Manhattan Holds Off St. Francis to End Five-Game Skid

Manhattan still has plenty of fight in it.

Head coach Steve Masiello’s team continues to try to battle its way through a slow start and limited roster. Manhattan showed no panic as it held on for a 71-60 home victory over St. Francis College on Dec. 14 to snap a five-game losing streak.

“We stay with our process,” Masiello said. “We grind it out. We get better everyday. We’re a blue-collar program that rolls our sleeves up. We’re not afraid of adversity.”

An obstacle so far this season for the Jaspers (2-7) has been the lack of depth because of injuries. Against St. Francis (3-7) the team only had seven healthy players. Shane Richards and Thomas Capuano played 37 and 31 minutes respectively.

Manhattan built a 41-27 at halftime, but St. Francis attempted to come back on three separate occasions. It cut the deficit to eight points in the second half. However, Manhattan regained control with less than five minutes to go in regulation as Zane Waterman and RaShawn Stores both notched three-pointers to keep the Jaspers comfortably ahead.

“The first half was kind of slow,” Terriers forward Chris Hooper, who scored 15 points and had eight rebounds, said. “We went in for break and coach told us to pick it up more and trust the offense. Trust what we do on offense. Get the ball inside and play from the inside out. That’s what we did. It picked up a little bit.”

Manhattan, on the other hand, clicked on offense from the beginning. It scored the first seven points of the game, ultimately holding on to the lead the whole game. Tyler Wilson and Rich Williams had key three-pointers each before Capuano hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to close the half, giving the Jaspers the 14-point lead.

“It’s been a common trend for us,” Masiello said. “We do a lot of good things and we do a lot of bad things. I think we improved in some areas defensively. The thing that I’m struggling with is coaching with the lack of depth. You see that with the numbers. I’m happy we got the win, but I thought we made some mistakes.”

Richards led Manhattan with 19 points. He went 5 of 12 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line with eight rebounds and two steals. The Jaspers shot over 55 percent overall and made 8 of 13 three-pointers. Williams added 15 points and seven boards. Waterman notched 13 points and Wilson had a game-high seven assists along with nine points.

“We have to do what it takes to win,” Richards, who played in a more defensive role for Manhattan against St. Francis, said. “If it means me getting rebounds, I have to do it. We rebounded collectively as a group, against a strong offensive rebounding team.”

Antonio Jenifer led St. Francis with a career-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Tyreek Jewell notched 12 points and Yunus Hopkinson had nine.

“Give Manhattan all the credit,” St. Francis coach Glenn Braica said. “They got off a plane from Memphis Sunday and came out and played with great energy, great focus and we didn’t. There are no excuses. We need to learn that you have to play every night. These games happen but we can’t accept them.”

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times

Cardinals Comeback Falls Short in CHSFL ‘AAA’ Championship Game

An emotional two weeks for Cardinal Hayes didn’t end with the joy of a title.

Teammate Delano Cowan died after the team’s quarterfinal win and the Cardinals road the emotion to their first CHSFL ‘AAA’ final. The team captains carried Cowan’s No. 90 jersey onto the field one more time and refused to quit after falling behind 17 points at the half.

Costly mistakes and missed opportunities caused the Cardinals’ comeback to fall short in a 20-12 loss to defending champion Archbishop Stepinac at Fordham University last Saturday night.

“We all felt him,” Hayes receiver Shameen Jones said of Cowan. “When we were down at halftime and came back we all felt that drive, that push, that momentum to get back, but we came up short.”

Down 17-0 at halftime, the Cardinals (8-3) received new life when cornerback Zahir Williams returned an interception for 43 yards. Quarterback Christian Anderson (15 of 29, 193 yards) ran seven yards or a touchdown to put Hayes on the board at 17-6 with 4:22 to go in the third quarter.

“We kept chopping away and made plays,” Hayes coach C.J. O’Neil said. “We had a big defensive turnover that helped and we kept working on it. Eventually it broke through.”

After a 26-yard field goal from Liam Butler made it 20-6, Anderson connected with Jones on a 64-yard reception for a first and goal. Running back Justin Covington, who was held to just 20 yards rushing, finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown to make it 20-12 with 8:47 left in the game. Jones caught five passes for 97 yards.

Momentum was on the Cardinals’ side until a holding penalty eliminated Covington’s 34-yard pass reception into Stepinac territory in the final minutes. Two more flags caused a promising drive to stall and resulted in Hayes punting with 2:30 remaining in the contest. Stepinac (11-0) did not give Hayes another chance.

“As a team, we had a lot of ups and downs,” Jones said. “We lost one of our teammates but we stepped up together as a family. We came out on a five game streak and made it to the championship. It was all for him.”

Stepinac’s offense fed off quarterback Tyquell Fields, who found the end zone from 4 yards out on the opening drive. Running back Antonio Giannico scored on a 4-yard run with three minutes to go in the first quarter to give Stepinac a 14-0 lead.

