SPRINGFIELD, M.A.— Yorktown and Mahopac make up one of the best rivalries in all of Section 1 regardless of the sport.
From local hangouts to Twitter, Yorktown’s “The Crop” and Mahopac’s “Maniacs” will argue till dawn as to whose fans are the best in the section.
Thus, one may think it had to be strange for 2012 Yorktown graduates Heather Raniolo, a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) First-Team All-Conference selection, Bianca Raniolo, Second-Team All-Conference, and 2013 Mahopac graduate Gabby Anderson, First-Team All-Conference, to play and thrive on the same women’s lacrosse squad like they have at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Despite being from rival schools, a lack of chemistry has not been the case. It has been quite the opposite as a matter of fact.
“Honestly it wasn’t weird for me and that may be due to the fact that I only played defense in high school, so I never had to go against Gab,” Heather Raniolo said. “Obviously Mahopac was a rival school that we played against, so Gabs and I made some jokes along the way, but once she joined the team she became family and that rivalry faded away. She was a great goalie in high school and I was happy that she decided to play at Springfield College. Gabby became a good friend and sister to me.”
The trio has helped Springfield enjoy an historic season. They were each part of the first women’s lacrosse team at Springfield to make the Sweet 16, win a school record 16 games in a 16-6 campaign, and were ranked 10th in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Division III’s final rankings.
“As a team we were really fortunate to have an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament let alone the Sweet 16 because we know that not every team gets the chance to do so,” Anderson said. “The team worked really hard in the off season and during the regular season so being in the Top 10 just shows that our hard work paid off.”
On her end, Anderson is glad she came together with Heather and Bianca.
“It’s great that the three of us came from rival lacrosse programs and now work so well together on the field while also representing Section 1,” said Anderson, who did her overnight at Springfield with Heather. “They are two of the best athletes that I have ever had the opportunity to play with and it’s great that we are able to joke about going from rivals to teammates.”
“It honestly wasn’t strange at all when I started playing with Gabby Anderson,” Bianca said. “I knew of her from high school and remembered that she was an awesome goalie, so I was excited to get to know her personally and get better from shooting on her. I am very close with Gab now and it is nice that we can reminisce on high school days.”
Speaking of high school days, while the Raniolos, who both played attack at Springfield, each went to the same high-school, college and share a last name, they are not actually related even though so many think they are.
That includes an unsuspecting official who Heather decided to some have fun with during one game.
“Now over the loud speaker, the music starts playing and the announcer calls, ‘Goal scored by Heather Raniolo and was assisted by Bianca Raniolo,’” Heather said. “I took the draws for Springfield, so I went up to take a draw and as we’re setting up the ref said, ‘That must be awesome to play with your sister?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it’s honestly so great.’”
Even though they are not related, one of the reasons why they consider themselves “sisters” on the field is because they grew up and have been playing sports together since they were little according to Bianca.
“I know her style of play and she knows mine, so we were able to communicate without actually talking on the field and we were able to read each other since we have those years of experience together,” Bianca said. “We have a bond that is very noticeable on the field.”