideline against New Rochelle’s Manny Walker. New Rochelle topped Mamaroneck 28-20 in a Class AA quarterfinal game.

By MIKE SMITH
On Oct. 24, New Rochelle escaped what may have been its toughest test to date, earning a 28-20 win over No. 12 seed Mamaroneck in the Class AA quarterfinals. 

At 8-0 on the season, the Huguenots remain the favorites to take a section title, but 1-7 Mamaroneck has been able to give New Rochelle a scare in both meetings between the two teams.

When the Huguenots and Tigers squared off back on Sept. 11, New Rochelle triumphed 14-6 despite several Mamaroneck defensive stands on the goal line. This past Saturday, New Rochelle fared much better in short yardage situations. Sophomore Jared Baron, who paced New Rochelle with two rushing touchdowns, said that Huguenot coach Lou DiRienzo stressed the importance of grinding for extra yards in the days leading up to the game.

“Coach D really just told us to knock them off the ball,” Baron said. “We work all season in the weight room to get stronger and we just needed to get stronger as a team and push them back.”

New Rochelle also got rushing scores from Keelan Thomas and Jayson Prince, but the Huguenot defense had some difficulty containing Mamaroneck quarterback Bill Flatow, who threw for 260 yards and a touchdown and also found the end zone on a trick-play pass from halfback Julian Haughton. Flatow missed the first meeting between the two teams due to an injured shoulder, but his presence certainly gave the Tigers more offensive options in the quarterfinal game.

“We knew coming in that [Flatow] knows that offense so well,” Huguenot defensive back Romeo Holden said. “That made us work that much harder.”

Despite Flatow’s prodigious passing day, the Huguenots clamped down when it mattered most.

In the final minute of the game, with his team trailing by eight points, Flatow drove the Tigers into Huguenot territory, when he lofted a pass for Emerson Genovese down the left sideline. Holden was there, however, and out-jumped the senior wideout to come away with a touchdown-saving interception.

“I saw the ball coming and I knew I needed to make a play,” Holden said. “So I went and got it.”

The loss ended Mamaroneck’s bid for a long playoff push, but was certainly a showcase for what may have been the most underrated team in Section I.

“The kids came out and battled like they have all year, that’s just the type of team this is,” Mamaroneck coach Anthony Vitti said. “Unfortunately, we’re not here for moral victories.”

With the win, the Huguenots advance to the Class AA semifinals, where they will take on a Scarsdale team that needed a touchdown on the final drive to top Mahopac last week. According to Baron, the Huguenots are up for the challenge.

“Every day we come to practice ready to work,” Baron said. “Every day we say, ‘This has to be a great day;’ we can only move forward, we can’t take steps back.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 

Huguenots win Class AA title

by MIKE SMITH

If any early-season questions lingered about New Rochelle’s offensive prowess, the Huguenots answered them last weekend. On Saturday, Nov. 7, New Rochelle claimed the Class AA title with a 44-25 victory over John Jay, in a game that showed just how scary the Huguenots can be when they are clicking.

The Huguenots celebrate their 44-25 section title win over John Jay. The victory marks New Rochelle’s first title since 2012.

The Huguenots celebrate their 44-25 section title win over John Jay. The victory marks New Rochelle’s first title since 2012.

Keelan Thomas led the way for the Huguenots, rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns and returning a kickoff 82 yards for a score in the New Rochelle win.

“It felt great,” Thomas said. “Before the game, I told our players we hadn’t won a section championship in three years so we had to come out hard to win today.”

But even though Thomas’ performance earned him Most Valuable Player honors on the day, he was hardly the only Huguenot who shined on the offensive end. Sophomore Jared Baron added his own rushing touchdown and quarterback Greg Powell ran for 73 yards and a score while going 6-for-11 in the air for 86 yards.
New Rochelle’s lone passing touchdown came when Powell left the game due to an injury, however. In the third quarter, with Powell out, backup Jonathan Saddler launched a 56-yard touchdown pass to Rashon McNeil.

