09/06/13 5:00pm
09/06/2013 5:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera will anchor the Blue Waves’ defense this season as goalkeeper.

A program still trying to gain traction in the competitive landscape of Suffolk County girls soccer, the Riverhead Blue Waves opted to join the developmental league last year.

That meant no shot at the playoffs, but it also meant a few more wins and competitive games. The developmental league, which featured schools from across the county that would have struggled in their respective leagues, was originally thought to be a two-year commitment for Riverhead.

But the Blue Waves will find themselves back in League III this year, against teams like Smithtown East, Half Hollow Hills West and West Islip. Placement for schools is done on a year-by-year basis, according to Section XI assistant director Donald Webster. The schools must request to join a league such as the developmental league, Webster said.

Riverhead coach Hassan Olowu said he found out the team would be out of the developmental league, which still exists, during the summer. Olowu said they plan to take another look at the developmental league after this season.

“We’re trying to keep our development going,” he said. “But we do use this as a measuring stick to see where we are as a team. A couple of the girls are going to be here for a couple of years. We’re going to see where we are as a group and then reevaluate at the end of the season.”

The developmental league this year features Amityville, Central Islip, William Floyd, Southampton, Hampton Bays and Copiague.

Olowu, who’s entering his third year as varsity coach, said the team is looking forward to the opportunity to take on greater competition.

“We are looking to start the league with a blast,” he said. “We’re going to be very forceful and we’re going at every team.”

The Blue Waves will rely on the veteran experience of goalkeeper Carolyn Carrera to anchor their defense. A Hofstra University recruit for both soccer and lacrosse, Carrera will serve as team captain this year.

“She gives the team a quiet kind of confidence,” Olowu said.

The Blue Waves will get a boost this fall with the return of junior Katie McKillop, who had her entire year wiped out last year while she recovered from an injury. McKillop can play anywhere on the field and will see time up front and in the midfield.

Sophomore Aleah Gonzalez will be relied on to provide some of the offense for the Blue Waves, who lost their leading scorer to graduation.

Senior Emily Jehle returns at center midfield. Sophomore Kelly Garcia will play in both the midfield and on defense and sophomore Keily Molina will play in the midfield.

The Blue Waves open the non-league season Sept. 11 against Rocky Point. The league season begins Sept. 12 at home against Newfield.

“We have a few tough games but I’m quite sure the girls can handle it,” Olowu said. “They’re a tough bunch.”

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River freshman Alex Kuhnle takes a shot in the first half of Tuesday's summer league game against Sayville.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Alex Kuhnle takes a shot in a summer league game against Sayville in July.

It had been a long time since the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats underwent a true rebuilding year. Before last season, the Wildcats had strung together a consistent run of playoff appearances.

That streak came to an end when the Wildcats finished one point shy of a playoff spot last season in a year where most of the team’s losses were by one goal.

“I think losing such key players the year before, they didn’t have the confidence they have now,” said Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore.

After a busy offseason and a successful summer league, the Wildcats return the core of last year’s team with more experience and the confidence to take the next step back to becoming a playoff team.

To make that happen requires an obvious solution: score more goals. Executing that is the tricker part.

“This offseason we really worked on shooting and playing in and around the 18,” Gilmore said. “Just having that confidence to take more shots.”

The Wildcats have plenty of talent spread across the field. Junior Courtney Clasen has been a key player the past two years and will be relied upon in the midfield and as a goal scorer.

Sophomore Meghan Kelly can provide goal scoring for Shoreham. Kelly had an impressive season last year as a ninth-grader on varsity and put in double-digit goals during the summer league.

Freshman Alex Kuhnle should help increase scoring chances. Kuhnle played on the varsity summer league team and quickly made an impression.

She showed off a strong left foot and a tremendous ability to place the ball where she wants it.

“She has great ball skills and I’m excited to see her play with the full team,” Gilmore said.

Kuhnle will be a key player on both ends of the field for Shoreham.

On defense, the Wildcats return senior Kate Birkmire at sweeper. Senior Logan Hoffman, who played mostly in the midfield last year, will switch to stopper on defense this year.

“She’s kind of my voice on the field,” Gilmore said.

In the net, the Wildcats return senior Kelly Wynkoop, a varsity starter since her freshman season.

The Wildcats have a smaller roster this year than in the past, with 19 girls on varsity and 16 on JV. Gilmore said the future still looks bright, though, with a big group of athletes currently in eighth grade. At Shoreham, eighth-graders can’t move up to JV, only to varsity if they’re deemed capable of playing at that level.

