Going back to the days when she was an eighth-grader and even after that, Alex Kozakiewicz recalls lean years for the Riverhead High School girls golf team. “I’ve seen us lose every match and then I’ve seen us lose every match except one and then every match except two,” said the junior.
Now Kozakiewicz can say she has been a part of the first Riverhead golf team — boys or girls — to win a league championship.
Riverhead grabbed a share of the Suffolk County League III title with a 7-2 defeat of Mount Sinai on the final day of the league season at Willow Creek Country Club in Mount Sinai on Wednesday. The Blue Waves and Sachem both ended up with identical 11-1 records. Riverhead closed out the league season by winning nine straight matches since its sole loss to Sachem. Sachem’s only loss was to Riverhead.
“It’s pretty cool,” Riverhead freshman Katie Moore said. “We did it together.”
Kozakiewicz likes having in-school bragging rights over Riverhead’s boys teams. “I love that,” she said. “The guys, I feel, get everything. You see so many [accolades for] baseball and football, and then there’s no golf. I mean, we’re here, too. We hit.”
They sure do.
Riverhead’s girls golf team is eight years old. In Failla’s six years coaching the team, this is the first year in which his six-player lineup was the same for each match. “This is probably the first year I didn’t have to start somebody who touched a golf club for the first time,” he said.
Moore led the team with a nine-hole average of 46. Aby Brophy, a senior in her sixth year on the team, was second with a 48 and Kozakiewicz averaged a 49. The next three were eighth-grader Kim Horvat (52), seventh-grader Morgan Dunn (54) and senior Sharrise Martin (58).
In Wednesday’s match — the first time Riverhead has ever won at Willow Creek — Moore led the way with a 49, Kozakiewicz shot a 52 and Brophy had a 53.
Failla said Riverhead athletic director Brian Sacks was the first one to offer his congratulations on the achievement.
“That’s the best part about this league championship — being the first,” Failla said. “It’s great. I’m so proud of these girls. They’re really committed to each other.”
Failla and several of his players spoke about the close bond the players share.
“We’re so close,” Kozakiewicz said. “I’ve never been on a team where I could actually tell my teammates about my personal life. They actually all listened and they all cared.”
Failla knew what was at stake going into Wednesday’s match, but he tried to shield his players from pressure by not advertising the match’s significance.
“I knew; I didn’t want them to know,” he said. “A couple of the girls that have been with me for a while — I can’t fool them.”
So, a new banner addition will be coming to the Riverhead High School gym.
Kozakiewicz said, “That’s kind of exciting, honestly.”
Photo caption: The happy Riverhead team following its title-clinching victory over Mount Sinai on Wednesday. (Credit: Courtesy photo)