03/17/15 4:00pm
03/17/2015 4:00 PM
Riverhead graduate Carolyn Carrera finds herself in a new role on the lacrosse field as a player on Hofstra's team. (Credit: Zack Lane/Hofstra University)

Riverhead graduate Carolyn Carrera finds herself in a new role on the lacrosse field as a player at Hofstra this spring. (Credit: Zack Lane/Hofstra University)

Carolyn Carrera has gone through a transition and a half during her freshman year at Hofstra University.

A former standout four-year starter and goal-scoring threat for the Riverhead High School girls lacrosse team, Carrera has seen playing time as a defensive midfielder. (more…)

12/16/13 7:00am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera inside the school's gymnasium.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera inside the school’s gymnasium.

Riverhead High School athlete Carolyn Carrera understands her success on the field and in the classroom are the result of hard work and dedication. But the 17-year-old from Jamesport said there’s a force greater than herself that guides her to victory.

You won’t see her Tebowing after scoring a goal, but you might catch a glimpse of Carolyn saying a prayer before a game or an exam.

“I feel like it has been brushed under the rug, but I truly give the glory to God,” Carolyn said about talking to reporters about her Christian faith. “I’m so grateful and I feel so blessed to be who I am, to have the family I have and to be in this Riverhead community.”

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera was a goalkeeper on the soccer team this fall.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera was a goalkeeper on the soccer team this fall.

Carolyn is a three-sport athlete who plans to play lacrosse and soccer at Hofstra University. She was recently honored as the winner of New York’s female Wendy’s High School Heisman Award from a pool of 48,000 applicants.

She didn’t win the national competition last Friday, but described the experience of becoming her high school’s lone athlete to earn such a ranking as “a blessing.”

“For being national finalist, I got a gold medal,” Carolyn said shortly after the event. “It’s very exciting and I’m so happy to be here.”

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Carrera was a co-winner of the News-Review's Athlete of the Year Award last June.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Carrera was a co-winner of the News-Review’s Athlete of the Year Award last June.

Carrera, a News-Review Athlete of the Year last school year, plays goalkeeper on the Riverhead soccer team in the fall. She’s also the basketball team captain and is a midfielder on the lacrosse team. She has won several top awards and was an All-American in lacrosse last year. She is the class president, an honor roll student, member of the National Honor Society, the Latin Honor Society, and the Math Club, just to name a few.

Carolyn also volunteers for several charitable causes, including raising funds for Brendan House, a home for the disabled where her former classmate Michael Hubbard plans to move in.

Although she’s already accomplished a lot so far during the first four months of her senior year, Carolyn said she’s focused on getting her grades up. A lofty goal for a student with a weighted average of 105.507, who’s ranked third in her class.

She has signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Hofstra University next school year.

We sat down with Carolyn last Wednesday to discuss her recent achievements. The following was excerpted from our conversation:

Q: Why do you think you’re a high achiever?

A: The reason why I’m so motivated and driven to achieve more and go after everything possible that I can is truly to bring glory to God. Everything I do, I’m striving to do it in a way that shines brightly and really touches the lives of others, shows love and a great example.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Carolyn Carrera received a medal for being a High School Heisman finalist.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Carolyn Carrera received a medal for being a High School Heisman finalist.

Q: Who are your role models?

A: My number one role model is definitely Jesus. He set the ultimate example of love for the world. Next is my dad. He’s very brave and he’s always sharing his faith with others and I truly look up to him for that. Coach Jim Janecek, too. He was my coach when I played JV basketball and now he’s the assistant basketball coach. He’s also my boss at the Riverhead Rec Department. I think the connection we have is we’re always sharing our faith. He’s always pushing and helping me to see the positive side of things and how to look at them in a different light.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO  |  Carrera scored four goals with two assists in the Blue Waves lacrosse season-opener in March.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Carrera scored four goals with two assists in the Blue Waves lacrosse season-opener in March.

Q: Is it hard to talk about your faith?

A: I think it’s hard because there’s always opposing viewpoints or they don’t want to hear what you have to say about your faith. I feel like life is such an opportunity and it’s such a gift. If someone doesn’t like me because of my faith, it is what it is. I’m going to keep living life the way I am and I’m going to do it all for God.

Q: What is your advice for younger students who want to become high achievers?

A: One thing I’m always remembering is a very simple quote from my lacrosse coach Shannon Smith: “It’s OK to be different.” I feel like so many times I can just say that to myself when I can’t hangout with friends because I’m practicing or doing homework. It’s OK to be different. It’s OK to want more than what other kids are wanting. It’s OK to follow your faith and proclaim it. It’s OK to want different things and not be like everyone else.

