Meet Staten Island's Rising High School Sports Stars
By Dylan Butler on June 13, 2013 7:46am
NEW YORK CITY — Staten Island the forgotten borough? Not in the sports world.
The St. Joseph by the Sea softball team captured a second straight CHSAA Archdiocesan title and with sophomore shortstop/outfielder Shannon Damon and freshman slugger Patricia Riches returning, the Vikings will again be the favorite next year.
Tottenville has reached the PSAL Class A softball final 12 consecutive times and should make it a lucky 13 with sophomore slugger Nylah Ramirez, who hit .630 this spring, behind the plate.
On the baseball diamond, junior Angelo Navetta batted .356 with 14 RBIs this season, while junior pitcher Tom Cosgrove picked up a pair of playoff victories in Monsignor Farrell’s run to the CHSAA Class AA final.
Geena Rosalbo, a junior point guard, helped guide Curtis to the PSAL Class AA basketball semifinals, losing to eventual champion Murry Bergtraum, while Monsignor Farrell junior Rich Sisti made history by becoming the first wrestler from Staten Island to capture a New York State Federation title.
Tottenville played in the PSAL Championship Division football final at Yankee Stadium and junior safety James Munson, who had five interceptions and two sacks, is a big reason why. The Pirates could make a return trip with junior running back Andrew Russo, who rushed for 22 touchdowns a year ago, transferring from St. Joseph by the Sea.
In the last of a five-part series, DNAinfo New York brings you the top 10 rising stars in Staten Island, in alphabetical order.
Tottenville (Huguenot) boys lacrosse, junior defender
A tenacious defender, Becerra anchored a stout Tottenville defense and helped lead the Pirates to back-to-back appearances in the PSAL Championship Division title game. A two-time all-league selection, he was named a 2013 Brine National High School All-American and will compete in the National All-American Lacrosse Classic in Boyds, Md. from June 30-July 3.
“What separates him from other players is he’s technically and fundamentally sound,” Tottenville coach Demetrios Haronitis said. “His lacrosse IQ is also outstanding. He’s the anchor of our defense. He knows where the midfielders should be and where his adjacents are.”
Monsignor Farrell (Oakwood) baseball, junior pitcher
He didn’t start the season as the Monsignor Farrell’s ace, but he stepped up in the postseason when John Taunton went down with an injury. The junior left-hander tossed a one-hit five-inning shutout in a 14-0 playoff victory against All Hallows and tossed a complete-game gem in a 7-1 win over eventual city champion St. Raymond.
“Right before our eyes we’ve seen the maturation of a pitcher,” said coach Bob Mulligan said. “Early on this year he was inconsistent, but once he got a chance to pitch, he made the most of it. … It’s been a great sight to see.”
St. Joseph by the Sea (Huguenot) softball, sophomore shortstop/outfielder
St. Joseph by the Sea is the two-time defending CHSAA Archdiocesan champions and has won the title six times in eight years. The versatile Damon, who can play all three outfield positions as well as shortstop and improved at the plate throughout the season, is a big reason why the Vikings are considered a favorite to claim the crown again next year.
“She’s an intense player, but she’s quietly intense,” said her coach Mike Ponsiglione. “She has that look in her eye. She’s very fluid, very smooth. She’s a superior defensive player and her bat is starting to catch up with her glove.”
Tottenville (Huguenot) football, junior defensive back
Munson, the head coach’s son, is a big reason why Tottenville reached the PSAL Championship Division title game at Yankee Stadium. The ball-hawking safety was one of the city’s leaders with five interceptions, including two in a quarterfinal win over Brooklyn Tech. The junior also had a pair of sacks.
“He’s been around football his whole life,” Tottenville coach James Munson said. “He can see things before they happen and he reacts that quickly. He plays so hard and he’s so tough that it’s a testament to him. He makes the whole defense go.”
St. Joseph by-the-Sea (Huguenot) baseball, junior pitcher/first baseman
Navetta has been in the spotlight for much of his burgeoning baseball career and for good reason. A star on the Staten Island squad that reached the Little League World Series, Navetta also guided the St. Joseph by-the-Sea junior varsity team to a city title as a freshman and batted .356 with 14 RBIs this season.
“He’s a winner,” St. Joseph by-the-Sea coach Gordon Rugg said. “He knows how to play the game. He picks these kids up.”
Tottenville (Huguenot) softball, sophomore catcher
One of the top power hitters in the city, Ramirez is a two-year starter at perennial powerhouse Tottenville. After hitting .587 as a freshman, the sophomore catcher hit .630 with five doubles, two triples and six home runs, driving in 35 runs to help the Pirates reach the PSAL Class A final.
“She’s got a lot of strength,” Tottenville coach Cathy Moreno said. “She’s knowledgeable about the game, she understands how to play it and she can play several different positions. She’s very versatile in the field.”
St. Joseph by the Sea (Huguenot) softball, freshman outfielder
Riches terrorized opposing hitters from the time she arrived at St. Joseph by the Sea. The freshman slugger is an infielder, but she was converted to the outfield to get her bat in the lineup. A leadoff hitter at the start of the season, Riches ended the year as the Vikings No. 3 hitter, belting five doubles, four triples and two home runs.
“She does everything well and she got better every day,” St. Joseph by the Sea coach Mike Ponsiglione said. “She has a gun for an arm, she can run like the wind and she can hit for power. She has all the tools. You look at her and say that’s a softball player.”
Curtis (St. George) girls basketball, junior point guard
Rosalbo is the prototypical point guard. The junior, who averaged 11.4 points and 3.2 assists per game, but increased those numbers in the postseason. A hard-nosed defender, Rosalbo helped lead the Warriors to the PSAL Class AA semifinals, scoring a season-high 17 points in the loss to eventual champion Murry Bergtraum.
Tottenville (Huguenot) football, junior running back
Although he’s just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, there was arguably no one tougher than Russo. The junior rushed for 1,293 yards, good for 5.7 yards per carry, and scored 22 touchdowns, helping guide ground-and-pound St. Joseph by the Sea to its first-ever CHSFL Class AAA playoff victory and an appearance in the semifinals. He has transferred to perennial PSAL powerhouse Tottenville for his senior year.
“He’s a special player,” Tottenville coach James Munson said. “He runs hard, he’s quick and he’s got good vision. He’s working very hard. He’s very tough.”
Monsignor Farrell (Oakwood) wrestling, junior 220 pounds
Sisti made history in February, becoming the first wrestler from Staten Island to capture a New York State Federation title, beating Sachem North’s Steven Mills, 3-2, in the 220-pound Division I final. The Monsignor Farrell junior also repeated as Mayor’s Cup and CHSAA champion.
“Rich is bigger, faster and stronger than anyone he wrestles,” Monsignor Farrell co-coach Phil Squarito said. “Add to that his high skill level and you have a very special wrestler. He did not give up a single takedown during his junior season.”