In field hockey, the wind, the rain and frigid temperatures did not spoil John Jay’s trip to the Section I/Class B championship game in Brewster in 2018, and neither did the 6-1 loss to Lakeland that brought the curtain down on a 13-5-1 season for the Indians.
Head coach Debbi Walsh knew what she lost to graduation from that team, namely Tyman Cronin, Rosie Ceisler, Cara O’Reilly, Vienna Protomastro, Katie Palacio, Elizabeth Strattner, Claire Tobin, Julia Brown and Julia Healy — players who placed Jay back on the field hockey map in Section I.
However, with a strong feeder program in place, Walsh appears to have reloaded her program in quick order.
And it showed with an 8-6-3 mark in 2019 that was ended, once again, at the hands of Lakeland, this time the final margin was 6-0 in the semifinals.
Jay lost eight seniors to graduation in Ashleigh Brennan, Ella Blum, Bella Giner, Melina O’Connor, Mackenzie Spieler, Sharan Uppal, Brooke Giardina and Sydney Phillips. Each will be missed, especially Blum, who had a knack for scoring big goals.
The departures left holes to fill in the line-up — and Walsh has been juggling her personnel to attempt to find the right mix.
The coach has solid building blocks in all areas: in goal, senior Sam Spieler is back; on defense, senior Ashly Schafere will anchor the unit; while at midfield, senior Morgan Burhance and junior Zoe Eliades will lead the way.
Meanwhile, juniors Christina Simmes and Aidan Summer on defense, and junior midfielder Alliey Magistro may make an immediate impact.
“This team shows a true dedication to field hockey,” Walsh said. “During quarantine, they were all committed to working on their conditioning and stick skills. They arrived to tryouts with little rust, focused, super-psyched to be together and ready to improve their game.”
She continued, “Every year, the girls set their top goal on getting to sectionals and playing their best games when it’s needed the most. With COVID and the safety protocols that have been implemented, it is important that the coaches create a safe place for them where they can relax, have fun and not be anxious. Accomplishing that is my definition of success this season.”
In 2017, the John Jay girls’ soccer team saw its season end with a 1-0 Class A semifinal loss to eventual sectional champion Pearl River. That defeat brought the curtain down on a highly successful 13-4-1 campaign.
That set expectations very high in Cross River in 2018 — and head coach David Nuttall’s team responded as the Indians captured the sectional Class A championship and advanced to the second-round of the state playoff before finally bowing out Nov. 3 when Section 4’s Vestal downed the Section I champion Indians, 1-0, in a state Class A regional final at Maine-Endwell High School in upstate Binghamton.
The loss ended Jay’s season at 20-2-0.
This past fall, Nuttall needed to replace the eight seniors who graduate from the 2018 team, including Avery David, Ana Dorta, Elizabeth Labriola, Morgan McCarthy, Allison Oestreicher, Jordan Sandell, Grace Vittoria and Erin Walsh. All played important roles and were difficult to replace this fall.
However, Nuttall and the team handled the transition well as they posted a 12-5-1 mark that included a Class A quarterfinal loss at third-seeded Albertus Magnus Oct. 28 in Bardonia, Rockland County.
Nine seniors played their final soccer game for Jay in that game — Adeline Angelino, Audrey Bond, Eve Chipman, Amelia Ellin, Caroline Ettinger, Sasha Medile, Kaitlyn Weis, Charlotte Wilmoth and Hope Young. Of this group, Wilmoth’s offensive prowess will be the hardest to replicate this season.
As he hopes to continue Jay’s success on the pitch, Nuttall will look to five standouts for leadership — senior defender Katie Labriola, senior winger Brynn DiGuglielmo, senior striker Mia DiChiara, senior defender Lauren Munoz and junior midfielder Caroline Panzirer.
“We are strong defensively with a core group of defenders who are four-year varsity players,” Nuttall said. “We also have some good firepower up top to score goals and some younger talent coming through who are a year older now.”