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11/17/13 12:00pm
11/17/2013 12:00 PM

RIVERHEAD SCHOOLS PHOTO | Riverhead seniors Jaron Greenidge and Carolyn Carrera both inked National Letters of Intent Friday to play lacrosse in college. Pictured are: Front Row, seated (l-r) Jaron Greenridge, Xann Greenridge, Mario Carrera, Carolyn Carrera and Dawn Carrera. Back Row, standing (l-r): Athletic Director Bill Groth, boys lacrosse coach Victor Guadagnino, guidance counselor Chris Martin, Jaron’s dad—Robin Greenridge, assistant girls lacrosse Coach Jim Janecek, girls lacrosse Coach Ashley King and RHS Principal Charles Regan.

Two Riverhead lacrosse players signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period to continue playing their sport in college.

Jaron Greenidge signed with Brevard College, a Division II school in Brevard, N.C. Carolyn Carrera signed with Hofstra University, where she also plans to play soccer. The signing period for soccer starts in February.

Greenidge, who’s currently playing on the Blue Waves’ football team that is headed to the county championship game, is a defenseman on the lacrosse team. As a sophomore, he was the Suffolk County Rookie of the Year. During that time, the Blue Waves have enjoyed their most successful seasons in program history, culminating in a playoff appearance last year.

Greenidge was a scholar athlete in 2012 and 2013 and was an all-county selection for lacrosse and football.

“Jaron has a lot of athleticism, dedication and a strong commitment to excellence,” said lacrosse coach Victor Guadagnino, who is also a social studies teacher at Riverhead. “He’s strong and he has a lot of speed.”

Carrera has not only been a star athlete at Riverhead, but one of the top students in her grade. She ranked third in her class with a 98.75 unweighted GPA.

On the field, Carrera is an All-American midfielder who was chosen to play on the Long Island Metropolitan Team that competed in the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s Division National Tournament at Lehigh University. Carrera was the first Riverhead lacrosse player selected for a such an honor.

Carrera was recently honored as one of 12 national finalists for the Wendy’s Heisman Award. She was the female winner of the award for New York. There was 102 state winners in contention to be one of the 12 national finalists.

“She’s a leader and a role model,” said lacrosse coach Ashley King. “She definitely has a bright future. I’m in awe of her efforts and abilities both on the playing field and in the community.”

11/07/13 1:30pm
11/07/2013 1:30 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera will anchor the Blue Waves' defense this season as goalkeeper.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera was honored with a prestigious award for her excellence in athletics, academics and community leadership.

Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera — a three-sport athlete who plans to play lacrosse and soccer at Hofstra University — was honored this week as the winner of New York’s female Wendy’s High School Heisman Award.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Carrera was a co-winner of the News-Review’s Athlete of the Year Award last June.

The award is given each year to one male and female student in each state who demonstrates excellence in athletics, academics and community leadership. The 102 state winners are each entered into the national competition, where 12 students will be chosen as finalists and compete for a title on Dec. 13. The 12 finalists will be featured on ESPN and receive gold medals and $2,000 for their high school. The high school of each national winner receives a donation of $10,000.

Last month, Carrera was named one of 10 finalists for New York from a pool of 48,000 applicants. She was chosen along with John McCarthy of Corning-Painted Post West High School.

Carrera plays goalkeeper on the Riverhead soccer team in the fall. She also plays basketball in the winter and is a midfielder on the lacrosse team in the spring. She was an All-American in lacrosse last year.

Carrera has been equally successful in the classroom with a 98.75 unweighted average. She scored a 2040 on the SATs and is ranked third in her class out of 362 students. She is an honor roll student, member of the National Honor Society, the Latin Honor Society, Mentathletes and the Math Club.

She’s also president of her class and has been active working with student government to raise funds to help former classmate Michael Hubbard. At Hofstra, Carrera plans to major in engineering or pre-med.

In June, Carrera was named a co-winner of the News Review’s Athlete of the Year of the award for Riverhead.

09/23/13 7:20pm
09/23/2013 7:20 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Meagan Brunner of Riverhead dribbling into space during Tuesday's match against Centereach.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Meagan Brunner of Riverhead dribbling into space during Tuesday’s match against Centereach.


Carolyn Carrera is well aware that there are pluses to go with the obvious minuses of playing goalkeeper for a soccer team that is more likely to be the underdog than the favorite in its matches this season. For one thing, she knows she will see plenty of shots come her way, and she’s absolutely fine with that.

“I love the action,” she said.

In that sense, Carrera will not be disappointed. Riverhead’s senior captain and five-year starter has already faced a lot of shots.

Another plus is that Carrera can look at this season — and the strong teams the Blue Waves are facing in Suffolk County League III — as good preparation for when she plays for Hofstra University next year. The more shots she faces, the more experience she gets, the better she gets.

That’s one way to look at it.

