10/28/13 7:00pm
10/28/2013 7:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Erin Blomberg works the ball up field as Miller Place sophomore Alyssa Parrella defends.


Five weeks ago it would have seemed implausible for the Shoreham-Wading River field hockey team to be where it was Monday. The Wildcats were 1-5 then and staring at the bottom half of the Division III standings.

But a remarkable turnaround, which saw the Wildcats win nine of their final 10 games, propelled them to the Section XI Class B semifinals. The only bad news was the first-round playoff matchup pitted No. 4 Shoreham against the defending Long Island champion Miller Place Panthers, the same team Shoreham shocked a few weeks earlier with an overtime win to ruin their perfect season.

The Panthers, who have their sights set on a return trip to the states, weren’t about to settle for another loss to their local rivals. The Panthers rolled past Shoreham Monday, 4-0, to advance into the county championship.

The Wildcats, despite being relatively close on penalty corners, couldn’t overcome a late goal shortly before the first half ended. The Wildcats knew they had little room for error and would likely need to win a 1-0 game in order to prevail. The air came out after Miller Place struck first on a goal from Maggie Revera. A minute later, Ariana Espositio scored another and the Wildcats went into halftime down 2-0, a mountainous deficit against Miller Place.

Ally Hutzler scored twice in the second half for Miller Place, which will play Sayville Thursday for the county crown. Sayville won 4-1 against Rocky Point Monday.

The Panthers finished with a 13-8 advantage on penalty corners. Shoreham goalkeeper Emily DeGennaro made 11 saves.

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10/01/13 8:54pm
10/01/2013 8:54 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Sydney Kito controls the ball against East Islip Tuesday.

The Riverhead field hockey team hadn’t allowed a goal in four straight games heading into Tuesday. During that stretch, the Blue Waves outscored their opponents 10-0.

For that streak to continue, the Blue Waves knew it would take a supreme effort Tuesday. The East Islip Redmen arrived in Riverhead second in power points in Division II behind only West Islip. When the two teams met the first time around in early September, East Islip ran away with a 6-1 win. The six goals equaled the number Riverhead allowed over the next seven games heading into the rematch Tuesday.

While the Blue Waves couldn’t pull out the victory this time, they showed a much how much better they’ve gotten. East Islip won 4-2, snapping Riverhead’s winning streak at four.

Riverhead got goals from Maria Dillingham and Amanda Baron. Brianna DeMeo scored twice for East Islip.

The Blue Waves fell to 4-4 in Division II and 5-5 overall. East Islip is 7-1 in Division II and 7-2 overall.

09/07/13 1:14pm
09/07/2013 1:14 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Maria Dillingham passes the ball between Shoreham’s Erin Blomberg and goalie Emily DeGennero to teammate Katelyn Zaneski, hidden at the moment behind the goalie, for the game-winning goal.


Riverhead junior Maria Dillingham considered joining the cross country team this fall. It would have been a decision hard for anyone to question.

As a distance runner in winter and spring track, Dillingham was routinely one of the fastest girls for the Blue Waves. In the Division III Championship last spring, she finished fifth in the difficult 2,000-meter steeplechase event.

“I thought I was going to run cross country until I went to running camp,” Dillingham said. “And I was like, ‘This isn’t for me.’ ”

The cross country team’s loss is the field hockey team’s gain.

The speed that makes Dillingham an outstanding track athlete also helps her excel as a forward in field hockey. Her speed helped set up the game-winning goal in overtime Saturday morning as the Blue Waves opened the 2013 season with a 1-0 non-league victory over Shoreham-Wading River.

Dillingham raced through a pair of Shoreham defenders on a breakaway before crossing a pass in front of the goal to sophomore Katelyn Zaneski, who knocked the ball into the net for the game’s lone goal.

“Dillingham is really, really quick and when she’s on, she’s on,” said Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards. “Zaneski, what she does very well is her touches. She has a beautiful stick in there so if the ball is fed to her she can touch it right into the goal.”

The Blue Waves hope the combination of Dillingham and Zaneski can create plenty of scoring chances this year.

“Dynamic duo over here,” Dillingham said with a laugh.

Whether it’s Dillingham or Zaneski carrying the ball up field, they each know they can count on their teammate being in the right spot to receive a pass.

“It depends on what side the ball is,” Zaneski said.

“She can carry across to me or I carry across to her,” Dillingham added.

The two teamed up for the game-winner with 4:35 left in overtime. In the 10-minute extra session, the teams play only six players on the field plus a goalie. That opens up the game and creates more breakaway opportunities.

Just the kind of game that allows Dillingham and Zaneski to excel.

“You need a quick team out there,” Walsh-Edwards said. “Dillingham can get a breakaway and if Zaneski is in the right spot, she’s going to score. It is exciting. It’s something hopefully we can build on as the season goes on.”

Zaneski was called up from JV midway through last season. She scored her first varsity goal in a 5-0 win over Greenport last October.

This, though, was her most dramatic goal of her young career.

“It’s a lot harder game moving up from JV,” Zaneski said.

As a freshman last year Zaneski got a taste of what varsity play was like as a reserve. This year, she’ll take on a much bigger role as a starter.

“I think she’s stronger,” Walsh-Edwards said. “A year older has made a lot of difference. She has a little bit more finesse up there with her stick. She definitely has things to work on. She’s young, but I’m looking forward to working with her.”

Saturday’s game was the first live game-action for both teams. Neither team was able to get a scrimmage in before the start of the season.

The Wildcats came out of the gates sharper and had several good scoring chances in the first half that they couldn’t convert. By the time the second half started, the Blue Waves began to get their legs under them and generate some chances of their own.

“We did everything to win the game,” said Shoreham coach J.M. Jackson. “We had more corners, more shots and controlled the ball. I’d say 95 percent of the first half was being able to finish.”

All four of Riverhead’s penalty corners came in the second half and overtime. The Wildcats had six corners.

Saturday’s game was the varsity debut for two Shoreham freshmen who have bright futures. Forward Taylor Flanagan and midfielder Melissa Manzello both got a lot of playing time, including in overtime.

“I think they’re going to have very good careers,” Jackson said. “They play well with each other and they’re very skilled for a young age.”

During the Wildcats’ recent heyday, including a run of four straight county championships from 2007-10, they often had the Blue Waves’ number — along with most every other team.

But the Blue Waves finally broke through last year and won a game against Shoreham on penalty strokes. Beating the Wildcats again Saturday was an ideal way to start the season for Riverhead.

“This year it was our turn,” Dillingham said.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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