“It’s what we preach in practice: if a backup comes in the game, he’s got to be treated like a starter,” Powell said. “It’s next man up, and we’re only as strong as that last guy.”

Rashon McNeil hauls in a touchdown pass against John Jay. Photos/Mike Smith

Rashon McNeil hauls in a touchdown pass against John Jay. Photos/Mike Smith

Defensively, the Huguenots had their hands full with John Jay quarterback Ryan Schumacher, who threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more. But New Rochelle managed to respond to each Patriot touchdown with a score of their own. The result was a much more one-sided game than the last time the two teams met.

On Sept. 3, New Rochelle edged John Jay 18-16 in the opening game of the year thanks to a last-minute Hail Mary from Powell to McNeill.

“That first game, we weren’t together as a team,” Thomas said. “As the weeks went by, we came together and this game, we all contributed together.”

Lloyd King lays a hit on John Jay quarterback Ryan Schumacher on Nov. 7. Schumacher accounted for all four Patriots’ touchdowns, but the Huguenots made enough stops to preserve a 44-25 win.

Lloyd King lays a hit on John Jay quarterback Ryan Schumacher on Nov. 7. Schumacher accounted for all four Patriots’ touchdowns, but the Huguenots made enough stops to preserve a 44-25 win.

After the first two weeks of the season, when the Huguenots were unable to break the 20-point mark, the offense has shown a marked improvement. Over its last eight contests, New Rochelle has averaged 35.2 points per game.

Despite the uptick in production, however, Powell believes his team is capable of more.
“We’re pretty good, but I don’t think we’ve hit our ceiling yet,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

The Huguenots will be back in action on Nov. 14, when they take on Section IX Newburgh in the state regional finals at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. The Goldbacks beat Monroe-Woodbury 23-0 on Nov. 7 to advance to the state playoffs, and currently sit at 9-2 on the season.

Keelan Thomas rushes around the end during New Rochelle’s Class AA championship game against John Jay. Thomas rushed for two scores and returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.

Keelan Thomas rushes around the end during New Rochelle’s Class AA championship game against John Jay. Thomas rushed for two scores and returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.

But as the Huguenots prepare for their next test, Powell said, they will be sure to spend some time to let last Saturday’s win sink in.

“This feels great,” he said. “Since I was a freshman, we haven’t been here, so to get to this point and to win, it’s just hard to describe.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

round1

Mamaroneck Roundup

 

round3

A Mamaroneck player rushes past a White Plains defender on Sept. 1. The Tigers are one win away from the Class AA title game.

Football
10/24 Woodlands d. Rye Neck 14-6
Despite a much-improved performance against a Woodlands team that earned a double-digit victory over the Panthers last time, Rye Neck fell to the Falcons in the Class C semifinals in a truly defensive struggle.

Woodlands quarterback Amiri Bilal accounted for both touchdowns, rushing for 175 yards and a score and throwing for another in the win. Rye Neck’s points came on a pass from Frank Capparelli to Chris Colangelo.

With the win, Woodlands advances to the Class C finals, where it will take on No. 1 seed Dobbs Ferry on Oct. 31.

 

round2

A Tiger player looks upfield during a late-season contest against Scarsdale. On Oct. 28, Mamaroneck will begin its postseason campaign against Arlington. Photo/Mike Smith

Field Hockey
10/22 Edgemont d. Rye Neck 2-1
In the first round of the Class C playoffs, No. 8 seed Edgemont toppled No. 9 Rye Neck in a hard-fought contest between closely-matched teams. Victoria McGee’s two goals proved to be the difference-maker as the home team topped the Panthers by a goal.

Unfortunately for Edgemont, the playoff run would end two days later in the Class C quarterfinals, when it fell to top-seeded Pawling 3-1.