In League VI this year the Wildcats will face the typically strong competition like Miller Place and Bayport-Blue Point.

Shoreham will play two scrimmages before the season begins Sept. 11 with a non-league game Eastport-South Manor. The league season kicks off Sept. 16 against John Glenn.


07/31/13 1:49am
07/31/2013 1:49 AM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Kerri Clark was involved in the give-and-go that led to Emily Sopko's goal.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Kerri Clark was involved in the give-and-go that led to Emily Sopko’s goal.

The Shoreham-Wading River High School girls soccer coach, Adrian Gilmore, enjoyed a rare luxury in her team’s game against Miller Place  on Tuesday night. She was able to deploy a full starting 11 in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League playoff match at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.

Despite the opposition having three substitutes and the Wildcats none, Shoreham managed to secure a 1-0 victory, handing Miller Place (8-1-1) its first defeat of the summer and move into the quarterfinals.

For their previous game, a 2-0 victory over Port Jefferson, the Wildcats used only eight players.

“We always have no subs or play down a player,” midfielder Courtney Clasen said. “We play through it.”

The Wildcats (5-5) will play Sayville (9-1) at The Wedge in Mount Sinai on Thursday evening. Sayville, which recorded a 1-0 playoff win over Port Jefferson on Tuesday, defeated Shoreham during the regular season, 1-0.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Emily Sopko, who scored the lone goal in the win over Miller Place.

Gilmore agreed, saying Sayville was “a tough competitor. I didn’t have my goalie and we lost on a penalty kick. We’ll see what Thursday brings. I’m excited.”

“Again, I don’t remember having that many subs standing next to us,” Gilmore said, laughing.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Theresa Bender of Shoreham-Wading River making a pass during her team's 1-0 playoff win over Miller Place.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Theresa Bender of Shoreham-Wading River making a pass during her team’s 1-0 playoff win over Miller Place.

That has been a theme this summer for the Wildcats. Since the Brookhaven League does not demand mandatory attendance and players go on vacation and have summer jobs and other commitments, it’s not unusual for teams to field shorthanded teams.

Shoreham had to forfeit one game at Sachem because only six girls showed up.

“We had to drive all the way to Sachem,” goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop said. “It was pouring rain. There was only six of us huddled under an umbrella. It’s always we don’t have enough girls. We have the talent, it’s just people have other things going on and they can’t show up.”

When Tuesday’s game kicked off, Shoreham had all of its players in the starting lineup. Miller Place had three players on the bench and its coach substituted freely.

Because there were no substitutes available, every Shoreham player knew she would have to go the full 60 minutes in the game of two 30-minute halves. In fact, the Wildcats were forced to go down to 10 players early in the second half when Taylor Chaimowitz was taken out for six minutes after sustaining an ankle injury.

“I just play until I know it’s over,” said Clasen, a three-sport star who also competes in basketball and track. “I don’t really think about it. I just play. If I’m dying, I just think, ‘Well if we win this we go on.’ ”

Added Sopko: “We just think about winning the game and moving forward in the season. We think about the season coming up. We just hope that we’re this good.”

Shoreham was missing three starters who were on vacation — sweeper Kate Birkmire, striker Megan Kelly, who has been tied as the league’s leading goal scorer, and incoming freshman Alexandra Kuhnie.

But the Wildcats came through. Wynkoop grabbed everything that was shot or sent her way. Clasen set the pace in the midfield and Sopko tallied midway through the opening half.

“They do a great job of possessing the ball, playing to feet and I think a difference tonight, just playing smart,” Gilmore said.

Sopko broke the deadlock with 14 minutes 9 seconds remaining in the first half as she scored inside the penalty area on a give-and-go with Kerri Clark.

Sopko admitted she did not remember much about her goal. “When I shoot and score, I don’t really think about it,” she said. “I just worry about getting the ball into the back of the net.”

Last season the Wildcats struggled at times, dropping several games by a goal. But given a promising talent pool and the encouraging summer results, Gilmore was optimistic for the fall as she walked off the artificial turf field on a beautiful summer night.

“It’s a good indicator of how they look for the fall and our JV team is in first place for summer league also, so that just speaks for the talent that’s coming up throughout the program,” she said.

07/23/13 9:58pm
07/23/2013 9:58 PM

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Alex Kuhnle takes a shot in the first half of Tuesday’s summer league game against Sayville.

The Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team was never overpowered last year, even in a rare down year that ended without a trip to the postseason. Only once did the Wildcats lose a game by more than one goal.