Along with the decisiveness and focus that makes her a fine goalie, Carrera also has the drive to improve in what may be soccer’s most  complicated position. “Every single aspect I can always use improvement, just being quicker on my feet, quicker for the second shot, better kicks, better punts, just everything,” she said.

She said she loves the training, as well as the continual learning, the aggression and the adrenaline that comes with it all.

Riverhead’s former coach, Maria Dounelis, who brought Carrera onto the team as an eighth-grader, said she is the best goalkeeper in the team’s 11-year history.

The current Riverhead coach, Hassan Olowu, said, “She’s awesome.”

Centereach coach Andrew Nardi was tipped off before Monday’s league game in Riverhead that his team would be facing a talented goalkeeper. “I heard from other teams that their goalie is legit, and she proved it today,” he said.

Yet, not even Carrera was able to prevent a sharp-shooting Centereach team from striking for a 5-0 shutout. Nikki Ortega, a junior forward, was involved in four of those goals, scoring two and assisting on two. Monica Festa scored twice and Jessica Kraljic added a goal and an assist for the Cougars (5-3, 2-2).

Carrera really didn’t have much of a chance at stopping any of them.

“Those shots to the corner post were very tough to save, almost impossible to save,” said Nardi.

The first goal came 13 minutes into the match when a corner kick by Kraljic bounced in the penalty area and Ortega blasted it into the net.

“Amazing force and amazing accuracy,” Nardi said. “She can hit it.”

The next three goals came within 2:36 of each other late in the first half. Festa beat Carrera to her left, Kraljic connected on a booming blast over Carrera, and Festa, assisted by Alyssa Tatti, drilled a shot inside the far right post.

Ortega netted the fifth goal after a lead pass from Ryan Schubert in the 69th minute.

Centereach, which won only one game last year, has seen a dramatic turnaround. The Cougars have clearly solved their finishing problem of a year ago. They outshot the Blue Waves (1-3, 0-3) by 21-3 and enjoyed a 10-0 advantage in corner kicks.

Goalkeepers Analee Buscavino and Stephanie Maikisch needed to make only 1 save between them for the shared shutout.

Carrera showed her quality in the second half with a nice reflex save of a first-timer by Alexa Rudillosso. It was one of 4 saves by Carrera, who also knocked away two crosses, had 17 clearances and collected nine loose balls in her penalty area.

Monday’s game served as a reminder to Riverhead that League III is a world away from the developmental league it played in last year.

“I think we’re definitely the underdog when we’re put in a situation like this,” senior midfielder Emily Jehle said, “but you can’t underestimate us because we still got really good players on this team and, more than that, we have heart.”

Olowu said his players take steps forward with every game. “The tough thing is these losses don’t make it easy, but they never tell the whole story,” he said. “They don’t show the individual improvements of the player.”

Carrera’s improvement continues. A season-ending knee injury to the team’s only other goalie, Robyn Schneider, means that Carrera will see plenty of action the rest of the season.

“She does not stop,” Olowu said. “She competes no matter what the score is. She will make that really amazing save after letting in a couple of goals, and that’s character. You can’t buy that.”

Olowu said returning to the developmental league next year is an option to explore. Of course, by then, Carrera will have moved on and the Blue Waves will have a new player in goal.

“I am proud to say that I got to coach her,” Olowu said. “I’m going to miss her. She knows it.”

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05/09/13 6:00pm
05/09/2013 6:00 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Riverhead junior Carolyn Carrera scored five goals with a pair of assists in the Blue Waves' loss Tuesday to Patchogue-Medford.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Carolyn Carrera was selected to play on the Long Island Metropolitan Team.

GIRLS LACROSSE: Carrera picked for L.I. team Carolyn Carrera, a junior midfielder at Riverhead High School, has been chosen to play on the Long Island Metropolitan Team to compete in the 2013 US Lacrosse Women’s Division National Tournament May 25-26 at Lehigh University. Carrera is the first Riverhead lacrosse player to be selected to a team of this national significance. The tournament features high school age players representing the US Lacrosse region in which they live and play. The Long Island Metropolitan Team is selected from the best high school girls lacrosse players in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The National Tournament began in 1933 as a tournament to showcase the best post-collegiate and club women’s lacrosse players. Since that time, it has grown into one of the largest women’s lacrosse events in the nation.

Zilnicki helps Farmingdale to title Farmingdale State captured its sixth consecutive Skyline Conference Championship after defeating Old Westbury, 2-1, recently in Farmingdale. The Rams earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament. Senior left fielder David Zilnicki of Riverhead led off the game with a walk and advanced to second on a bunt single by junior center fielder Edward Bergmann. After an Anthony Alvino sacrifice bunt, designated hitter Dalton McCarthy reached on a fielder’s choice as Zilnicki scored to give the Rams (28-11) a 1-0 lead. Zilnicki also scored on Alvino’s fielder’s choice in the fifth for a 2-1 lead. Zilnicki went 2 for 3 with two runs scored, two stolen bases and two walks.