 

10/28 Mamaroneck
vs. Arlington
The top-seeded Class A Tigers will make their first foray into the postseason this year, after press time, on Oct. 28, when they take on the No. 9-seeded Admirals. Arlington advanced to the second round with a 2-1 shootout win over John Jay on Oct. 25.

The Admirals and Patriots entered the shootout tied at 1-1, but goals from Audrey Teanor and Erin Roberts pushed Arlington over the top to force a matchup with the Tigers.

 

round1

Gabriel Ajram carries the ball on Oct. 17 against Tuckahoe. On Oct. 24, Rye Neck lost 14-6 to Woodlands in the Class C semifinals. Photos/Bobby Begun

Boys Soccer

10/26 Rye Neck d. Bronxville 2-0

Last season’s Class B champions proved just how dangerous they are on Monday, as the No. 7 Panthers knocked off No. 2 Bronxville with a masterful shutout performance.

Donovan Dunning and Kol Lewis both found the net for Rye Neck to set up a semifinal showdown with No. 3 Edgemont on Oct. 28, after press time. Edgemont won its quarterfinal game against Briarcliff when Drew Simon broke a 1-1 tie with 13 minutes to play.

 

10/26 Mamaroneck
d. Horace Greeley 2-1 (OT)

They may have needed extra time to stop the Quakers, but the Tigers are flying high as they head into the Class AA semifinal round. Connor LeBlanc scored Mamaroneck’s first goal of the game, but it was Jack Spiradellis who notched the game-winner in overtime, finding the net on a free kick from Cameron Richards.

Mamaroneck will take on top-seeded Arlington, which won its quarterfinal game over Suffern 4-0, on Oct. 28, after press time.

Erin Nelson heads the ball. Harrison’s lone goal came off a Nelson corner kick in the second half.

Huskies on to semis

Kayla Hymowitz controls the ball on Oct. 27 against Ursuline. Harrison beat the Koalas 1-0 in the Class A quarterfinal round.

Kayla Hymowitz controls the ball on Oct. 27 against Ursuline. Harrison beat the Koalas 1-0 in the Class A quarterfinal round.

By MIKE SMITH
If Harrison’s postseason has been something of an adventure so far, it seems to be one that the Huskies are well prepared for. On Oct. 27, Harrison won its second straight nailbiter, topping Ursuline 1-0 to advance to the Class A semifinals. 

Karina Brachlow netted the game-winner 10 minutes into the second half, scoring on a corner kick from Erin Nelson to put the Huskies up by one. But although Brachlow accounted for the Huskies’ only points on the day, it wasn’t for lack of chances.

Harrison managed 19 shots on goal against Ursuline keeper Jena Pelinkovic, but until the second half, couldn’t break through.

“Their keeper did a phenomenal job in net and we had a lot of really good chances,” Harrison coach Jon-Erik Zappala said. “She played a high line, took some chances and it worked out for them.”

In the end though, Harrison’s onslaught proved too much as the Huskies escaped with their second one-goal win of the postseason. On Oct. 24, the No. 4-seeded Huskies beat league foe Pelham 2-1 in overtime to keep the season alive.

According to Zappala, the two tight wins have the team buzzing as the semifinals loom.

Maya Samad battles for the ball in a postseason game against Ursuline.

Maya Samad battles for the ball in a postseason game against Ursuline.

“They’re fired up and they’ve been playing so well,” Zappala said. “We have that intensity from every single member of the team from the sidelines to the field.”

Harrison will need to keep that intensity heading into the next round however, as they get set to take on top-seeded Somers on Oct. 29, after press time. Somers had little trouble in the quarterfinal round, blowing out Lakeland 8-0 to advance.

The Tuskers had three players notch at least two goals in the win, and have not yet given up a goal in the postseason. Although Somers and Harrison did not meet in the regular season, they did scrimmage in August.

“We scheduled them as the first scrimmage of the year,” Zappala said. “And since then, we’ve been keeping tabs on them, seeing who they’ve beaten and who’s been scoring for them.”

Erin Nelson heads the ball. Harrison’s lone goal came off a Nelson corner kick in the second half.