The problem, generally, tended to be scoring.

“I think they thought because they lost all those seniors, Kari [Quinn] and Shannon [McDonnell], I think they thought they weren’t going to be as good as they really were,” said Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore.

A year older and wiser, and having lost only two regular contributors from last year’s team, the Wildcats are poised to take a step forward going into the fall season.

Judging by their performance in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, the Wildcats believe they can create more offense this year.

One reason for optimism is the return of sophomore Meghan Kelly, who tallied 10 goals in the summer to tie for the league lead.

Another has been the emergence of freshman Alex Kuhnle, who has quickly made an impression on Gilmore.

Kuhnle easily stood out Tuesday against Sayville playing left halfback in a shortened game that was twice-delayed by weather. Sayville won 1-0 on a second-half penalty kick at Patchogue-Medford Youth Complex.

Gilmore said she had heard of Kuhnle and knew she was a talented player, but hadn’t seen her in action until the summer league. A skilled lefty, Kuhnle plays on a number of different soccer teams throughout the year.

“She’s very unselfish,” Gilmore said. “There have been times where I thought maybe she should have shot the ball and she passed it.”

Kelly and Kuhnle represent a young core for the Wildcats to build around for the next few seasons.

“I’m excited to see the combination of her and Meghan up front,” Gilmore said.

Kuhnle had the best scoring chance for Shoreham against Sayville when her shot off a rebound was stopped by a diving goalkeeper. It set up Shoreham’s lone corner kick.

The Wildcats (4-5) haven’t had as many players on the varsity summer team as in years past, which led to two of their losses being forfeits. As tends to be the case in summer league, each game is often a mishmash of different players.

Midfielder Courtney Clasen played in goal Tuesday in the absence of senior Kelly Wynkoop, who was away on a college function.

Clasen will be another key player in the midfield during the regular season, and one player who Gilmore hopes can provide a few more goals.

“She’s outstanding,” Gilmore said. “She’s started and played every game since she’s been in ninth grade. She shoots that ball and I think it will all come together very nicely.”

With most of last year’s team returning, Gilmore said she doesn’t plan on keeping a very large varsity roster in the fall, which will make for some intense competition in tryouts.

In the summer league, Shoreham’s junior varsity team has 29 players, Gilmore said. Most are going into either eighth or ninth grade, Gilmore said.

“It looks like we’re going to have a couple good years of some good athletes coming up,” Gilmore said.


06/11/13 7:00pm
06/11/2013 7:00 PM

RIVERHEAD COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead senior Ashley Drozd, accompanied by her parents Mike and Lisa Drozd, signed to play soccer at Saint Peter’s University, a Division I college. High school principal David Wicks, varsity coach Hassan Oiawu, Ashley’s 8th grade soccer coach Maria Dounelis and guidance counselor Chris Martin joined her for a signing ceremony.

As a five-year varsity player, Ashley Drozd left behind a lasting legacy on the Riverhead girls soccer program. A team MVP as a junior and senior, Drozd set multiple school records during her career, including career goals with 43.

After a stellar career with the Blue Waves, Drozd will continue playing soccer beginning next fall at Saint Peter’s University. Drozd signed a letter of intent last week to continue her soccer career at the Division I school in Jersey City, N.J.

Drozd, who is in the top 11 percent of her graduating class, will receive partial scholarships for academics as well as athletics. She plans to major in biology with an eye toward becoming a physical therapist.

Drozd leaves Riverhead with the record for most goals in a game (5) as well as most goals in a season (23). She was an all-conference and two-time all-league player for the Blue Waves.

10/02/12 8:37pm
10/02/2012 8:37 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Ashley Drozd scored a goal with an assist in Tuesday’s loss against Central Islip.


It’s not like Riverhead coach Hassan Olowu didn’t expect the physical play to pick up in the second half Tuesday afternoon against Central Islip. If anything, he would have been shocked if it didn’t.

The Blue Waves led 2-0, controlling play for most of the game, and forcing the Musketeers into a desperate position to get back into the game.

“They needed to impose their game, they needed to get their offensive players more possession,” he said. “So we knew the second half was going to be more about the one-on-one battles and we did the best we could to make sure that all the players that we knew could cause problems for us were contained. For the most part we did do that.”

As the momentum began to sway toward Central Islip (5-1) midway through the second half, the Musketeers finally broke through with about 15 minutes left when Maria Vela converted a long pass from near midfield. Vela was open in front at the left of the net and knocked the pass perfectly inside the far post to beat Riverhead goalkeeper Carolyn Carrera.