He added, “The hope is we manage to get through the season uninterrupted with everything going on currently. We want to win our league we are in and if there is a sectional tournament reach the finals.”
In boys’ soccer, last fall a very youthful John Jay team ended 7-11-0 under head coach Chris Rietsch.
That team lost just seven seniors to graduation — Stephen Lamont, Chris Martini, Andrew Matthews, Christopher Picerni, Joey Pink and Kevin Wanek — as Rietsch will have a healthy list of veterans to build upon this autumn.
Top returners on offense are senior Cole Fergusson and juniors Rumi Schemmerer and Aiden Oates; while seniors Owen Walsh, Matt Macedo and Josue Giron and junior Dugan Ellin return at midfield.
On defense, juniors Johnny McMahon and Ryan Byrne, as well as senior Ryan Pollitt will anchor the defense in front of senior keeper Owen Rabii.
“Many of these boys were starting as Sophomores last season since we graduated only one — many are three or four-year varsity players,” Rietsch said.
This veteran group will be supplemented by a strong sophomore class of newcomers that includes forward Lavi Ohana, midfielder Jason Rietsch, midfielder/defenders David Bond and Jack Shapiro, as well as defenders Holden Sussman and Zach Miller.
“Last season we were a very young team and just learning to play together,” Rietsch said. “We started only six upperclassmen and graduated only one last season, with five returning to play with a much more experienced group of rising juniors and quality sophomores. Despite the inexperience, we challenged the opposition in many games that we lost, going into extra-time four times and losing three — 11 of our games were won or lost by only a single goal. Last year we lost seven of these games. With the added experience, I expect many of these close games to fall into our win column this season.”
He continued, “We are a very balanced team, with skilled players across the pitch. Last year, that balance resulted in all but two players across the 22-man squad finding their way into the scoring sheet. On Defense, we conceded 8 less goals than the season before. With our returning group, we expect to concede even less.”
Rietsch added, “We feel that there can only be one goal this season, in addition to staying healthy and safe, and that is to win a sectional title. The leadership, depth and experience across the pitch, coupled with the right attitude and drive, and this team will accomplish more than any Jay team has in decades. Last year, with six games against Rye, Yorktown and Somers showed us what a team that can challenge for a sectional title can look like. They know they are close and if we can stay fit, maintain the positive attitude we have now and have some close calls fall our way, and the title will not be out of our reach.”
The girl’s tennis team under head coach Mark Passman received strong 2019 seasons from a roster that included seniors Vera Celaj, Tess Greenspan, Jenna Luper, Isabel O’Shaughnessy and Caroline Mardirossian.
Head coach Mark Passman expected seniors Joelle Sacks and Rachel Warsaw, junior Victoria Fenton and sophomores Renee Shaw and Julia Golis to return for this season.
The John Jay girls’ four-year run as sectional Class B cross-country champions came to an end last Nov. 9 as Pearl River dethroned the Indians at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.
Jay still managed to qualify two runners — Kelsey Crawford and Clodagh McGroary — for the state championship race. In addition to the winning team, the five top finishers earn berths on the Section I team.
While McGroary has graduated, Crawford is expected back for her senior season this autumn.
Sophomore Lily O’Shaughnessy and senior Lilian Carey are also expected to have big seasons.
Meanwhile, the Jay boys placed fourth in the Class B sectional team standings.
Jay’s Thomas Dachik just missed on qualifying for the state race, finishing seventh in 17:25.7 — just more than a second behind sixth-place finisher Colin Brooks of Somers, who crossed in 17:24.3 to earn the fifth and final at-large spot.
Dachik will be back for his senior year this fall.
Also expected to return this season are senior Logan Aceste and junior Max Goodman,
The Jay cross-country teams will also have new coaches this season as Will Carter takes over the boys’ program, while Danielle Crigler will head the girls’ squad.
“This year, our team is a cohesive and reliable group of athletes that complement each other with their skills, experience and attitude,” the coaches said. “Our team goal is simply to have an enjoyable season where we practice and compete in a safe environment while we stay active and keep in shape.”