Year’s Best in Bronx High School Sports

The last 365 days brought plenty of highlights, produced many stars and created memories to last a lifetime

Bronx Times Sports Editor Joseph Staszewski takes a look back at the year in Bronx high school sports and picks the best of the best. Here is what stands out from 2014:

Program of the Year: Riverdale

What a year it was for Riverdale. The Falcons were the borough’s dominant soccer school as its boys’ team claimed its first NYSAIS title since 2006. The girls reached their second straight final, only to fall in overtime. The Falcons boys’ hoops team made a run at a second straight NYSAIS Class B title before falling to Dwight in the final.

Boy’s Athlete of the Year: Alex Canicatti, Fordham Prep boys’ soccer

Fordham Prep has been on the cusp of a CHSAA Class A city title in recent years. A stellar season from Canicatti allowed all the pieces to fall into place to make it happen. He scored 20-plus goals to lead the Rams to the Archdiocesan and city title and a trip to the Catholic state final.

Girls’ Athlete of the Year: Maria Backman, Cardinal Spellman girls’ basketball

The Pilots star had the best season of her stellar career before heading to Michigan on a full scholarship. Backman, a triple-double waiting to happen, graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,604 points and led Spellman to the CHSAA Class AA Archdiocesan title

Team of the Year: Fieldston softball

Fieldston dominated from start to finish on its way to an undefeated Ivy League title and a second straight NYSAIS crown. The reign is in the capable hands of sophomore star Temma Levis, one of the city’s best all-around players. She, Savannah Stern and Caroline Susman were a tough trio to top.

Coach of Year: Andrew Fitzgerald, Riverdale boys’ soccer

Four years ago Fitzgerald took over a struggling Falcons program that did not make the playoffs his first year. Gradually under his patient tutelage Riverdale went further and further before finally winning it first NYSAIS crown since 2006. After the win Fitzgerald simply said it was the plan all along to get to that level.

Game of the Year: James Monroe baseball beats Gregorio Luperon in Monroe tournament final

Johann Paniagua was moved up in the lineup and produced five RBI. He had a two-grand grand slam in the fourth to tie the score and a run-scoring double in the bottom of the seventh to give the Eagles a thrilling 10-9 victory. Monroe trailed 7-3 before winning its first tournament title in four years.

Best Newcomer: Aneisha Lyons, Truman girls’ basketball

Lyons made her presence felt early and often on a team that featured plenty of scholarship level talent. The freshman’s athleticism and raw talent was easy to see as she scored 13 points per game in the regular season and 17 a contest over two playoff games. She announced herself as a major player in the girls’ hoops landscape.

Best Upset: Cardinal Spellman girls’ volleyball end three-year losing streak to Preston

The Panthers dominated their proud rival since 2011 and won a Class A state title along the way. The frustrations led to a genuine outpouring of emotions after Spellman ended the losing streak with a thrilling, come-from-behind, five-set victory in October. Players, coaches and fans rushed the court after the final point.

Best Clutch Performance: Michael Bronzo, Fordham Prep foootball

The senior did little bit of everything in the Rams 34-14 win over Xaverian in the CHSFL ‘A’ title game. He ran a punt return back for a touchdown, collected two interceptions and recovered a fumble. He was singled out by coach Peter Gorynski afterward for his efforts in a big moment.

Story of the Year: Legendary St. Raymond baseball coach and athletic director Ron Patnosh dies

St. Raymond lost more than a beloved person in Patnosh, but a treasure of the school itself. Patnosh gave 48 years to the all-boys intuition and coaching, so much so that people said he came with the building. He was a championship winning coach and an excellent athletic director who will be missed by the school and New York City sports community.

Quote of the Year:

“Just them asking us to come to Columbia University was even more of a bigger deal,” Spellman soccer forward Tonin Tonaj said after his team routed rival Mount. “Since our freshman year this was our biggest rival and now they wanted to come here on a better field and try to embarrass us. It didn’t work.”

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