The Musketeers kept the pressure on, stringing together two more goals less than a minute apart to cap a stunning comeback and walk away from Riverhead High School with a 3-2 victory on a rainy afternoon.

“It was definitely our most physical game,” Olowu said of playing Central Islip. “In terms of both physicality and maybe offensive skills, it was about as good as it gets.”

The Musketeers tried to rough up Riverhead forward Ashley Drozd whenever she got the ball with a chance to make a play. Drozd still finished with an assist and goal while peppering the Central Islip goal with shots all game.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead midfielder Megan Weiss heads the ball toward the Central Islip goal.

Drozd, who has 10 of the team’s 12 goals this season, had most of her shots on goal come from long distance.

“They kept her deep,” Olowu said. “They were defending very high. It was kind of difficult I think to get down the middle, but that was true of both teams.”

Olowu said Drozd had been determined from the beginning of the season. In the Blue Waves’ previous game against Amityville, she scored every Blue Wave goal in a 3-1 win. Against Hampton Bays Sept. 22 she scored a career-high four goals.

“She’s on fire right now,” Olowu said.

Drozd helped put the Blue Waves (3-2-1) on the board first in the opening half with a nifty move in the right corner to beat a defender and a send a pass into the box. Senior Kristina Stapon was in perfect position in front of the goal and headed it inside the right post for her first goal of the season.

Later in the half Drozd converted a free kick from about 25 yards out to make it 2-0.

“I’m spoiled with all the nice goals she’s scored,” Olowu said. “She doesn’t score ugly goals. All her goals are pretty.”

The Musketeers came after Riverhead in a hurry after breaking through with their first goal. Alexa Spinelli drilled a ball off the crossbar — the second Central Islip shot to hit the crossbar — and the Blue Waves couldn’t clear the ball. Aysha Shirley ended up scoring the tying goal on a rebound after Carrera dove to her left to make a save.

Less than a minute later a deep free kick from the left side by Danielle Doyle gave the Musketeers their first lead of the game. Doyle drilled the ball toward the far post and Olowu said Carrera got screened in front. The ball bounced in front of Carrera and right into the goal.

“Seeing her teammate had cut in front of her, [Carrera] let the ball go,” Olowu said. “When it bounced, it skidded right over them both. It happens.”

Olowu said Carrera, a captain along with Drozd, has been strong for the Blue Waves all season in goal, calling her “Miss Dependable.”

“She takes care of the team even when we coaches are not here,” he said. “She’s our voice on the field.”

Overall it’s been a much different season this year for Riverhead. The Blue Waves scored four goals total all of last season playing in League IV. But a move down to the developmental league in League VIII has given them an opportunity to compete against programs of similar caliber.

While the competition isn’t as a strong, being able to get some wins has given the girls confidence, Olowu said.

“We work on tactical a lot in practice,” he said. “The girls are picking it up very quickly and getting to implement it in games so I’m sure they’re really happy.”


09/29/12 3:19pm
09/29/2012 3:19 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Shannon Rosati heads the ball in a crowd Saturday morning against Bayport-Blue Point.


Junior goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop made 14 saves, but that was not enough to stop Bayport-Blue Point from recording a 1-0 win over host Shoreham-Wading River in a Suffolk County League VI girls soccer game on Saturday morning.

Junior forward Nicole Copping scored the lone goal of the match with 27:30 remaining in the first half.

The Wildcats (0-4 League VI, 1-4 overall) pushed for an equalizer in the second half, but fell short against Bayport (3-1-1, 3-0-1). It was the second straight shutout for the Wildcats after falling 1-0 at Mattituck Thursday night.

Shoreham visits Mt. Sinai at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Read a full story in next week’s Riverhead News-Review.

09/24/12 10:59pm
09/24/2012 10:59 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Mercy sophomore Claire Sullivan scored the Monarchs’ lone goal Monday in a loss against East Hampton.


Before the start of Monday night’s non-league game at McGann-Mercy High School, East Hampton coach Mike Vitulli reminded his players how since a victory to begin the season, the Bonackers had dropped three straight. All without scoring a goal.

The time for laughing and joking needed to end once the game started, Vitulli told his team.

The Bonackers got the message, erupting for three goals in the first 14 1/2 minutes of the game en route to a 5-1 victory under the lights to keep the Monarchs (0-5) still searching for that elusive first victory.

