In upcoming weeks, Mahopac News will talk to Mahopac High School senior student-athletes about the possibility of missing their final spring school and sports seasons, their hopes and disappointments for what would have been the last time playing sports for many.
MAHOPAC, N.Y. – Mahopac girls lacrosse team captain and fourth-year midfielder, Alexa Rispoli, remembers the moment it started to sink in.
“It became real to me the last day of practice before this quarantine,” Rispoli said. “As soon as we heard we were off from school, and they were thinking about ending the season. We all began crying in the beginning of practice. All I was thinking about was how hard we’ve been working off season, and how we had a strong chance to go far. But now we don’t even get the opportunity, and if the season ended, I would never be playing on Mahopac turf again.”
Rispoli’s comments were echoed by most of her senior teammates, and many of them—along with coach Jim Lieto—remain hopeful they will play some games this spring.
“I still do have so much hope that our 2020 season will be saved,” said Christina Lopreato, an All-Section team captain and fourth-year midfielder. “The support our team gets from our coaches, teammates, parents, athletic director, and our school in general is amazing. They encourage us every day not to lose hope.”
Sophia DeFrancesco, a captain and third-year attacker, said, “I believe Section 1, Mr. (AD Frank) Miele, and my coaches will do everything they can to salvage the season,” said DeFranceso, an All-Section Honorable Mention pick a year ago. “We would have only played (a few games), so there is certainly room for some optimism that we can still play a good number of games.”
Others see the window for playing games shrinking. On Monday, New York State announced schools would remain closed until at least April 29.
“I was very hopeful, but every week it seems that we’re being told we’ll be home even longer,” attacker Madison Ward said. “Our team is still working, hoping we can get back on the field for whatever little chances we have left. We’re trying to keep it as positive as we can because that’s all we can do right now. Even though we can’t see each other in person we still get in our team bonding moments by doing Google meets three days a week to work out together.”
Two-year attacker, Samantha Faeth, agreed.
“I have a feeling it’s too late,” Faeth said. “But as frustrated as I am, I know I still have my teammates to count on, both on and off the field. Even if we don’t have a season this year, I have no doubt that my teammates and I will get together when quarantine is over, and we’ll still practice and play our own games and just have fun together.”
The Indians surely were hopeful heading into the 2020 season, coming off a 13-5 season that saw them reach the sectional semifinals. With 11 seniors returning, including several, Mahopac had title aspirations.
“We have a very experienced lineup back, and they were confident and ready,” Lieto said. “The hope was that we could get to the final. We set high goals—to compete for a championship. Hopes were high.
“If we can’t play, they’re all such amazing kids, but I really feel for the seniors,” Lieto added. “But they all love being with each other, they all just want to be around the other girls. And our senior leaders really understand that. They’re amazing human beings, and amazing leaders. To lose all of that would be so difficult.”
The feeling among the players is that this season had the potential to be something special.
“This season was it, it was Mahopac’s season,” Lopreato said. “Right off the bat during preseason, our team just felt whole. I believe in each and every girl on the team, that us girls together could make it as far as we push ourselves. I’m most disappointed in missing out on the memories we lost. The team bonding, the bus rides, hyping each other up in warmups, holding hands with the team during the national anthem, all those little things made the season even sweeter along with victories.”
Olivia Conlin, third-year midfielder, said the situation is surreal.
“The hardest part is that this is affecting everybody on so many levels,” Conlin said. “Life just seems different. It is difficult to imagine this situation; two weeks ago I was focused on the senior prom, and now I take classes online. We have to make smart choices and social distance from friends and loved ones.”
Caitlyn Reilly, fourth-year midfielder, added, “The hardest part is not knowing what is happening, and having no control. No one knows how long it will last.”
Kate Kasparian, fourth-year midfielder, agreed.
“The hardest part of this whole situation is how quickly everything changed,” Kasparian said. “And no one really has any answers to when it will go back to normal.”
Third-year goalie, Megan Citarella, said what is on the minds of many.
“I think he hardest part, if this ends, would be having to say goodbye to my teammates and coaches,” Citarella said. “And not being able to play with them one last time.”
While staying healthy is the top priority on the minds of all, senior athletes are learning a new appreciation for family and friends.
“The only silver lining of this whole situation is that I get to see my family more,” said Kira Dobbs, two-year varsity attacker. “My dogs are really happy with us all being home. Other than that, I just want to go back to my life before this.”
Many players said they now have a greater appreciation for everything.
“It’s just not the same throwing the ball against the rebounder, dodging with cones, and shooting on an old hockey net in my garage,” Lopreato said. “I miss being out there, and it breaks my heart every day that I can’t do anything about it.”
Lindsay Neilis, three-year attacker, added, “I definitely learned to appreciate the things that are important to me while I still have them. Every year, the seniors tell us how fast it goes by and to take advantage of every moment, but I never truly understood what they meant until now.”
“I never thought I would say this, but I really miss school,” Faeth said. “I miss being able to play lacrosse and being able to hang out with my friends. I miss being able to go out all the time without having to worry about getting sick or getting others sick.”
Some seniors will be lucky enough to play sports in college; others won’t play again if they don’t get to play this spring. But all of them agreed when asked about what their senior dream season would’ve looked like: championship.
Neilis: “My dream senior season would definitely be to win our league and the section and, of course, beat Mamaroneck once or twice. I think that if we’re given the opportunity it could definitely be done.”
Ward: “After the first game, we learn and adjust. Then we continue to play on, winning game after game. The other teams’ coaches warn them about us. We become unstoppable, with the best team bond. We go on to win the championship game. The buzzer goes off and we flood the field with so much joy… jumping into each other’s arms. Then we get on the bus and celebrate more, knowing we got the chance to play lacrosse together.”
Conlin: “To win the championship together would be a perfect end to the season. I’d want it to last as long as possible.”
DeFrancesco: “My dream season would be to go undefeated and go far in sectionals. I’d love to see the younger players continue to develop, and become an integral part of our team, so when the seniors pass the torch on to them, they will continue having success.”T
Rispoli said what every spring athlete in the section is likely thinking.
“My dream season would be just being able to get on the field,” she said.
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