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.”

[email protected]

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.”

[email protected]

09/14/11 11:02am
09/14/2011 11:02 AM

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Ashley Drozd, one of Riverhead's two all-county players, gives maximum effort, said the team's new coach, Hassan Olowu.

This is Hassan Olowu’s first head coaching job beyond middle school, and he’s excited about being the new coach of the Riverhead High School girls soccer team.

“I’m buzzing,” Olowu, a 34-year-old English citizen, said after a recent practice. “I’m excited. I don’t know if it ever comes out during practice, but I’m always trying to figure out ways to make the team better, give them confidence.”

Although the Blue Waves might have had their best collection of players ever last year, they also played a difficult schedule and finished with a losing season. Olowu and his players have their work cut out for them once again, but it looks as if the Blue Waves are not shortchanging themselves on effort.

“I don’t ever have to question their effort,” Olowu said. “They give a hundred percent on the field. … I’m challenging them in practice. I told them, the harder the practices are, the easier the games are going to be, and vice-versa.”

Two all-county players, junior forward/midfielder Ashley Drozd and senior defender Tanya Rast, are undisputed talents on opposite ends of the field.

“These are players that in many ways just let their soccer do the talking,” Olowu said. “They give maximum effort in practice and they assert themselves through their play in the field. Nothing short of admirable.”

Savannah Smith, a senior defender, was the team’s most valuable player last year. Emily Oruc, a senior defender, is one of the team leaders. Alex McKillop, a junior forward, has made strides. Rachel Conti, a sophomore midfielder, was brought onto the varsity team late last season and performed wonderfully, said Olowu.

The goalkeeping situation isn’t settled, but to hear Olowu talk about it, that may not be a problem so much as a blessing. He has Carolyn Carrera, a sophomore, and Amanda Gallo, a senior, to choose from. They both can play in the field, too.

“I have two quality goalies, so it’s a great situation for any coach to have,” Olowu said. He added: “One of the things I like about them both is their mental toughness. They have different qualities, unquestionably, but I’m comfortable starting either one. It’s the kind of headache that any coach wants.”

Among the team’s 11 seniors are: Tyesha Harrell, Christina Stapon, Catherine Romero, Corrine Moore, Joanna Kurzyna, Alicia Kratoville and Amber Dillon.

The roster also includes Megan Weiss, Shelby Britt, Rachel Blank, Emily Jehle, Katie McKillop, Sierra Roces and Megan Brunner.

“I have a lot of players who have shown a lot of grit and a lot of ability,” Olowu said. “As long as they have a jersey, they have a role to play. No one’s here to make up numbers. So, the truth is, anybody here can make an impact.”

From one coach to the next, one thing has always remained constant at Shoreham-Wading River over the past six years: winning.

Stability at head coach for the varsity team, as well as with the coaches on the lower levels, has been hard to come by for Shoreham.

Now with Adrian Gilmore taking over the program, the Wildcats hope they have the right person in place who will look to lead the team for years to come.

“I definitely want to stay,” Gilmore said before the Wildcats’ scrimmage against William Floyd on Monday. “I plan on coaching as long as I’m teaching, if they’ll let me.”

Gilmore, a fifth-grade teacher for six years at the Miller Avenue School and a former soccer player at William Floyd High School, became the fourth head coach in as many years when she was formally hired at the end of August. She is the fifth coach the team has had since 2005. In each season since that point the team has made it to the playoffs, a destination they will be in good position to reach again with a talented core of returning players.

“So far the girls are really great,” Gilmore said. “A really nice group of kids that just want to do well.”

Gilmore played soccer at Concordia College in Westchester and later coached at Bronxville and Edgemont. She was waiting for a coaching opportunity at Shoreham and happened to call one day to throw her name in the mix for any positions that might have been available. She heard back about the varsity position and soon after had the job.

While she wasn’t formally approved until the end of August, she knew she was in line for the job. So she got the chance to see about nine or 10 of the girls play in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League.

“I went to a lot of the summer games,” she said. “They didn’t know who I was. A couple parents thought I was from the newspaper because I was taking notes.”

The Wildcats advanced to the Suffolk County Class A semifinals last year, falling by 3-0 to Islip after beating Elwood/John Glenn in the opening round.

They return an impressive core, led by Syracuse-bound Kari Quinn. Since erupting for 16 goals as an eighth-grader, Quinn has been a dominant force for the Wildcats at whatever end of the field she plays. Last year in an all-state season, Quinn tallied 10 goals and 10 assists.

“It’s really nice to see someone who can control the field in such a positive way,” Gilmore said. “She’s a team player.”

Another key midfielder returning is senior Shannon McDonnell, who scored eight goals with seven assists last year in an all-county season. Quinn and McDonnell are the captains along with senior Victoria Creta, who was all-league last season.

Meghan Seabrook, who missed some time last year because of injury, gives the Wildcats another scoring threat.

In goal, the Wildcats return sophomore Kelly Wynkoop, who started last year. “She looked awesome over the summer,” Gilmore said.

Alex Amato will anchor the defense at sweeper. She is currently out with an injury and should return in the next few weeks, Gilmore said. With Amato out, the Wildcats will use Kate Birkmire and Meghan Serdock at sweeper.

Gilmore said they have some youth on the team as well with several freshmen.

BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO | Karlin McIntyre, a senior forward, is one of Bishop McGann-Mercy's five returning starters.

Jacki Paton sounds excited when she talks about her Bishop McGann-Mercy team, and for good reason. The Monarchs may do some exciting things this season. Over the course of several days, Paton said, the Monarchs made about two weeks worth of progress.

“We’re young, inexperienced, but overall, the young kids coming in have some more soccer background, so we’re going to go through our ups and downs, but when we’re in those ups, it’s going to be exciting soccer,” the coach said. “We’re going to create more on the offensive end.”

The team is built around five returning starters in senior midfielder Brieanne Bieber, senior forward Karlin McIntyre, senior midfielder Victoria Tremble, senior sweeper Amanda Burriesci and junior defender Shannon Willmott. Two other players are back, sophomore defender Nicole Spezzacatena and junior midfielder Phillipa Ross.

The team’s starting lineup includes three freshmen and an eighth-grader. The eighth-grader, goalkeeper Juliana Cintron-Leonardo, is one of those exciting players.

“She’s all athleticism, and she makes some one-handed saves,” Paton said. “She is fun to watch.”

Meghan Bossone, a freshman midfielder, has earned a place in the starting 11 along with freshman midfielder Hannah Steinhauer, freshman defender Claire Sullivan and sophomore forward Kayla Schroeher.

Also new to the team are junior defender Courtney Walsh, sophomore midfielder Ashley Busuttil, freshman defender Marta Wyszynski, sophomore defender Selena Garcia and junior midfielder Carol Pollock.

Paton sees plenty of potential in the new players. On top of that, she has a steady player in Bieber controlling midfield, a scoring threat in McIntyre, a wall on defense in Burriesci, and Tremble running the wing.

Joe Werkmeister contributed to this article.

[email protected]