The leaves have turned colors, the Thanksgiving leftovers are all gone from the refrigerator, and winter sports athletes are getting started on their seasons.
But before we turn to indoor sports, we wanted to salute some of the top performers and teams in the just-concluded fall season, which for our area ended right before the holiday break:
BOYS BADMINTON: The Great Neck South boys badminton team reached the semifinals of the Nassau County team bracket, losing Plainview-Old Bethpage, 4-3 in that round. Herricks and Manhasset both lost in the first round. In the individual competition, though, Great Neck South’s Melvin Thu won his second consecutive individual singles title, beating Jericho’s Howard Zheng in the final, 21-19, 21-5. It was the fourth straight singles final for Thu.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY: The Port Washington boys team captured the Nassau County team title in November, as Lukas Derasmo led the team with a fifth-place finish in the race.
The Manhasset boys cross country team again won the Conference II race, placing four runners in the Top 10 finishers.
At the state meet, Manhasset placed second as a team in Class B, while North Shore’s Robby Levy snagged an 8th-place finish individually.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY: The North Shore team continued one of the most impressive streaks in New York state, winning its 200th consecutive dual meet in October, and cruised to yet another Nassau Conference III crown, its 17th in the last 19 years. Shannon Flachner of the Wheatley School won the race, in 19:40.17, with North Shore’s Joanna Kenny placing second in 20:06.05.
In the larger school county races, Manhasset took second in Conference II, with Gabriella Devito finishing fifth in 20:40.75, while Port Washington finished third in Conference 1, with junior Ashley Carillo taking second overall in 19:51.76, with teammate Eve Siff-Scheer in fourth place.
At the state meet, Great Neck South’s Isabella Spagnoli was the top local finisher, placing 18th.
FIELD HOCKEY: It was a very strong season for several locals, especially Port Washington and Manhasset.
The Vikings reached the championship game in Class A against Massapequa, but fell 4-1 in that game.
For Manhasset, new coaches took over after the retirement of longtime leader Steve Sproul, and coach Danielle Groneman kept up the winning tradition. Manhasset went 9-0 and 14-2 in the regular season, and advanced to the championship game in Class B as the No.1 seed. Led by Shea Panzik (10 goals, 11 assists) and Grace Camera (six goals, 13 assists), Manhasset battled but longtime nemesis Garden City came out on top, 1-0 to win the crown.
New Hyde Park had a terrific season in League 3, going 7-1-1, but in the playoffs fell in the first round to Clarke.
FOOTBALL: It was another strong season for the local teams, but no squad made it past the semifinal round in their classifications.
Port Washington overcame a slow start and a slew of injuries to finish strong and qualify for the playoffs in Conference I, but fell in the opening round to Farmingdale.
Manhasset, under coach Jay Iaquinta, rolled to another fantastic season, starting 6-0, and reached the semifinals of Conference II, facing Carey. But for the second time this season the Seahawks squeaked by Manhasset, winning 14-6, ending Manhasset’s season.
New Hyde Park, led by do-everything QB/RB Aidan Garvey, had a 5-3 regular season to qualify for the Conference II playoffs, and cruised by Elmont in the first round. But facing juggernaut Garden City in the semis, the Gladiators fell, 35-0.
And in Conference IV, two-time defending champion North Shore slipped a bit and wasn’t able to defend its title, though it did qualify for the playoffs with a 4-4 record. The Vikings were defeated, 21-7 by Locust Valley in the first round.
BOYS SOCCER: It was a magical season for two schools starting with M: Manhasset and Mineola. First, the Mineola boys.
A close-knit group that in eighth grade boasted to varsity coach Al Cavalluzzo that they would one day win a county title, did that and went one better in 2023.
Paced by leading goal-scorer forward Jose Escobar and captains Sebastian Knight and Aidan Breen, the Mustangs roared through the Class A playoffs and won the title with a 3-0 win over Lawrence in the title game.
No. 3 seed Mineola kept rolling in the Long Island championship game, defeating Kings Park, 4-3, in overtime, to win the LIC for the first time in 18 years as well.
It looked like things would keep rolling in the state semifinals, as Mineola carried a 1-0 lead late into the second half. But Byram Hills scored in the final two minutes, then won in overtime. Still, it was a remarkable run for Mineola.
The Manhasset boys also enjoyed an incredible ride this fall. A year that began with such tragedy (the death of Dr. Fara Vitale, mom to Manhasset players Joseph and Gianluca Milazzo, occurred in early September) ended in such triumph. For the first time since 2000, Manhasset captured the Nassau County championship. Led by attacking forwards like Gabe Feldman and a strong defense led by Luca Petrucelli and the Milazzo twins, Manhasset beat Garden City for the county crown.
In the LIC, Manhasset was bested by Smithtown West, 1-0.
Port Washington went 8-3-4 and advanced to the semis of the Class AAA bracket before losing to Plainview-Old Bethpage, while the Wheatley School boys squad lost to Carle Place in penalty kicks in the Class B championship match.
GIRLS SOCCER: The Wheatley School snapped a one-year “drought” of winning county championships. This fall, led by Princeton-bound scorer Sydney Romano, the Wildcats re-captured the Class B crown by defeating Oyster Bay, 6-0. But Wheatley’s run ended in the LIC, as it fell to Suffolk champ Babylon, 2-1.
The Port Washington girls lost in the Class AAA semis, while Manhasset fell to Garden City in the Class AA semis as well. North Shore lost in the final four round as well in Class A, 1-0 to Plainedge.
GIRLS SWIMMING: Swimmers and divers from Manhasset, Herricks and Great Neck South all enjoyed huge success at the Nassau County meet and again at the state meet in Webster in mid-November.
Great Neck South’s Kaitlyn Liu had two top-fives at states, finishing fourth in the 100 butterfly and fifth in the 200 IM, breaking a school record in the fly in the process.
Herricks freshman Kayra Patan grabbed seventh place at states in the 100 breaststroke, while Manhasset’s Samantha Anderson grabbed a pair of top eight finishes as a sophomore. Anderson was fourth in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 free.
The Manhasset 200-yard relay team also finished eighth at states.
GIRLS TENNIS: Great Neck South’s girls team reached the semifinals of the large school county tournament before losing to eventual champ Garden City; Great Neck defeated defending champ Port Washington on the way there. Manhasset and Roslyn fell in the quarterfinals as well.
In the individual county tournament, Herricks’ Angel Walia captured third place by winning a consolation match over Great Neck South’s Madison Lee, and Walia advanced to her first state tournament.
In the doubles county draw, Manhasset’s sister team of Andrea & Lina Vases reached the finals before losing to a Garden City duo.
In the state tournament, the Vases sisters finished impressively, taking third place, while Walia reached the quarterfinals.
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: It was the greatest season in Mineola history, as far as anyone can remember. The Mustangs rolled through a regular season that saw them clinch the top seed in the Class A tournament, and Mineola, led by the Kenney twins (Caitlin and Liz) and powerful middle hitter Keira McCaffrey, overcame a fierce Wantagh challenge in the county title game to win the crown for the first time.
That was followed by a dominating three-set win over Sayville in the Long Island championship match, sending the Mustangs on to the state semifinals.
There Mineola put up a strong fight but was defeated by eventual champ Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in three close games.
In Class B, Wheatley lost in the finals to Oyster Bay.