10/28/14 5:21pm
10/28/2014 5:21 PM
Riverhead's freshman goalie, Rachel Bornstein, making only her second career start, was kept busy by Sachem East's relentless attack. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Riverhead’s freshman goalie, Rachel Bornstein, making only her second career start, was kept busy by Sachem East’s relentless attack. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS A QUARTERFINAL | FLAMING ARROWS 7, BLUE WAVES 0

Being a high school field hockey team that plays its home games on a grass field, Riverhead prepared for the playoffs by participating in a scrimmage at Rocky Point High School and practicing at Eastport/South Manor High School, which both have field turf. But, playing surfaces aside, there was perhaps nothing that could have prepared the Blue Waves for what they faced on Tuesday.

It wasn’t the field turf at Sachem East High School that proved troublesome for the Blue Waves so much as the Sachem East team that played on it. (more…)

09/09/14 5:00pm
09/09/2014 5:00 PM
Amanda Baron, a four-year starter, anchors Riverhead's defense at left back. (Robert O'Rourk photo)

Amanda Baron, a four-year starter, anchors Riverhead’s defense at left back. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

PREVIEW

After reaching the high school field hockey playoffs last year, Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards has a simple, yet straightforward goal for the Blue Waves this year: Go further into the postseason. (more…)

09/04/13 7:00pm
09/04/2013 7:00 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Jessica McCormack, right, is one of five returning starters for Shoreham-Wading River.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Jessica McCormack, right, is one of five returning starters for Shoreham-Wading River.

PREVIEW

Scoring goals can be a tricky thing. And tricky can become downright frustrating if the ball refuses to go into the goal.

Sometimes a field hockey team will do just about everything right, outshoot its opponent, accumulate more penalty corners and, in the end, still not have a goal or enough goals to show for their efforts.

The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats know the feeling only too well.

Finishing was an issue last year for Shoreham-Wading River, which reached the second round of the playoffs before losing to Miller Place and ending up with an 8-7 record.

“We lost games we shouldn’t have lost last year,” said J. M. Jackson, who is in his second year of running the varsity team after serving as Shoreham’s junior varsity coach for eight years. “We were getting our opportunities, but we just weren’t finishing. If you’re not finishing, it can kind of gnaw at you.”

Two of the team’s captains are junior forward Erin Blomberg and senior defender Alexandra Pagano. They were starters last year along with sophomore defender Gabrielle Campo, junior midfielder Jessica McCormack and senior defender Samantha Pedulla. McCormack was named to the all-county tournament team.

Another captain is senior midfielder/forward Kayla Mistretta, who Jackson called an “underrated player.” Alexandra Hutchins, a junior forward who took last season off, was a pleasant surprise when she rejoined the team in a winter league. Emily DeGennaro, the backup goalie last year, moves into the starting role as a junior. “She totally has the ability to steal games,” said Jackson.

Jackson said the Wildcats, who are seeded seventh in Suffolk County Division II, have more positional depth than they did a year ago.

So much will depend, however, on how the Wildcats handle their scoring opportunities. Jackson understands the harsh reality of field hockey. “At the end of the day, the team that has the most goals wins,” he said. “If we finish, I definitely think we can do well.”

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Maria Dillingham, an all-conference center forward who was one of the top scorers in Suffolk County last year, is one of the players Riverhead is building around.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Maria Dillingham, an all-conference center forward who was one of the top scorers in Suffolk County last year, is one of the players Riverhead is building around.

It took Riverhead several years to reach the playoffs last year, and judging by what the team lost following its first-round defeat to Centereach, it will not be easy to make a return trip this fall.

The Blue Waves graduated five core players who have been stalwarts in the program: Christy Brewer, Amanda Graziano, Christina Sacchitello, Corinne Kimmelman and Rebecca Reilly. Brewer, who was an all-county choice, is playing for SUNY/Cortland. Graziano (Mercy College), Sacchitello (Southern New Hampshire) and Kimmelman (SUNY/Oswego) are also playing in college.

That’s a big drain of experience and talent for a team to absorb.

“It’s a change this year,” coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said. “I do see it see it as a lot of rebuilding now.”

At the same time, it’s not a bad thing to have to rebuild with players like Danielle Napoli and Maria Dillingham. Napoli, a junior center midfielder, was an all-division player last year. Dillingham, a junior center forward, was all-conference and one of the top scorers in Suffolk.

“She’s a speedy Gonzalez,” Walsh-Edwards said. “She’s very fast.”

Riverhead, seeded ninth in restructured Suffolk Division II, also has defender Jessica Cheatom, defender Shannon Harden, forward Katelynn Zaneski, defender Sydney Kito, midfielder Amanda Baron, defender Rashae Smith and midfielder Emily Massa back from a team that won its last six regular-season games in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Dillingham, Napoli and Baron are all entering their third varsity year as juniors.

The new players looking to make their mark are goalie Paige Hubbard, forward Carley Hayon, forward Milce Garcia, defender Olivia Serpico, defender Madison Blom and defender Emily Pearce. Walsh-Edwards said she was not sure what positions Marissa Palermo and Amanda Dickerson will play.

With strong teams like Smithtown East and East Islip to contend with, Riverhead will have its hands full with a roster that is short on experience. Regardless, Walsh-Edwards sounded optimistic about the seasons to come.

