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.


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.”


03/26/13 7:00pm
03/26/2013 7:00 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River seniors Kim Pflumm (left) and Amanda DeGennaro signed letters of intent to play field hockey in college next year. Field hockey coach J.M. Jackson joined the girls for a signing ceremony Thursday.

Two Shoreham-Wading River field hockey players signed letters on intent to continue playing their sport in college next fall. Senior Amanda DeGennaro, a midfielder/forward, signed with Dowling College and defenseman Kim Pflumm signed with Mercyhurst University.

The two girls helped lead the Wildcats into the playoffs last fall, where they won one game before falling to Miller Place, the team that went on to the state semifinals.

Pflumm followed in her sister Emily’s footsteps to Mercyhurst. Emily is a junior on the lacrosse team.

“I was really interested in [Mercyhurst] for a while,” Pflumm said. “So it was always one of my No. 1 choices.”

Shoreham coach J.M. Jackson said Pflumm is a calm, yet tenacious player.

“She can keep her composure, which in any high school sport is an excellent trait to have,” he said. “She’s just a very calm player, especially on defense.”

DeGennaro was a key player offensively for the Wildcats last season with nine points.

Jackson said DeGennaro is “all fire.”

“In the role that she plays on the team where she is on the field, that’s what you want to have,” he said. “Somebody driving the middle of the field and getting the ball on the net.”

Jackson said both players will “be very sorely missed next year.”

Next year will be the inaugural season for Dowling’s field hockey program. Former Southampton varsity coach Kim Hannigan will be the team’s first coach.



02/12/13 11:00am
02/12/2013 11:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Amanda Graziano signed to play field hockey at Mercy College next year. She also plans to play softball. Her mother, Diane, and father, John, joined her for a signing ceremony at the high school last Thursday.

As a field hockey player for Riverhead, Amanda Graziano could play any position — midfield, defense or forward. Her versatility and leadership were key factors in the Blue Waves’ tremendous season in the fall that landed them a spot in the postseason.

While Riverhead’s playoff loss to Centereach may have been the final game for Graziano as a Blue Wave, her field hockey career is just beginning. Graziano signed to play field hockey at Mercy College, where she’ll take on the challenge of playing two sports.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Amanda Graziano will return as the Blue Waves’ starting pitcher this spring.

Graziano, an all-conference field hockey player in the fall, will also play softball in college. She received partial scholarships from both programs.

In softball Graziano has led the Blue Waves on the mound, where she’ll return this spring looking to guide the team into the postseason after narrowly missing out last year.

Riverhead field hockey coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said Graziano was one of the key players in Riverhead’s 10-4 regular season.

“She has very strong fundamentals, is very coachable, has an outstanding work ethic, and is very competitive — with a strong will to win,” she said. “I’m very proud of her accomplishments.”

In softball Graziano also played the past four years for the Long Island Anthem travel team. In college she plans to major in physical therapy.

Graziano has followed in the footsteps of her mother, Diane, who also played field hockey, softball and basketball. In 1988 Graziano’s mother was the News-Review’s Female Athlete of the Year. She was all-league in all three sports as a senior.


Amanda Graziano's mother, Diane, was the News-Review's 1988 Female Athlete of the Year for Riverhead.

Amanda Graziano’s mother, Diane, was the News-Review’s 1988 Female Athlete of the Year for Riverhead.

11/24/12 8:00am
11/24/2012 8:00 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | At Shoreham-Wading River Debi-Michelle Jantzen won four county titles. As a freshman at Princeton last weekend, she won a Division I national championship.

FIELD HOCKEY: National champs Shoreham-Wading River graduate Debi-Michelle Jantzen won the Division I field hockey national championship Sunday as a member of the Princeton field hockey team. Princeton defeated North Carolina 3-2 in the championship game in Norfolk, Va. to claim to program’s first national title.

Jantzen, a freshman midfielder, played in 14 games this season for Princeton. She scored one goal and had one assist.

Princeton went 21-1 this season and won a 3-2 overtime game against Maryland last Friday in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.

At Shoreham Jantzen was one of the most prolific players to ever come through the program. A six-year varsity player, she helped lead the Wildcats to four county championships. She was Long Island’s top scorer as a junior and was a four-time all-state player.

SWIMMING: Anderson 12th Shoreham-Wading River eighth-grader Emily Anderson finished 12th overall in the 100-yard breastroke at the New York State championship last weekend in Ithaca. Anderson swam in the ‘B’ final and touched the wall in 1 minute 7.68 seconds.

Sewanhaka senior Olivia Chan won the event in automatic all-America time of 1:02.83.

Anderson was the only independent swimmer from Shoreham to qualify for the state championship.