Anderson was intercepted twice by T.J. Morrison before halftime. The first came at the Crusaders’ 25-yard line and the second at their 11. A 25-yard field goal by Liam Butler in the final seconds of the second quarter made it 17-0 in favor of Stepinac before the Cardinals held them to just three points over the final two frames.

While Hayes was unable to dig out of the hole, it went a long way in its second season up in the top division. It still can end on a winning note against Mount St. Michael in their annual Thanksgiving Day clash.

“We moved from being the eighth seed last year to the second seed this year in the AAA,” Anderson said. “We got here to the championship with an 8-2 record. Getting to the championship in general was a pretty good accomplishment this year.”

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times

Oh Maya: Senior’s Key Goals Sends Bronx Science Back to Final

Maya Greenfield saw her high school career ticking to a close and refused to go down without a fight.

The Bronx Science senior was able distance herself from the Francis Lewis defense in the games final minutes. A wide open Greenfield scored from left field to send the game to overtime before quickly tallying the winner in No. 3-seeded Bronx Science’s improbable 4-3 victory over No. 7 Francis Lewis in the PSAL Class A girls’ soccer semifinals on Randall’s Island Tuesday.

“I was biting my tongue,” Greenfield said as she looked back at scoring her goal. “I was really emotional before because I’m a senior; it would have been my last few minutes. I honestly wanted to take my team there. I looked at my girls and I really wanted to do it for them.”

Greenfield had two goals and two assists and four shots on goal in the game. She has scored six times his post season, but none were bigger than her two against Lewis.

“She came through when we needed her,” Annie Eckstein, Bronx Science head coach, said. “She’s been doing that for us all season. She’s great when she beats people around the corner. She feeds balls in and finishes when we need her to.”

Lewis (14-2-0) opened the scoring on a goal by sophomore Jacklyn Lada. Bronx Science answered when Meleni Rahaman scored off of an assist from Greenfield. Play went back and forth for most of the first half until Rahaman found the back of the net once again to give the Wolverines (14-3-0) a 2-1 lead at halftime.

Samantha Margolis scored in the 58th minute to draw Lewis even at 2-2. Her second goal of the game with a assist from Lada and Melanie Feliz gave the Patriots 3-2 lead in the 68th minute.

“I think we had a little bit of a let down,” Eckstein said. “When they scored to go ahead, it was a great test for us. It wasn’t really one I wanted to have at this point but it was good to see that they stayed with each other.”

It is the second straight year the Wolverines beat Lewis in the semifinals

Bronx Science, which last won the crown in 2012, advances to its four straight championship games to face rival and two-time defending champions Beacon on 3 p.m. Sunday at St. John’s University.

In preparation for the final, the Wolverines are going to look at its last few meeting with the Blue Demons, including two regular season defeats. Greenfield noted how they struggled with finishing. Eckstein said that the team is going to also talk about their last four post season games and focus on key aspects from those.

“I know that we give it our all every practice so we are just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Greenfield said.

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times

Freshman Call-Up Nets Winner for Riverdale

The call up stepped up.

Freshman Julian Burden scored the winner in the 75th minute to give Riverdale a 2-1 home win over Poly Prep in Ivy League boy’s soccer last Friday. He was added to varsity from the JV team just that day.

“It felt great,” he said. “It was a hard game and it felt awesome to score that.”

Riverdale, the defending NYSAISAA champion, opened the game with some strong offensive chances. Two minutes in, sophomore Drew Dworkin scored to give the Falcons a 1–0 lead. Poly Prep, one of the Ivy League’s top programs, then saw a corner kick blocked by Riverdale senior defender Edward Hermann.

It was a back and forth game after that. Poly got a big save from goalkeeper Michael Wirtz on a shot by Dworkin in the 27th minute to help keep the Falcons up just 1-0 at the half.

Early after the break, Poly had a chance to tie it on a corner kick, but Jack Hurkman’s shot went high. The Blue Devils (2-1) finally broke through with a Ben Miles goal with about eight minutes left in the game. Riverdale quickly responded with Burden’s winning goal.

Riverdale (2-0) is coming off of a championship season and head coach Andrew Fitzgerald wants his team to stay healthy and respectful as they try to win consecutive crowns.

“We know what we did last year,” he said. “Obviously we can’t repeat that, but we have a lot of mature student athletes on our team. We not only would want to be the best team in the league but we want to be the most respected, that was one of our goals.”

After losing key seniors from last year’s squad, Riverdale is rebuilding the roster around a core group of eight returning starters. It helped to have 70 players try out for the team.

“I expect guys to step up and fill in, but bring up the young guys at the same time,” Fitzgerald said. “We are still trying to figure out who we have.”

The Falcons added 10 players with half of them being freshmen. They are also preparing for the future, knowing that they are going to lose a lot of seniors after this season. One freshman paid big dividends against Poly.

“Our JV team is strong,” Fitzgerald said. “We were able to bring up a striker and he scored the game winner. It’s pretty unheard of.”

