Memorable Mondays: Top 5 coaches
Welcome to MSGVarsity.com's Memorable Mondays, a summer-long series that looks back on the top players, games and moments from the past season and gazes ahead to 2012-13. As the summer goes on, we'll compile all the lists and post them here:www.msgvarsity.com/mondays. New lists will be posted every Monday at midnight.
In Week 7 of Memorable Mondays, we look at five of the best coaches in the Hudson Valley.
Jim Moran, Dobbs Ferry football
It wasn’t a bad first season as head coach for Moran. Taking over the storied program, Moran led the Eagles to their fourth state championship in school history. The run was highlighted by wins over defending champ Bronxville in the Section 1 final and a dramatic state semifinal win over Hoosick Falls, which was the best coaching performance in the Hudson Valley this season. Moran has an incredible eye for talent, which was most evident when he transformed former offensive lineman Spencer Avalos into an all-state quarterback.
George Gaine, Tappan Zee basketball
Gaine capped a remarkable season by engineering an upset for the ages. The Dutchmen went undefeated despite a brutal Rockland County schedule and captured their second Section 1 Class A championship in three seasons. They topped defending champion Byram Hills in the semifinals and Poughkeepsie in the title game, both of which were decided late. After winning their first state tournament game in school history, Tappan Zee shocked five-state champ Jamesville-DeWitt in the state semifinals. Gaine did it with an inspiring level of passion and shrewd game-planning, which was on full display against Jamesville-DeWitt.
Tom Virgadamo, Haldane baseball
The former Haldane standout as a player led the program to new heights as a coach. Virgadamo guided his team to a 20-4 regular season despite playing many Class A and B opponents, and a return trip to the Section 1 Class C final. The Blue Devils knocked off defending state champion Tuckahoe for their first title since 2004 and then won three straight state tournament games — all shutouts. Haldane lost in the state final to unbeaten Lansing. The team fed off Virgadamo’s tireless energy and enthusiasm, and was one of the section’s best pitching and defensively polished squads. With so much talent returning, don’t be shocked if next year Haldane eclipses this memorable season.
Jeff Barnard, Mamaroneck boys lacrosse
Barnard guided Mamaroneck to the most stunning playoff run in Section 1 boys lacrosse history. The No. 10-seeded Tigers pulled off upset after upset in the Class AA playoffs, culminating with a 9-8 win over defending champ Mahopac in the final. It marked the first-ever sectional title for Mamaroneck, which shockingly entered the postseason on an eight-game losing streak. Even more impressive, the Tigers were the first southern Westchester team to win a Class A crown since White Plains did so in 1979. Barnard was named the U.S. Lax Coach of the Year for Section 1 and the Section 1 Class A Coach of the Year.
Mamaroneck eventually fell to Section 2 powerhouse Niskayuna in the regional finals, but there's plenty to look forward to in 2013. With virtually of their key players returning, the Tigers will be a serious threat to repeat.
“It was a great experience for our kids and everything’s a building experience for our guys,” Barnard said after the season-ending loss. “Our goal is to reach a state title next year. We have a very, very young team. We’re going to have some bigger and more experienced kids next year."
Sharon Sarsen, Lakeland field hockey
The legendary coach has been the mastermind behind Lakeland's record-setting dynasty. The Hornets compiled a record of 21-1 in 2011-12 and took home their impressive third straight New York State Class B crown and 11th Section 1 title. It marked the sixth state crown for Sarsen, who has racked up an astounding 487 wins during her illustrious career.
"It is an amazing accomplishment to win (a state title) once," Sarsen said after defeating Long Island's Garden City in the final. "But to do it three times in a row with this group has been amazing."
Lakeland loses the All-American duo of Emma Bozek and Shannon Scavelli to graduation, but Sarsen is ready for the challenge that a new year brings.
"It's fun to start all over and see what you can make," the coach said.
And Sarsen certainly knows a thing or two about molding talent. She was a coach and mentor to former Lakeland standout Melissa Gonzalez, who went on to play at UConn and competed for the United States at the Olympics in London.
Join us throughout the summer as "Memorable Mondays" brings you more top 5 lists:
Aug. 13: Top five most memorable games from 2011-12
Aug. 20: Top five teams from 2011-12
Aug. 27: Top five teams to watch in 2012-13
Find them all at www.msgvarsity.com/mondays.