The scoreboard at the Pulaski Sports Complex displayed a final score of 5-0 in favor of the visiting Lindenhurst High School girls soccer team over Riverhead Thursday.
But Blue Waves coach Brian Cunningham saw something else — progress.
“Every year we’re getting better and better, learning how to play as a team,” Cunningham said of his young team. “This group is tight-knit. They’re not hanging their heads.”
Riverhead (0-4, 0-3 Suffolk County League II) fielded a starting 11 of four freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors and one senior.
Senior midfielder Erika Breitfeller led the league-leading Bulldogs (4-0-1, 4-0-0) with two goals.
“They played tough,” Cunningham said. “They beat us on a couple of balls. It said it was 5-0, but they played hard. They didn’t give up. They played well in the second [half]. We’re learning to deal with bad things happening on the field. Our goalie made some nice saves.”
Indeed, she did. Sophomore goalkeeper Crysten Apicello was credited with 20 saves.
“In the past our goalie would take 40 shots,” Cunningham said. “As we get older and stronger, that gets fixed. We’ve got to just keep that going. She’s a dedicated goalie.”
Breitfeller lifted the visitors into a 1-0 lead 5 minutes, 1 second into the match as she scored from close range into the lower left corner. Junior midfielder Grace Cagnina doubled the margin several minutes later, connecting from the right side with 26:42 remaining in the opening half before Breitfeller made it 3-0 on a counterattack with 9:16 to go.
Senior midfielder Lily Poplawski scored in her fifth consecutive match since the season kicked off, putting home a Breitfeller feed from the left side with 4:37 left for a 4-0 lead in the half.
Freshman midfielder Katelyn DellaPorta closed out the scoring with 37:26 remaining in the game.
“Their outside middies worked us,” Cunningham said. “They were very good in making runs to the net.”
The Blue Waves find themselves in an extremely busy three days. They play at Walt Whitman in a league game Friday and welcome in East Hampton in a non-league encounter Saturday.
“We’re going to play hard and keep it going,” Cunningham said.