By Mike Dougherty
The first 97 goals were easy.
Coaxing the next three in and getting to a nice round number could prove tricky for Rose Rather, who fears it’s becoming a distraction. It’s a noteworthy achievement for the senior forward from the Rye Country Day School, even with the strings attached.
“I think it’s kind of holding me back,” Rather said of the number crunching. “I don’t want to be thinking about getting 100 goals, but I am.”
Rather had one goal and one assist Friday in a 3-0 win over Princeton Day School. The Wildcats will visit New Jersey to play Morristown-Beard on Tuesday and host Portledge School on Wednesday. It’s not just the pressure of hitting the century mark that is slowing her down recently.
“Opposing teams always shadow Rose,” first-year RCDS coach Courtney Doucette said. “And the other day, Princeton was not only doubling her, they had three players shadowing, but Rose is doing a good job maintaining her composure.”
And she’s finding open teammates, who earlier in the season were happy to let Rather carry most of the offensive load.
“This is like the best season ever,” said Rather, whose team owns an 11-1 record. “Everyone has stepped up. We have a lot of good players, two full lines. I would never have this many goals without my teammates.”
Rather has only been with the Wildcats for two seasons.
When the school’s program suffered a decline in numbers three seasons ago, it became a co-op team, welcoming players from Hackley, King and Holy Child. There are currently 11 skaters on the roster.
Rather, who is from Stamford, Conn., played for two seasons at Westminster School and now attends King.
The Wildcats also have been getting contributions from sophomore forward Ciara Clare, senior defenseman Georgia Kleiner and senior goalie Rebecca Mendelsohn. Since the leagues in which RCDS competes do not allow co-op programs to participate in the postseason, there are nine games left.
And there will be more numbers floating around in the head of Rather, who is going to play next season at Holy Cross. She is within range of Elizabeth Wulf’s school record of 104 varsity goals.
The physical tools are obvious, but there’s more to scoring than having good hands.
“I think it’s just my drive,” Rather said. “When I go to the net, I’m looking to score. I’m looking to see where the goalie is. I’m always hustling. I never score the prettiest goals. I score a lot of messy goals off rebounds in front.”
Huguenots love a good comeback: At some point in the near future, New Rochelle coach Jim Tozzo needs to share his cardiac history with his players. For some reason, the Huguenots love to stir up third-period drama and have been in six games decided by two goals or less.
“I personally have this theory that we enjoy playing from behind,” senior defenseman Kenny Belvin said. “I don’t know why but I think we play better that way. I’m not saying we fall behind on purpose, but I think when we do, it’s like, ‘Nobody thinks we’re going to come back and get this, so we have to.’ And that drives us. I wish we had more of them, but it’s awesome to celebrate those comebacks.”
Mamaroneck still juggling: It’s hard to keep track of the numbers coming over the wall when Mamaroneck changes because Tigers coach Mike Chiapparelli has been working in players coming back from injury and trying different combinations.
Since a 5-4 loss to Rome Free Academy during the holiday break, Mamaroneck is 4-1 with wins over Clarkstown, Suffern, Scarsdale and New Rochelle.
“We’ve got a lot of good kids who can play,” Chiapparelli said. “We’ve got a lot of kids coming back so I’m trying to build some depth. Right now we have six defensemen who can play. I’ve got 10 forwards I can put on the ice, so we’re in good shape right now.”
In the crease: John Jay clinched the Conference I-B title last week with a win over Brewster. … Pelham’s leading scorer thus far is defenseman Will Cullen, who’s got eight goals. Nobody else on the roster has more than five. … Scarsdale gets a short break after its tournament wraps up, and then faces Pelham, New Rochelle and White Plains.