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times

Covington, Defense Lead Hayes to First CHSFL Win

On a day when running back Justin Covington and the Cardinal Hayes offense shined throughout the game, the defense needed to finish the job.

The unit ended Monsignor Farrell’s comeback attempt when Lucas Nunez intercepted a Hail Mary pass with 13 seconds to play at the Hayes 15-yard line. It secured a 20-14 Cardinals win over the Lions in CHSFL play last Saturday afternoon at The Rooftop.

“Any win is a good win,” Hayes head coach CJ O’Neil said. “We would have liked to play a lot better, a lot cleaner. Sometimes emotion gets the best of us like it did today. We were in a tough fight with a very good football team. We pulled it out in the end.”

The guy who put his team in position to win was running back Justin Covington. In the opening minute of the game, he caught a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Anderson.

It was the start of a three-touchdown game for the senior who rushed for 172 yards on 10 carries. Covington scored again early in the second quarter as he ran 82 yards to the end zone to give Hayes 14-0 lead.

“It was good blocking by the offensive line,” Covington said. “Once I got the ball, they let me take off.”

Two Cardinal turnovers allowed Farrell to hang around in the game. The teams also exchanged interceptions and turnovers throughout. Another issue for the Cardinals was penalties. O’Neill said the team needs to stay focused no matter what happens.

“Our problem is sometimes we have to compete with ourselves,” he said. “When we compete with ourselves, that’s sometimes our hardest opponent. Hopefully we grow and get better from this.”

On their first possession of the second half, Farrell quarterback Michael Cloppse notched a 2-yard run into the end zone to make it 14-7. Hayes (2-0, 1-0) responded about a minute later with Covington scoring his third touchdown of the game on a 70-yard run to make it 20-7 with 7:13 to go in the third.

Farrell (1-1, 0-1) kept coming. A wide-open Joe Schmidt caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Cloppse to bring Farrell within 20-14 with 8:12 remained in the game. The Hayes defense responded by creating three turnovers in the final 3:00.

“Defense played great,” Covington said. “They shut them down to 14 points. They gave us the ball back and let us score. They played great.”

Defensive lineman Terrell Alexander got in the middle of a pass from Cloppse and intercepted it with 3:12 left in the game and defensive back Shameen Jones caught another critical turnover in the game before Nunez’s pick to seal it.

“Hands down, those guys made some exceptional individual efforts,” O’Neill said. “That saved us more than anything.”

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times

Reloading Riverdale Adapting to New Roles

Defending Ivy League champion Riverdale knows there will be growing pains as it reloads after graduating a senior class that reached consecutive state title games.

The Falcons fell 3-0 to Dalton in its Ivy League girls’ soccer opener last Friday on Randall’s Island.

“It’s always tough to start out like this,” first-half goalie Gabrielle Maffezzoli said. “I told my team that we just need to keep in mind that this is the first game. We have a whole season to go.

Most of the first half was spent in Riverdale’s zone. The Falcons gave up a corner kick and three shots, with one resulting in a goal, but they were able to notch three shots of their own as well.

Reiterating that it was just the first game, Leah Moore, who was in goal for the second half, said that this year’s group is starting to come together.

“We are trying to work out being a new team and I think we are well on our way,” she said.

Dalton made it a 2-0 early in the second half with a goal on a breakaway after Riverdale turned aside it two previous attempts.

Riverdale played most of the second half without one of its top returning players – midfielder Julia Hyman. She left the game early in the half and did not go back in.

The Falcons continued to fight back with Maya Dubin, Molly Fallek and Natasha Lowitt leading the way. It wasn’t enough as Dalton sealed the win with a late goal. However, Riverdale refuses to be discouraged.

“With time, we are going to keep learning how to play better with each other,” Maffezzoli said. “We are taking it one game at a time and we keep fighting.”

Despite the loss, head coach Orlando Osorio saw some important positives to take from the game. There were certain areas where the team was connecting. He emphasized that there were spots of great decision-making and passing. One aspect that he said does need work is their transition on offense from the midfield to the forwards.

The Tigers’ defense was tough to get past for most of the game. They won many battles getting to the ball first and caused the Falcons to play defense for a majority of the game. However, playing a team at Dalton’s level will only help the Falcons prepare for the rest of the season.

“Dalton has some very strong, very physical players,” Osorio said. “They have a very fast player up front that stretches our defense a lot. They have a marvelous player in the middle that is a huge force. It demands us to run faster, anticipate more and even become more physical.”

Riverdale is coming off of an impressive season last year. It went 17-2-1 and lost on penalty kicks in the NYSAIS final. They lost a core group of seniors, including forward Amaris Hemmings and goalie Jennifer Kronish and are still adjusting to life without them.

“We don’t have the same depth that we had last year,” Osorio said. “But our goal is to have a winning season nonetheless and to be one of the top teams in the Ivy.”

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times