Erin Nelson heads the ball. Harrison’s lone goal came off a Nelson corner kick in the second half.

With just one day to prepare, Zappala said that he and assistant coach Lindsey Reilly have no time to waste coming up with a strategy for unseating the Class A favorites.

“Every game, we reflect on what we need to work on,” he said. “So we’re going to break it down, start thinking about formations and write up a practice plan.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com 

 

 

 

 

 

Shannon Nelson chases down the ball against Ursuline. Harrison will take on No. 1 seed Somers in the Class A semifinals. Photos/Bobby Begun

Shannon Nelson chases down the ball against Ursuline. Harrison will take on No. 1 seed Somers in the Class A semifinals. Photos/Bobby Begun

 
Taylor Fabiani blows past a Pelican defender. Photos/Mike Smith

Harrison hangs on

Taylor Kelly defends a Pelham player on Oct. 27. Harrison topped the Pelicans 2-1 in a Class B first round playoff game.

Taylor Kelly defends a Pelham player on Oct. 27. Harrison topped the Pelicans 2-1 in a Class B first round playoff game.

Taylor Fabiani blows past a Pelican defender. Photos/Mike Smith

Taylor Fabiani blows past a Pelican defender. Photos/Mike Smith

Elisa Arcara controls the ball near midfield in a playoff contest against Pelham. Arcara’s performance at the center midfield position helped the Huskies come away with the win.

Elisa Arcara controls the ball near midfield in a playoff contest against Pelham. Arcara’s performance at the center midfield position helped the Huskies come away with the win.

Christine Cardascia looks for an open teammate.

Christine Cardascia looks for an open teammate.

By MIKE SMITH
Harrison’s field hockey squad got off to a quick postseason start on Oct. 27, scoring early and hanging on to top Pelham 2-1 in a Class B first round game. But as the No. 5 Huskies prepare for a long playoff run, they know they’ll have to hold off more than a few charges in the coming week.

Tasha Garayo notched Harrison’s first goal of the afternoon and teammate Julie Robertson followed shortly after to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game on Monday. They held onto the two goal lead throughout the first half, moving the ball well and putting constant pressure on the Pelham defense.

“We had a great first half and I think our intensity was there,” Harrison coach Caitlin Rooney said. “But sometimes I think we get stuck being comfortable and we can drop off a bit.”

That’s exactly what happened, as Pelham roared back in the second half, cutting the lead to one about halfway through the final stanza.

“Pelham just wanted it more than we did in the second half and I think it showed,” the Harrison coach said. “They played with more intensity.”

The Huskies regained their footing after the Pelicans’ goal, and were able to keep Pelham out of the goal as they held onto the one-score lead. Pelham’s final chance came on a penalty corner with just under three minutes to play, but the Huskies were able to turn the ball away.

“We’ve got a good defense and a strong midfield,” Rooney said. “And we were able to hold our own at the end of the game.”

According to the head coach, Pelham’s second half surge should be something of an eye opener for a fairly young Harrison team.

“Sectionals [are] a whole other game, and sometimes it’s going to come down to who wants it more,” she said. “So I think this was kind of a learning experience for us in that second half.”

With the win, Harrison advances to the quarterfinals where it will take on No. 4-seeded Byram Hills. The Bobcats are coming off a convincing 3-0 win over Sleepy Hollow in which three different players registered goals for the higher seed.

“We know they’ve got two strong players in the center that have great hits, so we will work on giving them more depth,” Rooney said. “But we have a lot of good players, so if we go at [full] speed and do the things we’re good at, we can be successful.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
Rye’s Leo Gomes tries to control the ball.

Eastchester upsets Garnets

Eastchester and Rye players battle for possession on Oct. 23. Eastchester topped the Garnets 1-0 in overtime.

Eastchester and Rye players battle for possession on Oct. 23. Eastchester topped the Garnets 1-0 in overtime.

Rye’s Leo Gomes tries to control the ball.

