Ashley King took the field for the first Riverhead practice this season in a unique position. As the new head coach of the third-year program, King had little knowledge of the players assembled before her. It didn’t matter what grades players were in or what positions they played in the past.
“I take that as an advantage, not knowing too much,” King said.
During tryouts, King evaluated players, trying to determine their skill level and lacrosse IQ. For a new program still in the building stages, the early part of the season is very much a work in progress.
“I’m really just trying different things, seeing where I thought they fit and then I asked for their feedback,” King said.
King takes over at Riverhead after a superb lacrosse career at Shoreham-Wading River and then the University of Massachusetts and Louisville. In 2006 King was a senior on the first Wildcats team to win a Long Island championship. Shoreham has since won five state championships.
King was a defender for two years at UMass, where she was on the Atlantic 10 all-rookie team as a freshman. She finished her career at Louisville, where she was a starter on defense.
When King saw the Riverhead position was available, it seemed like a perfect fit for her, she said.
“I’d love to rebuild the program and really grow it,” King said. “We’re playing in a huge hotbed for lacrosse.”
King said she hopes to share her experiences as a former college player and teach some of the lessons she learned along the way.
“I try to get them prepared for the next level and treat it kind of as a miniature college team,” she said. “They’re really giving 100 percent the entire time. We may be young, but I’m still going to have high expectations.”
The Blue Waves have a mix of youth to go with a handful of seniors. Junior Carolyn Carrera returns in the midfield and will be a key player on both ends for Riverhead. Carrera was named a Brine High School All-American last season. Carrera opened the season with 4 goals and 2 assists in Riverhead’s loss to Mattituck/Greenport/Southold on Saturday.
Sabina Dorr returns at attack for Riverhead. She dished out 4 assists Saturday. Amanda Dickerson and Emily Jehle will both be key on attack as well.
Michelle Danowski will anchor the defense. Paige Hubbard earned the first start in goal.
“We do have a lot of strengths,” King said. “It’s just finding a way to put it all together. These girls coming back are great athletes and great leaders.”
Riverhead will open its division schedule March 27 against Sachem East.