Monday’s loss was a lesson in how lack of communication or a simple miscue in the defensive end can quickly lead to a breakdown.

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Mercy senior Shannon Willmott tries to control the ball in the defensive end.

“The five mistakes that we had on defense, they capitalized and scored on,” said Mercy coach Meaghan Macarthur. “Those five plays we fell asleep on they took advantage of it and scored.”

The Bonackers struck first on a goal by Amanda Seekamp, who finished with two. A pass from the right corner into the box was misplayed between Mercy goalkeeper Juliana Cintron-Leonardo and a defender in front of her. Some confusion as to who would play the ball allowed it to slip through to Seekamp, who tapped it in for an easy goal.

Seekamp added another goal when a ball was accidentally headed right to her in the box and she drilled the ball inside the left post.

Macarthur said some injuries on defense has forced players into different roles, which contributed to some of the communication problems.

“There’s two parts to communication — the actual talking and then the listening,” she said. “Getting that second part of listening isn’t the easiest. I can’t hear out there what they’re saying, but you can tell when they’re not communicating or listening.”

The Monarchs have a young goalkeeper in Cintron-Leonardo, who is still just a freshman. While she’s shown off plenty of athleticism in making great saves, she also needs to be more assertive on the field.

“A lot of times she’s getting screened and she can’t see the ball,” Macarthur said. “And that’s when the goals happen.”

The lone goal for Mercy came off the foot of sophomore Claire Sullivan, who has provided most of the offense in the early part of the season. She delivered a booming free kick from the left side about 30 yards out that sailed into the far post just less than three minutes after East Hampton scored the game’s first goal.

The free kick was awarded after an East Hampton handball.

Macarthur said when Sullivan gets those opportunities, she has an open door to let the ball fly on net.

“She has the ability to shoot from 40 yards out,” Macarthur said. “It’s crazy. She’s powerful and she knows how to place the ball.”

It was Sullivan’s third goal of the season, which is half of Mercy’s season total.

“She’s getting to be a really smart player and once she learns to control the ball and keep her head up more than she already does, she’s going to be dangerous,” Macarthur said.

The game remained tied at 1 for only 43 seconds after Sullivan scored. Seekamp scored her second to make it 2-1 and then 2 1/2 minutes later Karen Vega scored to make it 3-1.

East Hampton added two more goals in the second half for the final score.

Macarthur said the Monarchs need to continue putting all the little things they’ve worked on together to get that first victory.

“We can’t have any lapses in judgement and need to be more confident in ourselves as a whole unit,” she said.

The Monarchs get their next chance Friday afternoon when they host The Ross School as part of a boys/girls doubleheader on homecoming weekend.


09/12/12 7:00pm
09/12/2012 7:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Megan Kelly will be a key player offensively for the Wildcats this season.

For the past five seasons, the Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team had the luxury of starting each game with one of the top players on Long Island in Kari Quinn. Since a 16-goal season as an eighth-grader, Quinn’s dynamic play helped lead the Wildcats into the playoffs every season.

Now with Quinn playing for Syracuse University, and fellow all-state midfielder Shannon McDonnell at Yale, the Wildcats will turn to a new core to keep their playoff streak alive.

While the Wildcats lost their top two offensive threats from last season, they return a solid group of returning players in addition to a few newcomers who are primed for breakout seasons.

The biggest addition among the newcomers could be freshman Megan Kelly, who led the team in goals during the summer league. In the team’s scrimmage against William Floyd Friday, she scored a pair of goals.

“She just has that die-hard instinct, she knows where to be and has the muscle to just run through people,” said Shoreham’s second-year coach Adrian Gilmore, who’s brought stability back to the program after becoming the fourth coach in four years last season. “I’m really excited to see her play.”

Kelly could be a huge boost offensively for a team that will need to find new scorers this season. Kelly’s making the jump to varsity right from the junior high team last year.

Junior Shannon Rosati gives the Wildcats another offensive threat. Always one of the fastest players on the field, Rosati scored one of Shoreham’s goals against Floyd.

Gilmore said Rosati has quickly developed into one of the leaders on the team.

“She’s really helped Megan and some of the younger girls,” she said. “It can be hard as a ninth-grader coming up to the team and not knowing anyone. She really took them under her wing and made sure they felt comfortable.”

The Wildcats will look for their defense to be a strong point. Junior goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop returns for her third season as the starter. She posted nine shutouts last season.

Gilmore said Wynkoop has become more of a vocal leader of the defense.