Rye’s Leo Gomes tries to control the ball.

Will Colwell traps the ball against Eastchester. Photos/Mike Smith

Will Colwell traps the ball against Eastchester. Photos/Mike Smith

Eastchester’s Lucas Barbieri makes a save against Rye. Barbieri had 10 saves in Eastchester’s shutout win.

Eastchester’s Lucas Barbieri makes a save against Rye. Barbieri had 10 saves in Eastchester’s shutout win.

By MIKE SMITH
Sometimes a game can come down to one unlucky break. The Rye Garnets found that out firsthand on Oct. 23 when they saw a stellar 2015 campaign end with an overtime loss to Eastchester in the Class A first round. 

The No. 12 seed Eagles broke a scoreless tie in overtime, when a Brad Pantel throw-in bounced off the head of a Garnet defender and trickled past keeper Owen Moore into the net.

According to Garnet head coach Sal Curella, that one bounce took away the momentum the Garnets had been gathering since the start of the overtime period.

“We opened up overtime the way we did the last time we played Eastchester,” Curella said. “We put full pressure on them, and I think they only had the ball in our half for about
20 seconds.”

Unfortunately for the Garnets, 20 seconds was all the Eagles needed.

“It just had this weird spin and dribbled into the back of the net,” Curella said. “Everyone just kind of froze.”

The No. 5-seeded Garnets held off an early Eastchester charge to start the game and seemed firmly in control of the action for much of the second half. But Eagles’ keeper Lucas Barbieri was up to the task, making 10 saves in the game to keep Rye off the stat sheet. It was the third meeting between the two league foes this year, and the first time the Eagles came out on top. All three games were decided in overtime.

“It’s hard enough to beat someone twice,” Curella said. “But we believed we were going to win coming into that overtime. It was a tough loss to take emotionally.”

With the win, the 7-8-1 Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals on Oct. 26, where they topped No. 4 Lakeland 1-0 in overtime on a Luca Fava goal.

Rye’s loss ends the Garnets’ season, but Curella admits that he is still impressed by the team’s play in his first year at the helm of the program. Rye finished with a 12-5 record, and with a number of underclassmen returning next year, the head coach believes the future is promising.

“The number one thing I told them is that the season isn’t defined by one game,” the head coach said. “We have so much to be proud of as we move on and look to build a culture of winning soccer.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
MikeSmith

Column: Hidden gems

Sports Editor Mike Smith, as evidenced by this photo from 1987, used to be a big fan of the Mets. But with no memories of the team’s title run in ‘86, he’s hoping the Amazin’s produce some great moments during this Fall Classic. Contributed photo

Sports Editor Mike Smith, as evidenced by this photo from 1987, used to be a big fan of the Mets. But with no memories of the team’s title run in ‘86, he’s hoping the Amazin’s produce some great moments during this Fall Classic. Contributed photo

A few months ago, I was looking through old family photo albums and found incontrovertible proof that I was once an honest-to-goodness Mets fan. I’m not talking about the kind of Mets fan I am today, one who recognizes a great sports narrative after years of suffering, and temporarily shifts his allegiances over to the surging New York baseball team. I’m talking about a dyed-in-the-wool, wear-the-whole-uniform-just-because type of fan.

Also, I was 3 years old.

Looking back on it now, it’s not surprising that I showed such an affinity for the team in my younger years. If I was 3 in the photo I found, that meant it was right around 1987: the Mets were just coming off their miraculous 1986 World
Series, and they had two of the game’s undeniable young stars in Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Like they are now, the Mets in the mid-to-late 80s were “cool.”

But here’s the thing: I can’t remember anything about the Mets during that time. Of course, being the baseball fan I am, I’ve gone back and devoured books and articles about the ‘86 Amazin’s, read clippings from the wild series against the Houston Astros and done my best to fully understand the “Met-mania” that gripped the Big Apple that autumn.

