Optimism always runs high at John Jay when the spring sports’ season arrives.
Warmer weather is accompanied by feelings of upcoming successes on the diamond, lacrosse field, tennis courts and golf course.
Even after a year away from competing, those goals remain the same, even if the rosters are dotted with players who will be seeing varsity action for the first time.
Head coach Geoff Curtis knows that with the condensed schedule this spring that there is little time for a team to find its groove. “It needs to find itself — in a hurry,” Curtis said.
Heading into the season, the Wolves had a four-way competition ongoing for the catcher’s spot between Alex Samayoa, Aidan Grskovic, Michael Russo and Scott Esposito.
Meanwhile, Dan Pieratti and Owen Morabito are expected to see time at first base, with Russo at second and either Jackson Pizer or Alec Skriloff at shortstop. Lucas Orlovitz looks set at third.
Left field will see either Morabito or Liam Tuohy shagging fly balls, with Miles Capobianco or Jake Kern in center and one of C.J. Polworth, Daniel Gonzalez and Andrew Lombardi in right.
Curtis’ top pitchers heading into the schedule include Marcos Arbogast, Andrew Hammer, Alex Swee and Polworth.
“We are a major unknown,” Curtis said, which is probably true with most other schools, he noted. Still, he added, “We’ve got a nice group of leaders who are excited by their turn at the helm.”
Head coach Steve DelMoro also has competitions for positions throughout his lineup. Two sure things, however, that he can count on are seniors Lindsay Neumann and Dani Roban.
“Lindsay is our shortstop, she has a dangerous bat, a great glove and a strong arm,” DelMoro said. “She has been a leader on this team for the last few years, this year will be no different.” She is committed to play softball at Tufts University next fall.
He continued, “Dani is the jack of all trades — she can play anywhere we put her. She has great range, smooth feet, a consistent glove, and a very strong arm. Dani will be a big threat in the lineup as well.” She was All-Section honorable mention as a sophomore and is committed to play softball at Muhlenberg College next fall.
Pitching is where it all begins and ends on the softball diamond and DelMoro has a pair of hurlers he is confident can get the job done in the circle in Ashley Buatte and Emma Klares.
“We are looking for a strong season out of Ashley this year. She has been working hard all year and it has shown,” DelMoro said. “She is not only a solid pitcher but a consistent outfielder and has improved her hitting as well.”
The coach added “Our only freshman this year, (Emma) lives around the strike zone. We are looking for her to take a step forward this year and contribute some big innings in what is going to be a short and jam-packed season.”
DelMoro feels comfortable with what he has seen so far.
“Offensively, we will need to ‘pass the bat’ as my girls like to call it,” he said. “We cannot wait for the big hit and will all need to contribute in any way we can. We have a variety of strengths throughout the lineup and will need everyone doing their part.”
The coach continued, “Defensively, we will need to focus on the little things. We have a very athletic team and we should be able to showcase that on defense.”
DelMoro summed up, “We need to do the little things right day in and day out in order to be successful. Our motto is to win the day — every day we need to go 1-0. In a crazy year like this, the unexpected is going to happen; we need to take it in stride the best we can and keep pushing forward.”
He said, “Our ultimate goals are to win our league and compete for the section title but that doesn’t just happen, it starts with the little things.”
In 2019, Jay’s boys lacrosse team made a post-season run that ended with a loss in the state Class B final to Victor. From that team, only goalie Aidan Koff, midfielders Ryan Brennan, Nick Giardina and Henry Salazar and defenseman Alex Eliades remain on the roster, and Eliades is out for the season with an injury.
Heading into the season, head coach Tim Schurr might be most comfortable with what he has in goal in Koff, who will play at Delaware, and back-up Andrew Minard, who is also a college D-1 capable keeper.
The defense will include seniors Ethan Jackson, Frank McMahon and Jack O’Reilly, juniors Finn O’Callaghan and Quincy Greene, as well as sophomore Charlie Burt.
The coaching staff expects all six poles to contribute.
Giardina, Brennan and Salazar headline a midfield group that also includes freshman Andrew Kiefer, sophomores Chris DiChiara and Kyle Petschek, freshmen John Altneau and Andrew Kiefer, senior Jacob Silva and juniors Jake Kauftheil and Will Kershner.
Attack for the Wolves took on a whole new look when junior Tyler Wishart, a hockey commit to Cornell University, decided to sit out the season.
That left a young group to fill the void — a cast that includes juniors Nick Savastano and Peter Giner, freshman Luca Duva, junior Joseph Galea and sophomore Craig Galea.
The girls lacrosse team, which fell in the 2019 state Class B final to Cold Spring Harbor, boasts a roster that includes six D-1 college commits.
Head coach Jess McDonough can roll out a line-up that includes future D-1 players in Mia DiChiara (Cornell), Kate Mercer (Delaware), Caroline Panzirer (Colgate), Ashley Schafer (Brown), Samantha Spieler (Merrimack) and Aidan Summer (Siena).
In Summer, the Wolves are set between the pipes, as they are on defense with Schafer and Spieler joined by Sydney Bieber.
Panzirer will headline a midfield unit that also includes Lily Preis, Shannon Nolan and Georgia Wilmoth. On attack, DiChiara and Mercer are joined by Mia Puccio and Annabel Brennan.
“A big strength of this team is the leadership of the senior class,” McDonough said. “They are doing a great job of supporting the newcomers and helping them reach their potential. It has been a seamless transition because of their leadership.”
She continued, “The players are focused on developing the chemistry and coming together. It has been two years since they have played in a high school game. They understand how important every moment is. “
McDonough added, “This team has such a positive and energetic feeling, you can just tell that they are happy to be there and be with each other. Every day they come ready to work and improve, every player is ready to contribute to the team. One of our team goals is to continue to focus on progress not perfection.”
Head coach Mark Passman has a solid mix of veterans and young talent on his roster this spring.
Seniors Oybek Askarov, Ben Bartley-Cohen and Tim Cronin will supply the leadership to a team that includes juniors Martin Brandwein, Jayson Nagy, Henry Pojednik and Luke Weiser, sophomores Ian Ferman, Jordan Fiderer and Jack Shapiro, freshman Colin Baird-Taylor and eighth-grader Dylan Scott.
Head coach Artie Blank heads into this season with plenty of talent on the golf course.
“There is very little separation between the rest of the team,” Blank said. “Placement in the lineup will be very competitive throughout the season. This is one of the deepest teams I have had.”
He continued, “Our goal is to win our league and try to get into the team sectional tournament — only the top four teams in the section make it — like we did in 2019.”
Blank added, “We also would like to get some of our golfers to qualify for the sectional individual tournament. In 2019 we had four golfers in the finals.”
Topping the list of returners is 2019 All-Section golfer Owen Walsh, a senior.
Also returning are seniors Mike McKeon and Nick DeVincenzo, who have been on the team since freshman year, while the list of newcomers include junior Tyler Wishart, sophomore Nick Holbrook, sophomore Mia Holbrook and senior Aiden Kelly.
“Our team is very appreciative of the opportunity to have a season and compete this year,” Blank said. “We value every time we step on a golf course. It is great to see them back out there smiling and enjoying the camaraderie and competition.”