CENTER MORICHES — The big day finally arrived, or at least that is what the members of the new Riverhead High School girls lacrosse team must have thought.
With the start of their inaugural varsity season already pushed back a couple of days, there was some uncertainty as to whether they would play their first game on Thursday. Some morning snowfall put a question mark over the status of the non-league season-opener that afternoon against the Center Moriches Red Devils.
Riverhead had already seen its scheduled season opener two days earlier against the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold Tuckers changed at the last minute to a scrimmage.
If nothing else, Thursday morning’s weather might have calmed the nerves of Riverhead’s coach, Rich D’Alsace.
“The sun came out, the weather warmed up and we were excited,” he said. “It was a little cold, but my girls have always played better when the weather’s against them. They seem to step up to that challenge.”
They stepped up to this one. The Blue Waves made their varsity debut a memorable one. By the time they had played their first 6 minutes 26 seconds of varsity lacrosse, they were already on the positive side of an 8-0 score. They held a commanding 13-5 lead at halftime and won, 17-8, in the season opener for both teams.
Not bad for starters. Not bad at all.
“I come out here to win, to be competitive and we did it,” Riverhead center middie Carolyn Carrera said. “It’s awesome.”
Awesome was a word Carrera used seven times in a two-and-a-half-minute interview.
D’Alsace liked what he saw as well. “It was very encouraging,” he said.
No greater encouragement could be found than in the play of Carrera, a freshman with undoubted ability. Carrera pumped in six goals from 10 shots, assisted on two other goals and, perhaps most impressive of all, won 23 of 24 draws. Now that’s a full day’s work.
“We know that she’s an experienced player and she’s had a lot of time on the field with a lot of different travel teams and elite teams, so it’s not a surprise to see her do well, but what’s good is that she is doing well and excelling in areas where she needed to make improvements, so she’s really becoming a well-rounded player,” D’Alsace said. “She continues to surprise me. She steps up. She has an extra gear that she finds, and I still don’t know how far she’ll reach, but it will be far.”
Carrera and junior Kristin Peragine had two goals and two assists each during that game-opening 8-0 run. Peragine ended up with four goals and one assist. Another Riverheader, Bethany Peters, put up three goals and two assists while Danielle McCabe added a pair of goals. Sandra Ruttkayova and Amber Kemperman also found the net for the winners.
Riverhead’s junior goalie, Alycia Kratoville, was credited with five saves.
Center Moriches captain Samantha Fitzgerald was the only multiple-goal scorer for the Red Devils. The junior middie/attackman struck for four goals and one assist. Emily Fey, Brianna Mascia, Samantha Alcus and Jackie Maida had the rest of the goals. Samantha Nankervis registered two assists.
After falling behind by 8-0, Center Moriches twice pulled to within six goals of Riverhead, but no closer than that.
While Riverhead, a Suffolk County Division I side, made its varsity debut, Division II Center Moriches opened its second varsity season. The Red Devils went 2-14 last year.
D’Alsace appreciated the way his team corrected some weaknesses that were exposed in the scrimmage against Mattituck/Greenport/Southold. He especially liked the way the Blue Waves spread the field, created space, communicated and moved the ball. At the same time, however, he knows it would be unwise to make too much out of one game.
“I’m excited we have a win and I’m definitely happy, but I don’t want to have any false sense of where we are,” he said. “This is the first game. … While I’m happy, we definitely have some improvements to make and we’re definitely going to face some tough teams.”
In the meantime, Carrera was looking forward to a happy bus ride home.
“We’re going to do good this season,” she said. “I can definitely see it. We have potential. A great start to the season.”