Varada Nets 4, Leads Hen Hud to 1st Section 1 Lax Title

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By Tony Pinciaro

Following a successful 2019 season, HENDRICK HUDSON Coach Rob Molfetta thought 2020 would be the year the Sailors would win their first Section 1 girls’ lacrosse title.

That all changed when COVID cancelled the 2020 New York State high school sports’ spring season. As a result, All-Section senior M Kira Varada and her teammates had to wait an additional year to get back on the field.When they did, the final result made it worth the wait.

Led by Varada’s four goals, No.4 Hen Hud overcame No.3 Tappan Zee, 12-9, to win the Section 1 Class C title last Saturday. It is the first sectional lacrosse title in the program’s history.

It’s also Varada’s second sectional title. She was an intrical member of the 2020 Section 1 Class A basketball team that beat Harrison in the final. The winter state championships were then cancelled when schools shut down in March 2020 because of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, our spring season last year was taken away from us by covid so this year we wanted to win, not only for us, but for the seniors who didn’t get the chance to play their last season with us,” said Varada, who will attend Iona in the fall and also play lacrosse after one of the finest, if not finest, three-sport careers in Sailor history. “Honestly, we were just excited to have a season in the beginning. The goal was to win sectionals, but we first wanted to see how we did against the competition in the regular season. We played some of the best teams and competed with them, which made us realize our potential for sectionals.”

Hen Hud, which finished with a 13-4 record, marched through sectionals, including an emphatic 18-0 semifinal win over top-seeded Sleepy Hollow. Varada had a team-leading six goals. Claire Popolizio scored five goals and Fiona McGovern added four to finish her career with 244 points.

After pitching a shutout of Sleepy Hollow, Tappan Zee managed one goal in the first half as Hen Hud led 5-1.

“The team played great defense, led by Colleen Ryan and Gigi Deak,” Molfetta said. “We had that lead at half because of our defensive pressure on Tappan Zee. The win was a total team effort from all the players and they followed the game plan perfectly. Tappan Zee team is a very good team and they made a great comeback but we were able to withstand their effort.”

Paige Montgomery, Popolizio and McGovern each had two goals and an assist and Katie Bell netted two goals in the final. Varada also had seven draw-controls and Ryan had four.

Hen Hud’s Claire Popolizio fights for a loose ball in what was a physical championship game against Tappan Zee.

Like many of the student-athletes, especially the seniors, they were very happy to be playing this spring and also have a sectional tournament. Once the horn sounded ending the final, Varada and her teammates celebrated.

“I’ve been playing with most of these girls since I started so I was grateful to finish with them by my side,” said Varada, the school’s all-time leading scorer in lacrosse (227 goals, 277 points) and single-season goal scorer in soccer. “It was a bittersweet moment. After four years of constant battle for this title we finally got it. However, it was also the last time I would play with this team and be coached by this staff. I will always remember this day and cherish it because of the people who always supported us and pushed us to that title.”

Molfetta, a skillful former backup goalie to All-American Brian “Pickles” Carcaterra at Yorktown, is happy for his team, especially his seniors.

“This sectional title is very rewarding because it is the third time we were there in the last five years and the first win,” Molfetta said. “Some of the girls have been on varsity four and five years so this is a culmination of all their hard work. They built this program through their dedication and hard work and they were rewarded with the first girls’ lacrosse sectional title in school history. I am so proud of them and this accomplishment.”

Molfetta credited his longest-tenured seniors — Varada and McGovern — for their impact.

“Kira is an unbelievable player who can dominate a game in all three areas of the field — the draw circle, offensively and defensively,” Molfetta said. “Kira is the engine that makes us go and she was laser focused this year to win the sectional title. She also has a great group of players around her.

“Fiona McGovern is another senior who, like Kira, has been on varsity for five years. She is the quarterback of our offense and makes all the right decisions on the offensive end. These two players helped build this program and are a huge part of our success over the last few years.”

Varada graduates from Hen Hud as one of the most impactful players in the girls’ lacrosse program history. She is taking her talents to Iona where she will be joined by soon-to-be Ossining graduate Kacie Scarduzio.

“I am beyond excited and I know Kacie is too,” Varada said. “Starting a new chapter in not only my life but also my lacrosse career is exhilarating. I am also thrilled to be coached by Coach (Lauren) Kahn! She has been extremely supportive and amazing throughout my season and I am looking forward to furthering my career as a Gael.”

Somers’ Ella Kittredge makes her move while Yorktown’s Grace Pearce defends in Tuskers’ semifinal win.

No.1 SOMERS beat John Jay-Cross River by one goal during the regular season, but the second-seeded Wolves had the final say in the Section 1 Class B championship game Saturday.

John Jay defeated Somers, 14-9 to win the title and the Wolves did something not many teams can boast. The Wolves held Somers’ leading scorer and Columbia-bound Noelle DeMarinis without a point.

“After beating them in the regular season we knew they were out for revenge,” said Holy Cross-bound Ella Kittredge, who had five goals. “They were very strong on defense and were able to take away many of our offensive opportunities.”

Somers’ Coach Debbie Daly pointed to the second half as the difference in the game.

“Somers had great control in the first half, but in the second half John Jay dominated the draw and took advantage of every opportunity they had,” Daly said. “ It was a hard-fought game by both teams. John Jay shared the ball and every player contributed. Congrats to them on a well-played game.”

Even though Kittredge and her classmates are graduating, she knows Somers will be contending, once again, for a sectional title in 2022.

“Despite the final result, I could not be more proud of what our team was able to accomplish,” Kittredge said. “Just getting the opportunity to play this year was an amazing experience. Somers’ varsity lacrosse has such a bright future and I can’t wait to watch them succeed.”

Ironically, Somers advanced to the final with a 10-8 victory over YORKTOWN in the semifinals. No.4 Yorktown beat Somers during the regular season.

Kittredge finished with four goals, Teagan Ryan added two goals and three assists and Lauren McCartin had two goals and an assist.

Alexa Borges led Yorktown with a hat trick. Husker sophomore Alex Scialdone added two goals and an assist and Sophia Spallone contributed two goals.

BYRAM HILLS had an outstanding season, reaching the Section 1 Class C semifinals only to be denied a title-gameberth by Tappan Zee. The Bobcats finished with a 13-4 record, highlighted by senior Lily Ceisler’s record-breaking season.

In the Bobcats’ 18-12 quarterfinal win over Nanuet, Ceisler became the single-season scoring leader. Ceisler scored five goals and added three assists, giving her 116 points this season. This eclipsed the mark of 108 points by Sarah Gutstein set in 1986.

OSSINING senior Kacie Scarduzio returned to the field after a major knee injury robbed her of her sophomore year, then covid denied her the 2020 spring sports’ season.

Scarduzio proved she was still the elite scorer she was in her first two varsity seasons, finishing her career with 162 goals and 27 assists.

“Kacie had a great year leading our team on and off the field,” Ossining Coach Patrick Wheeler said. “She worked tirelessly to support her teammates and help put them in positions to be successful. It is going to be a difficult task to attempt to fill all of the holes left by her and our other graduating seniors.”

Ray Gallagher contributed to this story.

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