They were practicing their math.
Years ago, Michelle Giamportone and her younger sister by two years and three months, Marissa, needed to count the legs of a number of different animals. The right answer was 14, but Michelle guessed 13.
The younger sister made the correction.
“Flamingos have more than one leg,” Marissa said.
It’s merely one endearing memory from a childhood full of them. These days, those memories are being made as members of the Rhinebeck High School girls soccer team, playing together as Hawks for the first time this season.
A sophomore a year ago, Michelle was a driving force in Rhinebeck’s first sectional championship, the Section 9 Class C title. Now with freshman Marissa Giamportone added to the mix, Rhinebeck is 12-1 entering Monday’s Mid-Hudson Athletic League semifinals.
The Hawks were undefeated until Wednesday, when they took a 1-0 loss to Spackenkill — the same team they will face Monday.
Rhinebeck’s success has come with some sibling silliness.
“We do have our moments on the field where coach (Matt) Grande says we sound like an old, married couple,” Michelle admitted. “We have our moments when things get intense.”
Rhinebeck girls soccer on its upcoming season
But most of the time, it dissipates quickly.
“We stand there and yell at each other, back and forth,” Marissa said. “But we just laugh it off.”
On the field, they complement each other’s style of play and share the common basic goal to win. Their differences, however, are countless.
“Marissa is into pop-ish (music). I’m into rap — not hardcore rap, but my music is more mad and angry. Hers is a little more happy and lovey,” Michelle said.
The younger Giamportone verified that: “I’m digging Selena Gomez’s new album.”
Michelle Giamportone also admitted her sister is “a little messier” at home.
“She leaves her stuff everywhere. My mom will do laundry and everything goes on the ground,” Michelle said. Her sister attested to it, claiming that her side of the room is indeed messy.
Music tastes and cleanliness differences aside, the Giamportone sisters are at the point where they can admire each other’s work on the field. To Marissa, Michelle is a tactical master. On the other hand, Michelle is fond of her sister’s defensive prowess.
“My sister definitely got the defensive skills,” Michelle said. “She’s not very technical, but nobody in Class B is going to get by her. She’s a very strong, physical and smart player.”
As for the big sister, “I have to say,” Marissa said, “her technical skills with the ball; her fancy moves and creativity (are the strongest parts of her game). She sees the field well.”
After spending last year keeping a close eye on the Hawks from the stands, studying her sister and the team, Marissa shares the same sentiment her older sister does — that the Hawks are even stronger than they were last season.
“I watched a majority of the games last year,” Marissa said. “I think we’ve really improved. Going forward, we’re going to be strong and one of the teams to beat.”
Part of that may have to do with her presence. Simply having her sister on the field, Michelle said, has made a difference.
“Playing with her helps me a lot in the midfield,” the older sister said. “We know each other and we’re able to read each other’s runs. It’s easier for me to play.”
A.J. Martelli: [email protected], 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports