The ground is barely thawed but it already seems like its business as usual for Rye. If thats the case, the rest of Section 1 Class C could once again be playing for second.
Ryes season ended rather unceremoniously last June with a 7-1 state semifinal loss to Mount Sinai. The Garnets then lost some key players to graduation.
But Brian Dooley, who shares the coaching responsibilities with his brother, Scott, doesnt seem overly concerned about much heading into the 2009 season.
For a good and often overlooked reason.
Rye is a defense-first outfit, one that doesnt necessarily need to rip twine 10-15 times a game to be successful and strike fear into the hearts of its opponents. The Garnets return arguably the best long stick in the section in Donald Keough and have three other players, middies Cole McCormack and Patrick OCallaghan, and attackman Rob Santangelo, that will be counted on to provide leadership both on and off the field.
When asked if this years Rye team will be more of what were used to seeing, as in a sectional championship-worthy squad, Dooley said, Id like to think so. We have a good handful of seniors and juniors, and some sophomores who will be looking to contribute as well.
Our guys worked very hard in the offseason, so we view ourselves as a team that not only wants to get better (during the preseason), but also over the next three months. Our ultimate goal is to win a state championship, of course, but realistically wed first like to make the playoffs, repeat as Section I champs and then, ultimately, get off the Island.
Ryes players got their first taste of what 2009 will be like with a five-team round-robin scrimmage at Briarcliff this past weekend against Montclair, N.J., Briarcliff, Hen Hud, Harrison and Horace Greeley.
Dooley, a 1996 graduate of Yorktown who played collegiately at SUNY Oneonta, said much of it went as he expected, but also added he was pleasantly surprised at some things and realized pretty quickly that theres just so much the coaching staff can teach and the players can master in just two weeks of practice.
We improved a bit from game to game, Dooley said, adding he wasnt concerned with final scores, something that many fans tend to get caught up in during the preseason. We were able to give a lot of kids a lot of playing time, which was nice. We learned a lot about things we need to improve on.
Weve been working a lot on our stick work, but everyone is doing the same things every day in practice for 2-3 hours. We need to make the most of our time and look forward to the challenge like everyone else out there.
With playing at Rye comes high expectations, but Dooley doesnt want his players to overlook the real reasons why they strap on their helmets and pads each day.
We need to play consistently as a good, four-quarter lacrosse team, and not overlook anyone. The way we play, we will not be a team that will ever win by a large margin. Were certainly a 48-minute operation. Of the 16 games on our schedule, we need to play a solid 48 minutes each time out.
And that starts almost immediately. Rye has two more scrimmages before getting thrown to the wolves to start the regular season. The Garnets will travel to Greenwich for a scrimmage on Wednesday and then host Westminster School on Saturday before diving into a hellacious three-game start to 09 against traditional powers Yorktown and John Jay, and the newest team to get everyone’s heart racing more than it should, Iona Prep.
Were hoping to be somewhat competitive in those three games, Dooley said, adding that against Yorktown, If we dont play a complete 48 minutes, we wont be on the field with them.
And although Rye is now a name brand state-wide, Dooley said hes just as concerned about what Class C has to offer in Section I as he is with what the Manhassets, Cold Spring Harbors and Mount Sinais of the world bring to the table.
Put Valley was mostly all juniors last year and theyll definitely be solid. Byram Hills will be extremely athletic. We do not play Pleasantville, but they are always there and you cant rule out Bronxville either, Dooley said.
So, at the end of the day, does Dooley like his chances?
Im cautiously and conservatively optimistic, he said.
Spoken like a man whos been through the wars, always with his head on a swivel.
Posted In: Uncategorized