“Being a goalie who doesn’t play on a club team and being so young on varsity, it’s something that you kind of develop over the years,” she said.

Senior captain Jessica Angerman is another leader on the team, Gilmore said, who will play on defense. She’ll start at stopper.

“She just has a presence about her the other girls are drawn to,” Gilmore said.

Kate Birkmire slides over from stopper to sweeper this season and will be a leader of the defense as well.

In the midfield sophomore Courtney Clasen will play a much larger role this season as the center mid.

“She’s more confident,” Gilmore said. “I noticed she’s been shooting the ball a lot more, so I’m happy about that.”

Sophomore Mackenzie Roberts will play a key role in the midfield along with junior Logan Hoffmann.

The Wildcats will face a challenging schedule this season in League VI. With the addition of the developmental league, John Glenn bumped up to the same league as Shoreham.

“From the coaching standpoint, you want to play competitive soccer,” Gilmore said.

Shoreham opens league play Friday at Center Moriches.

When the opportunity came up for the Riverhead girls soccer team to join the newly formed developmental league this season, it was something second-year coach Hassan Olowu and the athletic department embraced.

Last season in League IV was a difficult journey for the Blue Waves. Riverhead lost eight games by five or more goals and the Blue Waves scored four goals over the entire season.

This season the Blue Waves will compete in League VIII along with Southampton, Newfield, Hampton Bays, Copiague, Central Islip and Amityville. It’ll give the team an opportunity to compete against other rebuilding teams and give them a more competitive playing field as they try to build the program.

“We want to improve on areas of our game that perhaps lack of experience has provided us,” Olowu said. “We think it’s a good thing for us. It’s the right time for us to go into it. By the time we actually come out of it we’ll definitely be ready to compete at a level we all know Riverhead can compete at.”

It’s a two-year commitment to the developmental league, which will not send any teams into the Section XI playoffs.

It was the school’s choice to join the league, Olowu said.

“I have a great athletic department and they fully support the decisions we try to make in the interest of the program, he said. “They voted on it and they agreed.”

The Blue Waves return some experienced players in senior midfielder/forward Ashley Drozd and junior goalkeeper Carolyn Carrera.

Olowu said Drozd is a strong offensive player who can score from “practically anywhere in the offensive third.”

“Another thing I’m really lucky to have is a leader who very much brings everybody together off the field,” Olowu added.

Carrera, meanwhile, is like another coach on the field, Olowu said.

“If for some reason I forget something, I’m not even worried because I know Carolyn will remember,” he said.

The Blue Waves also return senior Megan Weiss and junior Emily Jehle in addition to some newcomers.

“We’re very encouraged by what we see right now,” Olowu said.

Riverhead opens the league season Sept. 20 at home against Newfield.

They’ll be a familiar face on the sidelines for McGann-Mercy this season. Meaghan Macarthur, a 2007 Mercy graduate who played college basketball at Springfield, has taken over the varsity program as former coach Jacki Paton switches to the junior high.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | McGann-Mercy junior Kayla Schroeher returns for the Monarchs this season.

“A lot of my styles and techniques I learned from her,” Macarthur said. “Most of it is very similar to her, but I’m trying a couple new things and it’s just a little different perspective.”

The Monarchs return a young team after losing several of their top players to graduation. They enter the season with five freshmen and five sophomores.

For freshman Juliana Cintron-Leonardo, this is already her second season on varsity. She started in goal for the Monarchs last season and showed off her ability that has the Mercy players thankful she’s on their team.

“She’s an animal,” Macarthur said. “She just attacks the ball.”

In practice, it only helps the Mercy shooters having to go up against a strong goalie.

“You really have to work on placing the ball to the sides and tops of the net instead of shooting and hoping the goalie is going to miss it,” Macarthur said.

In front of Cintron-Leonardo, the Monarchs will rely on senior Shannon Willmott to direct the defense as sweeper. Macarthur said Willmott is a good communicator and leader.

Sophomore Meghan Bassone will play forward and try to fill some of the scoring void left behind after Karlin McIntyre graduated.

In the midfield the Monarchs feature sophomore Claire Sullivan and freshman Dana Young.

The Monarchs hope to get senior Pip Ross back soon from an injury. A back injury limited her last season and now she’s dealing with an ankle injury to start this season.

Macarthur said in their first scrimmage and non-league game, the players looked like they had already been playing together in games.

“They communicate with each other without actually saying things,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. The passes they make. They know where each other is going to be.”

Mercy begins its league season Friday at home against Smithtown Christian.