COVID-willing, the winter high school sports slate gets underway this week, with local school districts gearing up for the season as the echoes of a successful autumn ring through the cold Catskills. A mostly outdoor run of fall sports will soon give way to a mostly indoor season, and the first full schedule since before the pandemic.
But first, a look back at autumn, where the virus that’s recently begun spiking in the Hudson Valley again did little to disrupt local varsity sports. School officials credit safety protocols that helped keep even contact sports like football running smoothly.
In Kingston, fall success is routinely exemplified by its varsity field hockey team, which in 2021 won its 14th straight Section 9, Class A championship and finished the season with an 11-3 overall record. The title game saw the Tigers in dominant form, rolling over Pine Bush 6-0 in Kyserike on Thursday, October 28. Emily Beichert scored a goal in both the third and fourth quarters to lead Kingston in the sectional win, with Adelaide Finley (goal, assist), Niara Franklin (goal), Keeley Savona (goal) and Hannah Timbrouck (goal) also scoring. Kara Houston didn’t’t have to make a single save in goal to keep a clean sheet for Kingston.
Two local schools — New Paltz and Saugerties — saw excellent seasons from their varsity girls’ soccer teams, with the Huguenots appearing in their first Section 9, Class B final in 17 years. New Paltz fell 1-0 to James I’ O’Neill in the final, played at Faller Field in Middletown on Saturday, October 30, but their semifinal 4-2 win over top-seeded Red Hook at Bard College in Annandale two days earlier saw them at their very best.
In the Red Hook win, Fiona O’Hara scored a hat trick to lead the Huguenots, with Nyah Cunniff (goal, assist) and Melanie Kniffen (2 assists) also contributing offensively. They finished their season with a 13-5 record.
Saugerties High’s girls’ varsity soccer team also made their respective sectional final after making a wild run through the Section 9, Class A playoffs. Their season came to an end in the title game, a 4-1 defeat against Minisink Valley at Faller Field in Middletown on Thursday, October 28.
The Sawyers untied a nil-nil knot in the 22nd minute when Makenzie Below converted a penalty kick, but the Warriors came back to tie off a Jazmin Mejia goal with two minutes remaining in the half. Minisink scored three goals down the stretch to earn the title win.
Saugerties advanced to the championship one day earlier, ousting top-seeded Washingtonville 3-1 in a semifinal battle at Milton. Below scored a brace in the second half to lead the Sawyers, while Ashlynn DeRonda scored a goal and assisted on another.
The Sawyers also saw success in girls’ tennis this season, with the doubles tandem of Mehal Mitra and Amy Hoyt taking gold as a wildcard team in the Mid-Hudson Athletic League tennis championships.
Mitra and Hoyt swept both Wallkill’s Lillie Jaffee and Kaleigh Flanagan and Marlboro’s Lindsay Stelling and Gianna Barbero 6-0, 6-0 in early rounds on Tuesday, October 12. The following day the duo dispatched top-seeded Mackenzie Mason and Rebecca Ness of Highland (6-1, 6-2) in the semifinals, then outlasted Marlboro’s Sydney Sladicks and Ava Del Salto (6-3, 7-5) in the title match.
Onteora High joined New Paltz at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association cross country championships at Chenango Valley State Park on Saturday, November 13. Eagles junior Trapper VanDreason placed 64th with a time of 18:31.70 in the boys’ Class C race. His teammate Mike McCutcheon, a senior, finished in 105th place in 19:47.80.
Onteora’s Rachel Williams placed 120th in the Class C girls’ race, finishing in 24:51.30. Kingston High School senior Luca Maneri placed 57th in the Class A boys’ race with a time of 17:28.20; Maneri was the sole local runner in the Class A race.
In the girls’ Class B race, New Paltz High School senior Ella Urrico placed 85th with a time of 22:15.80.
Local schools also had successful boys’ golf seasons, with Ben Fox of Saugerties High School carding a 3-over-par 74 at Apple Greens in Highland on Tuesday, October 19, winning the Mid-Hudson Athletic League individual tourney.
Onteora’s John Goodermote placed third with a 79, while Oliver Watson (New Paltz, T-5th, 82), Loyal Goodermote (New Paltz, T-5th, 82), Stephen Carr (New Paltz, 12th, 84), Domenico Mazzella (New Paltz, 15th, 88), Adam Grady (Onteora, 16th, 89), Manny Markmann (New Paltz, T-20th, 91) and Aero Ferrendino (Saugerties, T-20th, 91) all qualified for the New York State Tournament to be held in May 2022.
Local non-qualifiers included Avery Burns (Onteora, 92), Cameron France (Saugerties, 93) and Harry Bubel (Saugerties, 103).
New Paltz High also had a splendid varsity volleyball season, finishing 13-4, including an appearance in the Class B regional final in mid-November, where they were swept by Section I powerhouse Hendrick Hudson, who improved to a perfect 25-0.
The Huguenots were fresh off a sweep of top-seeded Spackenkill in the Section 9, Class B championship held at West Point on Sunday, November 7, winning 25-22, 25-19, 25-14.
In that victory, New Paltz was led by Francheska Geminiano (18 kills, 7 blocks, 2 aces), Esve Mullins (25 assists, 8 aces, 5 digs, kill), Lily Sturgis (7 kills) and Jena Russo (4 aces, 3 kills).