Thanks to YouTube, I have not one, but two songs released that year celebrating the accomplishments of that team currently on heavy rotation on my iTunes. And for the record, “Get Metsmerized,” a rap song recorded by George Foster, Rafael Santana, Lenny Dykstra, Darryl, Dwight and others, remains the far
superior track.

But as for actual memories of that team? Alas, I was too young.

My only World Series memories of the Mets come from the Subway Series in 2000, when they fell to the Yankees in five games. But while the series may have lacked in drama—Piazza’s near-blast in Game 5 notwithstanding—it did provide me with one of my favorite World Series moments of all time.

I was a high school junior at the time, and Game 1 of the series coincided with a friend’s Sweet 16 party. Because the soiree was held on a boat cruising around New York Harbor, I had pretty much resigned myself to not catching any of the action live. But sometime around 9 p.m., I found myself, along with maybe 10 other guests and various members of the ship’s crew, huddled in the captain’s cabin, gathered around a small portable TV watching Al Leiter and Andy Pettitte trade zeros into the sixth inning. It was one of those surreal moments, seeing the skyline of New York City lit up as its two baseball teams were battling for the sport’s ultimate prize.

I do, however, feel somewhat guilty that the game robbed some of the female partygoers of their dance partners for the evening.

So here we are, once again, on the eve of another World Series appearance by the Mets, 15 years after the last one. By the time most of you will be reading this, we will be two games in and the series will be headed back to Citi Field for a three-game Mets homestand.

Baseball is a funny sport and there’s no way to predict what’s going to happen this week. I just hope it doesn’t lack at least a few cool moments.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have a shot at fitting into that old uniform anymore.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter
@LiveMike_Sports

 
Gia Mancini controls a ball during an early-season contest against Eastchester. With a 10-5-1 record, Mancini and the Huskies have earned the No. 4 seed in the Class A playoffs. Photo/Mike Smith

Huskies nab No. 4 seed

 

 

Gia Mancini controls a ball during an early-season contest against Eastchester. With a 10-5-1 record, Mancini and the Huskies have earned the No. 4 seed in the Class A playoffs. Photo/Mike Smith

Gia Mancini controls a ball during an early-season contest against Eastchester. With a 10-5-1 record, Mancini and the Huskies have earned the No. 4 seed in the Class A playoffs. Photo/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH
With a 3-0 win over Port Chester on Oct. 19, the Harrison Huskies appear to be hitting their stride with the postseason on the horizon. With a 10-5-1 record and having secured one of the top seeds in the Class A playoffs, Harrison will now turn its attention to making a run toward the section title. 

Against the Rams, Emma Hochman, Gina DiRusso and Gia Mancini all tallied a goal and an assist, something that head coach Jon-Erik Zappala believes highlighted the style of play that has carried the Huskies all year long.

“Compared to last year, we had more assists, more people scoring goals,” Zappala said. “Once we started to communicate out there, we really started to play much more cohesively.”

After a few tough losses early in the year, Harrison began to turn the corner after a mid-season win over a top-ranked Byram Hills squad. From that point on, Zappala said, the team began to gel both on and off the field.

“Our improvement was a gradual process, but when we beat Byram, you could see that their confidence rose,” he said. “We saw just how well we came together and how well we played to beat a top team.”

Harrison’s play throughout the regular season has earned the team a No. 4 seed in the Class A postseason, which begins its outbracket round on Oct. 22, after press time. Harrison will be in action on Oct. 24 when it hosts Pelham in the first round.

“I had a lot of confidence in this team all year,” Zappala said. “Coming into the meeting we weren’t exactly sure where we’d be but I figured we would be around fourth or fifth.”

In Pelham, the Huskies will face a familiar foe.

The Huskies and Pelicans have met twice already this season, with each team winning a game. Like Harrison, Pelham won its regular season finale in one-sided fashion, topping Lincoln 5-0 on Oct. 19.

“It’s always an interesting dynamic when you play a team for the third time,” Zappala said. “We know they’ve got a really good keeper, and it should be a very good game.”