BOYS SOCCER: Kicking in relief Two East End Football Club teams, the United ’98 under-14 boys and the Earthquakes under-13 boys, played in a fundraising tournament hosted by the East Islip Soccer Club this past weekend. All of the tournament registration fees went toward local relief efforts. In addition, teams and individuals made donations of nonperishable food and clothing. The tournament had 35 clubs and 115 teams play in 174 games that were refereed by volunteer refs from the Long Island Junior Soccer League.

11/10/12 1:22pm
11/10/2012 1:22 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Alyssa Pearce works the ball up field against Miller Place Saturday morning.


It was only a matter of time before one of the most decorated field hockey programs on Long Island returned to the top.

For much of the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000’s, the road to a county title ran directly through Miller Place. And more often than not, it was the Panthers hoisting a county trophy.

That began to change around 2006, when Shoreham-Wading River — a proud program in its own right — turned the tables on Miller Place. The Wildcats won 13 out of 15 games against the Panthers before last year, consistently ending their season in the playoffs while running off four straight county titles from 2007-10.

Now, the Panthers have flipped the script back into their favor.

After ending Shoreham’s season in the playoffs last year, the Panthers did it again Saturday morning with a 3-1 victory at Miller Place High School in the Class B semifinals. Going back to last season, the Panthers have now won five straight games against the Wildcats including all three meetings this season.

“This is definitely the strongest team they’ve had for the better part of a decade since I’ve been in the program,” said Shoreham coach J.M. Jackson. “Their program is definitely going places beyond where it was in the past.”

The Wildcats, playing less than 24 hours after a victory over Harborfields, saw their season finish at 8-8. Miller Place, the top seed in the bracket, remains undefeated at 17-0. The Panthers will play Monday for the county championship, which would be their first since 2005.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Christina Malave maintains the ball as Heather Ercolano closes in.

The Panthers feature a roster that more resembles a football team in terms of numbers than a field hockey team. Their depth across the board is hard to match and the Panthers aren’t afraid to rotate in multiple subs.

It helps fuel their high-octane pace, which was something the Wildcats hoped to avoid.

“Coming into today it was just bringing our game and being patient and not falling into the trap of playing that huge run and gun game.”

The Wildcats were more effective in the second half slowing the pace down and maintaining possession in the Miller Place end. But after giving up two goals in the first half, the Wildcats couldn’t mount enough of a comeback.

Shoreham began to earn more penalty corners in the second half and it paid off when sophomore Jessica McCormack converted after a pass from senior Christina Malave.

The goal sliced the Panthers’ lead to 2-1 with 15:42 left in the game. The Wildcats called a timeout four minutes later, regrouping to make one final push to try to tie the game.

Instead, the Panthers, after getting outworked for much of the half, put the game away with 9:18 left. After an initial shot from Miller Place was saved by Shoreham goalkeeper Kendal Conway (8 saves), the ball bounced back out toward Miller Place senior Jamie Emma. She knocked the ball toward the cage and just as it hit the goal line, junior Megan Conzalez tapped it in to push the Panthers’ lead back to two.

The Panthers were playing their first game since Oct. 23. If there was any rust from all the time off, it didn’t show.

The Panthers needed only 92 seconds to score the first goal of the game.

Senior Emily Mott scored off a rebound after a shot from junior Maggie Revera. The two teamed up for the next goal with 13:30 left in the first half, this time with Revera scoring off an assist from Mott. The play was set up off a corner.

“A corner for them is like a point,” Jackson said.

Conway was kept busy in goal for Shoreham. Late in the first half she made three straight saves on one play as the Panthers kept attacking the rebounds. In the second half after Shoreham had the cut the deficit to one, Conway made a stop on Ally Hutzler, who got behind the defense on a breakaway.

“Being her JV coach, she’s come a long way since her freshman year,” Jackson said. “I’m very proud of her. Today was her birthday so the script was written very well. Unfortunately it didn’t end I’m sure the way she wanted it to end.”

Conway was one of nine seniors for Shoreham who played their final field hockey game as a Wildcat.


11/09/12 6:31pm
11/09/2012 6:31 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Amanda Graziano works the ball up field Friday afternoon against Centereach.


After waiting 11 days to play, Riverhead High School’s field hockey season ended on Friday as the Blue Waves dropped a 2-0 decision to host Centereach in the Suffolk County Class A playoffs.

Riverhead was supposed to play this first-round game on Oct. 29, but Hurricane Sandy last week and Wednesday’s nor’easter combined to push this match back until Friday.

Colleen Leahy gave the seventh-seeded Cougars (11-4) all the scoring they needed with a goal off an Amanda Barrett assist with 16:07 remaining in the first half.