YOUTH SOCCER: Riverhead soccer showcase A youth soccer showcase will be held at the Riverhead High School boys soccer varsity field behind the Pulaski Street School on Sunday, May 19. The sessions will be from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. for boys and girls from kindergarten through third grade, and from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. for boys and girls in grades 4 through 6. The cost is $5 per player.

03/20/13 3:00pm
03/20/2013 3:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead junior Carolyn Carrera scored four goals with two assists in the Blue Waves’ season-opening loss Saturday.

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.

RELATED: Defending champs return biggest team yet

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.

03/16/13 1:17pm
03/16/2013 1:17 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | From left, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Tricia Brisotti, Riverhead's Carolyn Carrera, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Audrey Hoeg and Riverhead's Isabella LoPiccolo competing for a ground ball.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | From left, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Tricia Brisotti, Riverhead’s Carolyn Carrera, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Audrey Hoeg and Riverhead’s Isabella LoPiccolo competing for a ground ball.


Some similarities can be found between the Riverhead and the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse teams. Both squads are just emerging from infancy; Riverhead is in its third varsity season, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold is in its fourth. Both teams have a go-to player they can rely on; Riverhead looks to Carolyn Carrera, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold is led by Katie Hoeg.

The most significant difference between the teams on Saturday came down to this: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold has a season-opening win, and Riverhead doesn’t.

Hoeg was a big reason, too. Athletic, talented and competitive, Hoeg could probably do well in just about any sport she plays, but she may be at her best when that sport is lacrosse, her favorite.

Hoeg, a freshman who doesn’t play like a freshman, showed her value on Saturday. The midfielder shot in 6 goals from 9 shots and had 3 assists as the Tuckers downed Riverhead, 13-10, in a non-division season opener for both teams at Cutchogue West Elementary School. She also had 3 ground balls.

“She is a leader, but without having to say much,” Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach Julie Milliman said. “She just leads by example. She is very knowledgeable of the game. She knows what to do and she makes sure her teammates know what to do. She really controls the field. And she’s unselfish at the same time. When she plays well, the team plays well.”

No surprise there.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Katie Hoeg, who had 6 goals and 3 assists in Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's season-opening win, trying to maneuver around Riverhead's Isabella LoPiccolo.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Katie Hoeg, who had 6 goals and 3 assists in Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s season-opening win, trying to maneuver around Riverhead’s Isabella LoPiccolo.

Hoeg played well as the Tuckers have already equaled their win total from last season.

“We did a good job as a team,” Hoeg said. “We improved so much from last year and we played a lot more as a team rather than as individuals.”

After falling behind, 3-1, in the opening 5 minutes 24 seconds, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold scored 4 straight goals (3 by Hoeg) to take the lead for good.

Sydney Sanders, Tricia Brisotti and Laurel Bertolas put in 2 goals apiece for the Tuckers. Audrey Hoeg, Katie’s cousin, had 1 goal and 2 assists. Natalie Troisi assisted twice.

“We did really well on offense,” Katie Hoeg said, “just like pacing and being patient and looking for each other.”

Nicole L’Hommedieu picked up the win in goal, making 5 saves.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold did well in draw control, holding a 17-8 advantage over Riverhead in that area.

“Honestly, it was what I expected,” Milliman said of her team’s performance. “They have come to practice ever since Day 1 and they have worked hard every day. And every day they leave better players and as a better team. I expected them to do something good on the field.”

Ashley King, a former Shoreham-Wading River star player who went on to play for Massachusetts and Louisville in college, made her debut as Riverhead’s new coach. It wasn’t a winning one despite 4 goals and 2 assists from Carrera, a junior midfielder who has verbally committed to play lacrosse and soccer for Hofstra University. Sam Brodeur added 2 goals and 1 assist, Emily Jehle and Amanda Dickerson struck for 2 goals each, and Sabina Dorr passed for 4 assists for the Blue Waves.

The loss aside, Carrera said she has seen noticeable improvement in the Blue Waves since last year.

“We have a lot of potential,” she said. “Of course, I’m disappointed in the loss. A loss you can always improve on, but I’m not disappointed in the team. We’re in this together. We’re a family. We’re coming through this.”

King said turnovers hurt Riverhead, but she liked what she saw from players like Carrera, defenseman Michelle Danowski (“She’s an unbelievable, aggressive little fireball”) and attackman Sabina Dorr.

In the game’s final minutes, with the win secure, the Tuckers passed the ball around like veterans, draining the remaining time off the clock.

“We showed that we know how to win,” Milliman said. “We’ve never really been up at the end of a game and really had to kill time. Usually the other team is passing around on us out of mercy and feeling bad. We really showed that we can control the game when we want to.”

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