“I’m really excited about the future,” she said. “It’s a strong freshman class.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

09/13/11 12:55pm
09/13/2011 12:55 PM

BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO | Melodee Riley led Riverhead with 13 goals last season and received all-county honorable mention.

There are no bull’s-eyes hanging in the Shoreham-Wading River field hockey team’s locker room with Garden City logos plastered across them. For four straight seasons the Wildcats have fallen in the Long Island championship game to the Trojans, consistently one of the best teams in the state.

As they begin a new season this year, the Wildcats’ thoughts remain far removed from any chance of redemption that may come their way in November.

“We keep our goals to the regular season,” said Shoreham Coach Lea Calligeros. “We don’t talk about anything but making the playoffs. We don’t talk about anything beyond that.”

That emphasis on the present has helped the Wildcats maintain near flawless regular-reason records. They approach each game with a clear focus, always respecting the opponent’s capability. And in a sport where one goal is often the difference between victory and defeat, they’ve time and time again emerged on top even as the bull’s-eye is centered on them.

The Wildcats open the 2011 season in pursuit of a fifth straight county title and ninth in school history. While they lost 11 players from last season, they return two of the best in Suffolk County. Seniors Debi-Michelle Jantzen and Kaitlyn Taddeo are two versatile players who can dominate up and down the field. Mostly, though, they make their biggest impact where it matters most: by scoring.

Jantzen, an all-American last season, led Long Island in points last year with 42. She was also a first-team all-Long Island player. In the Wildcats’ county championship win against previously unbeaten Sayville last fall, Jantzen scored three goals.

Taddeo, a two-time all-county player, finished last season with 30 points and was the fourth highest scorer in the county.

“They’ve been with me for a long time,” Calligeros said. “We’re ready for our last hurrah together.”

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Last season Kaitlyn Taddeo tallied 30 points for Shoreham-Wading River, the fourth-highest point total in Suffolk County.

Senior Kristin Torres, who plays defense, is another key returnee. An all-division player, Torres contributed offensively as well last year with 10 assists. Most of those came via penalty corners, where Torres was key in setting up shots for her teammates.

Senior Amanda Hearney returns to play forward and a newcomer to the team is senior Alyssa Fleming, who is in her first year playing field hockey.

“Alyssa’s been a great addition to our team,” Calligeros said. “She’s a hard worker, upbeat, positive personality.”

The bulk of the team is made up of juniors, most of whom are returnees to varsity.

Junior Christina Malave returns on defense where she started last year. In goal the Wildcats turn to a new starter in Kendal Conway, who was a backup last season.

“She’s worked hard in the off-season,” Calligeros said. “I think she just needs a little experience. She really knows the position.”

The Wildcats will open the season Thursday at home against Port Jefferson.

Calligeros said she expects the competition in Division III to be just as strong as it has been in the past.

“It’ll be a challenging season as usual,” she said. “We’re a strong division and I think that’s what helps us in playoffs as a group is that we’re pretty battle ready by the end of the season.”

For the second straight year, the Riverhead Blue Waves finished in seventh place in Division III, and for the second straight year, they fell one agonizing place shy of a coveted playoff berth.

So, again, the Blue Waves are seeded seventh in the division — for the second year in a row.

“We’re always talking about this year being our year or next year being our year,” Riverhead Coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said. “I’m hoping it’s this year. It’s the same type of situation where we need to beat the people below us, definitely, and upset a team that’s ahead of us in order to try to get in there.”

Of course, that is easier said than done in a division that includes the likes of Shoreham-Wading River, the Miller Place Panthers, the Comsewogue Warriors and the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers. The Blue Waves, who lost only two players from last year’s team, are determined, but determination alone isn’t enough to reach the playoffs.

“I don’t think there’s one of them that doesn’t want it, and they’re all working hard towards it,” Walsh-Edwards said. “… But they know what we’re up against. We’re in a tough division. We have a very tough schedule. You can’t take anything for granted.”

Melodee Riley, a senior forward, led Riverhead with 13 goals last season and was rewarded with all-county honorable mention. The third-year varsity player can run like a deer.

“She’s just a phenomenal athlete,” Walsh-Edwards said. “She’s like lightning, works very hard in practice. She’s good at whatever she does.”

Junior midfielders Christy Brewer and Amanda Graziano were both all-league choices. Brittney Baron, a senior midfielder, is in her fourth year of varsity play. Allison Doscinski, the senior goaltender who posted several shutouts last season, is another returning starter along with senior forward Sabrina Harris, junior defender Christina Sacchitello and junior defender/forward Corinne Kimmelman.

Riverhead is blessed with experience. Defenders Vanessa Martin, Jenna Kockenmeister and Rebecca Kerr-Smith as well as forwards Jocelyn Zaneski and Sydney Kito are also back for another season.

Five new players have been added to the squad: goaltender Maria Dillingham, defender Gabriella Serpico, midfielder/defender Danielle Napoli and forwards Rebecca Reilly and Amanda Baron.

“Their passing game, it’s something that we’ve been working on,” Walsh-Edwards said. “To move to the next level, we definitely have to improve that.”

“I’m excited,” she continued. “I think we have a lot of pockets of speed out there. If we get the stick skills up to our speed, hopefully we can reach our goal.”

Bob Liepa contributed to this article.