Kristin-Anne Lunghi doubled the lead after a scramble in the goal area with 16:53 left in the second half.

The 10th-seeded Blue Waves finished the season at 11-7.

Centereach will play at No. 2 Islip on Saturday.

11/09/12 6:18pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Samantha Pedulla passes the ball against Harborfields Friday afternoon in the Class B playoffs.


There were no joyous screams, no sticks hurled into the air. Certainly no pile up.

As the horn sounded on Shoreham-Wading River’s 2-0 Class B playoff victory over Harborfields (8-9) Friday afternoon, the subdued celebration didn’t seem to quite fit the moment.

But then again, after an unusually long break, and with another game in less than 24 hours, the Wildcats were more inclined to take a breath than scream.

“We really haven’t been in our flow,” said senior Christina Malave. “After that win we were all so tired and drained so we didn’t celebrate as much. Hopefully tomorrow we will.”

The condensed schedule following all the time off in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy and Wednesday’s nor’easter has the Wildcats back at it Saturday morning against No. 1 Miller Place, one of only two undefeated teams in Suffolk County.

On Friday both teams were playing their first game in more than two weeks.

“The officials even said prior to this game, we’ll give you 10 minutes to get the feel back,” said Shoreham coach J.M. Jackson, who recorded his first playoff win as a varsity coach. “They were rusty themselves, admittedly. But it comes back pretty quick. It’s like riding a bike.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham senior Christina Malave helped set up the Wildcats’ first goal Friday.

The Wildcats broke through for the game’s first goal with 18:16 left in the first half. Malave drilled a long pass from outside the circle that made its way all the way through to the goalkeeper. The goalie kicked ball out and junior Kayla Mistretta was waiting right there on the left wing to tip the ball into the cage.

“She’s always in the right position,” Malave said. “She did a great job finishing that off. The goalie wasn’t even there. She was all by herself.”

Mistretta had just been inserted into the game about a minute earlier.

Jackson said Mistretta has been working hard the last few weeks on those type of plays. During warmups Jackson said he saw Mistretta tip a ball in on a similar play.

“I said it doesn’t matter if you miss every one two weeks prior,” Jackson said. “It’s what you do on gameday. And that carried over.”

Malave, a center midfielder, said she loves her position, which allows her to set up other players for scoring opportunities.

“I like giving the assists a lot better because it’s making a play and giving the goal to someone else,” she said. “I like seeing [the forwards] finish. It’s a great position to be in.”

Jackson said finishing chances in front of the goal was a key focus during the extended break.

“We spent the last four to six practices just in front of the goal,” he said. “We’d get the ball up field, we just weren’t closing out. So it’s come to fruition a little bit.”

The Tornadoes, a Division I team that the Wildcats don’t play in the regular season, kept the pressure on in the second half. They generated eight penalty corners in the second half after three in the first.

The Wildcats spent a good portion of the second half in their defensive end. But the defense never broke.

“We just kept pumping each other up,” Malave said. “Kendal [Conway] our goalie was doing a great job of saving the ball at all times. Even though we were breaking up the plays with our feet or a high ball, we were still breaking up the play. That was our main point, just get the ball out of the circle.”

Conway finished with six saves in the shutout.

Jackson said they knew coming into the game that the Tornadoes were quick and aggressive.

“You could see they definitely worked very hard to get tons of corners,” he said.

The Wildcats (8-7) had four penalty corners.

The Wildcats added an insurance goal with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the game when senior Alex Fehmel tipped in a shot from senior Alyssa Pearce.

“When you get that second one it’s such a relief,” said Malave, a four-year varsity player.

On Saturday Shoreham will face the team that ended its season last year in the playoffs. Miller Place also won two games against the Wildcats this season, 3-0 and 2-1. Game time is 10 a.m.

“They kicked us out last year first round of playoffs so that was pretty bitter for us,” Malave said.

The winner of Saturday’s game will play for the county title Monday against No. 2 Rocky Point or No. 3 Sayville.


11/08/12 12:22pm
11/08/2012 12:22 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead sophomore Danielle Napoli works the ball up field against Sachem North earlier this year.

The Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River field hockey teams had their playoff games Thursday pushed back because of poor field conditions following the nor’easter that dumped snow across the region.

No. 10 Riverhead will play at 2 p.m. Friday at No. 7 Centereach in Class A.

No. 4 Shoreham will host No. 5 Harborfields at 2 p.m. Friday in Class B.

Not every game in the county was postponed. The McGann-Mercy girls volleyball team will still play Mattituck today in the Class C playoffs at 4 p.m.