As for strategy, Zappala said, all he can ask is that his girls go out and stick to what made them successful this year; communication and unselfish play.

“We’ve got to play with everything we’ve got to get the job done,” he said. “So far, this year, they’ve been getting the
job done.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
Justin Walker lays a hit on Rye Neck quarterback Frank Capparelli. Photo/Bobby Begun

Eastchester Football Roundup

Jeff Sargeant tries to shed a Valhalla tackler in Bronxville’s Class B qualifying game against the Vikings. Photo/Mike Smith

Jeff Sargeant tries to shed a Valhalla tackler in Bronxville’s Class B qualifying game against the Vikings. Photo/Mike Smith

10/17 Rye Neck d. Tuckahoe 25-6

Rye Neck earned its second win of the season in its final tune-up before the playoffs, topping Class D Tuckahoe at home on Saturday afternoon.

Junior Gio Maffei put together his best game of the season for the Black Hats, carrying the ball 24 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Prior to the game against Tuckahoe, Maffei had topped the 50-yard rushing mark just once in the team’s season opener against Warrensburg.

“Gio had a great week of practice,” Rye Neck assistant coach Mark Poniros said. “Whenever you have a great week of practice, that carries over into the game.”

Rye Neck’s defense also came up big, forcing four turnovers on the day. Maffei, Jack Evans and Nick D’Errico all had interceptions, while Dan Garofolo picked up a Tigers fumble.

Justin Walker lays a hit on Rye Neck quarterback Frank Capparelli. Photo/Bobby Begun

Justin Walker lays a hit on Rye Neck quarterback Frank Capparelli. Photo/Bobby Begun

“That was a huge momentum swing for us,” Poniros said. “It gave us the chance to take over the ball four extra times.”

Tuckahoe will travel upstate on Oct. 23 to take on the Section IX powerhouse Chester. The Hambletonians, who defeated the Tigers last year in the state tournament, are currently 5-2 on the year.

At 2-4, the Class C Panthers are looking forward to their Oct. 24 playoff meeting with Woodlands. Woodlands hosted Rye Neck on Oct. 10, beating the Panthers 44-18. Last season, the two teams met in the Class C championship game, which Woodlands won 28-20.

10/17 Bronxville d. Valhalla 27-8

Bronxville rose to the occasion on Saturday, topping unbeaten Valhalla in the qualifying round of the Class B playoffs. Valhalla drew first blood, finding the end zone midway through the second quarter, but the Broncos battled back, scoring 27 unanswered points to advance to the quarterfinals.

Quarterback Brian DePaul led the way for Bronxville, rushing for 232 yards and two scores and finding Sam Connors for 132 yards and a touchdown through the air. Anthony Napolitano got the lion’s share of the carries, rushing 20 times for 204 yards on the afternoon.

Sam Connors lays out for a catch against Valhalla on Oct. 17. Connors had 131 receiving yards and a touchdown in Bronxville’s 27-8 win. Photo/Mike Smith

Sam Connors lays out for a catch against Valhalla on Oct. 17. Connors had 131 receiving yards and a touchdown in Bronxville’s 27-8 win. Photo/Mike Smith

With the win, Bronxville earned the right to take on No. 3 seed Westlake on Oct. 24. The Panthers had little trouble in their qualifying round game, topping Briarcliff/Hamilton 52-6. Westlake is currently 5-2 on the season, but its two losses came against opponents it has in common with the Broncos. The Panthers fell 12-0 to a Nanuet team that beat Bronxville 40-6 and also dropped a 20-6 game to Pleasantville, which beat the Broncos 20-6.

 

 

 

 

Chris Corrado looks for an open lane against Rye Neck on Oct. 17. Rye Neck topped the Tigers 25-6.  Photo/Bobby Begun

Chris Corrado looks for an open lane against Rye Neck on Oct. 17. Rye Neck topped the Tigers 25-6.
Photo/Bobby Begun