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John Jay Wins Again


By Chuck Slater

John Jay’s surprising baseball team survived a first-inning scare, then cruised to a 7-1 victory over Section 4’s Maine-Endwell in Binghamton on Monday, June 3 to reach the regional finals.  The Indians face Section 9’s Cornwell Tuesday night, June 4, in Fishkill, the winner advancing to the state semifinals./

The scare, however, had nothing to do with the scoring.  Sophomore second baseman Ronnie Correli was knocked unconscious in a first-inning collision and had to be hospitalized.  Soon he was fine , however.

And so was his team.  The Section 1 titlists, though concerned, broke open the game with a four-run second inning and Alec Brown yielded just five hits and a run over six innings.  Sophomore Jack Weiller went 3-for-4 with two walks.

“The kids were resilient,” said Coach Geoff Curtis.

June 4, 2013 |

John Jay Surprises in Baseball


By Chuck Slater

At the start of the first game of a very promising baseball season for John Jay a couple of months ago, senior pitching ace Will Jahn went down with a season-ending labrum injury to his pitching arm requiring surgery.

“At that moment I didn’t think much of our chances for being sectional champions,” recalled Geoff Curtis, the very successful Indians coach.

Yet on Friday, May 31, sixth-seeded John Jay became exactly that, sweating out a 2-1 Class A sectional title-game victory over fourth-seeded Beacon at Provident Bank Park. Curtis’ surprising crew next faces Maine-Endwell at Union Endicott High School on Monday, June 3, in a regional semifinal. It is the only local team to win sectionals.

“Even without Will we had pitching depth,” said Curtis. Indeed, Sam Milnes (twice) and Alec Brown, both seniors, had won John Jay’s first three sectional games and Curtis still had senior Trevor Filacchione for the title game. He delivered 5 2/3 shutout innings while allowing just four hits to a team that had scored 29 runs in its first three playoff games and beaten the Indians by 10-2 during the regular season.

But with two out in the seventh, Beacon got runners on the corners with two outs. Curtis called on Milnes, who before the game had told the coach he could get him an out or two.   After giving up a run-scoring single, Milnes got the final out.

The Indians (16-8) won with only two hits. Jack Weiller’s single plating the game’s first run. “All season,” Curtis said, “we’ve won with timely hitting, strong pitching and an incredibly improved defense.”

June 3, 2013 |

John Jay & Putnam Valley Win Regional Championships


By Chuck Slater

The two local girls lacrosse teams still in action both took their regional championships and advanced to the semifinals of state competition on Saturday, June 1.  And they did so with the most one-sided scores they have hung up in the post-season.

John Jay thumped Section 9 champion Saugerties, 20-2, for the Class B regional crown, then Putnam Valley took home the C title, 10-4, also against a Section 9 foe, Red Hook, 10-4, at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.

The Tigers had won their previous five tournament matches by a total of nine goals.  “This shows how tough the competition in Section 1 and in our league really is,” said Putnam Valley coach Kurt Worell.

Indeed, John Jay’s romp suggests its toughest foe may have been the top-seeded Yorktown squad it edged, 12-10, in the sectional final.

“This was a team effort,” coach Christina Smith said of her Indians.  “We practiced very hard.  It showed.”

“I can’t believe all our hard work has paid off,” said senior Delaney Spencer, who had four goals in the romp. (more…)

June 3, 2013 |

Yorktown Lacrosse Loses Late


By Chuck Slater

Yorktown went into its regional game in Albany on Thursday, May 30, ranked sixth nationally among high school lacrosse teams. But its opponent, Section 2’s Niskayuna, came in ranked second.  So the result was not a  big surprise: Niskayuna rallied for a 13-11 victory after trailing for most of the first three quarters.

“The breaks didn’t go our way,” said Dave Marr, coach of the Section 1 champions.

The Huskers took an early 6-3 edge and were still leading, 10-9, after the third period.  But the Section 2 champions got two goals early in the fourth quarter before Brian Prestreau scored his team-high fourth goal for Yorktown to knot the score.  However,  Niskayuna then scored twice in the last five and one-half minutes.

“The boys tried hard,” Marr said, “but in the end they were outplayed.”

May 31, 2013 |

Lang Scores 8 to Lead John Jay


By Chuck Slater

Senior Sarah Lang has long been a lacrosse standout – her total of 164 goals is the fourth most in John Jay Cross River’s career annals.  And on Wednesday, May 29, she picked the perfect time to score eight goals in one game to lead the Indians to the Class B regional final with a 19-14 victory over Section 2’s Burnt Hills at Fox Lane High School..

Later on the Fox Lane turf, Putnam Valley, a section champion for the first time, advanced to the Class C regional final with a 12-11 squeaker over Albany Academy.

The local boys team in regional play, nationally ranked Yorktown, had its Class B match with Niskayuna, also nationally ranked, in Albany postponed by a thunderstorm.  Hopefully, the two powerhouses will have their showdown on Thursday, May 30.

“Absolutely amazing,” said Lang, referring to John Jay’s success.  “So exciting,” said coach Christine Smith who in her second year at the helm has taken her team to its first sectional title since 1993 and now the regional final.   “The girls deserve it.”

The Cross River girls next face Saugerties in the regional final Saturday in Kingston.

John Jay actually trailed by 10-6 halftime before dominating the second session as Lang scored six of her eight goals.  “No,” she said with a laugh, “I’ve never scored eight goals before.”

“It took a while to adjust to Burnt Hills’ aggressive play,” added Lang, an attack who has a scholarship to the University of Vermont ahead of her.  “But we seniors realized we could be facing our last half in high school if we didn’t pick it up.”

And, led by Lang, pick it up they did.

Putnam Valley next faces Section 9’s Red Hook on Saturday in Kingston.  The Tigers, however, had to hold on after taking a 12-6 lead.

“I know we are going to go all the way,” said Putnam Valley’s Mel Wagner, who had five goals.

May 30, 2013 |

Big Victory for Morales


By Chuck Slater

A year ago at this time, Nicole Morales, the precocious young golfer from South Salem, finished 22nd in the prestigious Thunderbird International Junior Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz. “I put too much pressure on myself,” she said then. “I’ll do better next time.”

Did she ever. On Monday, May 27, she won the three-round event, closing with a 69 for a 5-under-par 211. “I was in the right frame of mind,” she said after the most significant victory of her illustrious young career.

Morales, who left the John Jay boys golf team to concentrate on major junior women’s events, drained a 35-foot putt on the final hole to win by a stroke. “My putter was on fire,” she said.

Next up for Morales: trying to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open in New Jersey on Thursday, May 30. It is her 17th birthday.

May 29, 2013 |

Panas Volleyball Star Burcescu Headed to Northeastern U.



The search is over, the long year of recruiting finished. Brigitte Burcescu has chosen to continue her brilliant volleyball career at Northeastern University following her senior season at Panas.

As a junior, Burcescu was clearly the area’s premier volleyball player. The 6’1″ outside hitter captained and led Panas to a 20-5 record as well as its first sectional and regional championship. She also made first team all-state.

“She’s made an excellent choice,” Panas coach Joe Felipe said of the Boston university. “It’s somewhere she can make an impact.

“Northeastern has a strong volleyball program but, even more important to Brigitte, it is very strong academically.”

The highly-sought Burcescu considered myriad collegiate suitors — including Georgia Tech, Lehigh, Colgate and Delaware — before choosing the Huskies. Last season, she rewrote school records for kills in a single match (36) and a season (526). In both cases, she erased marks of her older sister Vivian, who started as a freshman for the University of Virginia this past season.

Having her college decision in the rear-view mirror is a comfort, the younger Burcescu said. “But I’m just going to work harder” to be prepared for the first year of college, she added.

“She’s outstanding as a player and a person,” Felipe said.

April 30, 2013 |
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