11/07/13 1:30pm
11/07/2013 1:30 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera will anchor the Blue Waves' defense this season as goalkeeper.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera was honored with a prestigious award for her excellence in athletics, academics and community leadership.

Riverhead senior Carolyn Carrera — a three-sport athlete who plans to play lacrosse and soccer at Hofstra University — was honored this week as the winner of New York’s female Wendy’s High School Heisman Award.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Carrera was a co-winner of the News-Review’s Athlete of the Year Award last June.

The award is given each year to one male and female student in each state who demonstrates excellence in athletics, academics and community leadership. The 102 state winners are each entered into the national competition, where 12 students will be chosen as finalists and compete for a title on Dec. 13. The 12 finalists will be featured on ESPN and receive gold medals and $2,000 for their high school. The high school of each national winner receives a donation of $10,000.

Last month, Carrera was named one of 10 finalists for New York from a pool of 48,000 applicants. She was chosen along with John McCarthy of Corning-Painted Post West High School.

Carrera plays goalkeeper on the Riverhead soccer team in the fall. She also plays basketball in the winter and is a midfielder on the lacrosse team in the spring. She was an All-American in lacrosse last year.

Carrera has been equally successful in the classroom with a 98.75 unweighted average. She scored a 2040 on the SATs and is ranked third in her class out of 362 students. She is an honor roll student, member of the National Honor Society, the Latin Honor Society, Mentathletes and the Math Club.

She’s also president of her class and has been active working with student government to raise funds to help former classmate Michael Hubbard. At Hofstra, Carrera plans to major in engineering or pre-med.

In June, Carrera was named a co-winner of the News Review’s Athlete of the Year of the award for Riverhead.

08/22/13 5:00pm
08/22/2013 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead girls lacrosse player Alley Romer (right) fights for a ground ball during a game against Huntington. The girls team features girls from seventh to ninth grade and is one of the newest teams added to Riverhead’s budding travel program.

When the Riverhead boys lacrosse team clinched a spot in the playoffs last year as the No. 13 seed, the accomplishment was met with the kind of fanfare expected of a program reaching a new height. The Blue Waves may not have advanced beyond round one, but it was a stepping stone.

To take that next step — from becoming a fringe playoff team to a program that succeeds at a high level year after year — the lacrosse community in Riverhead looked to the best models available: Shoreham-Wading River, Three Village, West Islip and Smithtown. All of the top lacrosse communities around Suffolk County feature a bevy of travel teams beginning at a young age, for which kids have the opportunity to play lacrosse year round.

Now, thanks to the dedication of three parents, those opportunities continue to grow for Riverhead students.

When Steve Weir and John Roca were coaching a PAL lacrosse team a few years ago, they realized how few opportunities existed for kids. The PAL season ended in mid-spring. And that was it.

“We had some success at PAL,” said Weir, who has a son and daughter who play lacrosse. “We were beating teams and the kids were doing good and we wanted to continue it. And we had parents asking us, ‘What’s next?’ ”

Three years ago, Weir, Roca and Andrew Fitzpatrick — all of whom have children in the district — formed Riverhead Athletics, Inc., an organization dedicated to forming and funding travel lacrosse teams specifically for Riverhead students. It started with just one team.

Now the organization features a varsity boys team, a JV boys team, a rising 7th-grade boys team and a girls team for seventh- to ninth-graders. Plans are in place for a varsity girls team and an additional boys team for next year.

“As we’ve been expanding this each year, it’s just gotten better and better,” said Riverhead boys varsity coach Vic Guadagnino. “Now the kids are looking forward to it. It’s not work anymore.”

Guadagnino coaches the boys varsity team, giving him valuable time to work with the athletes during the offseason. Other coaches in the Riverhead program volunteer to coach some of the teams as well.

The travel teams can play year round, from fall tournaments to winter leagues to summer tournaments. In the fall, Riverhead will play in Shoreham-Wading River’s Fall Classic, a tournament that attracts teams from across the Northeast and hundreds of college coaches. This past summer the varsity team of 24 boys competed in tournaments at Stony Brook, Hofstra, Maryland and Syracuse.

“It went well,” Guadagnino said. “We went 10-5-1 this summer so it was pretty successful for us with everybody playing. All the guys did well and new guys adapted to the system.”

The tournaments are prime opportunities for college coaches to notice players. That already happened for Riverhead’s Blake Carrara. While only heading into his sophomore year, Carrara verbally committed to attend powerhouse University of Maryland.

A defenseman, Carrara had the job of covering an opposing team’s top midfielder last spring as a freshman on varsity.

Guadagnino said Carrara’s performance during the Long Island Lacrosse Showcase, when he played on a rising sophomore team, jumped out at college coaches.

“The tryout and the game he was unbelievable,” Guadagnino said. “From that he went to the Maverick Showcase Tournament and dominated at that. It went from some [college] attention, to wow, this kid can play.”

It quickly evolved into a whirlwind recruiting tour. In one 19-hour day, Carrara visited Virginia, Maryland and Loyola.

“I became almost like his secretary,” Guadagnino said.

Carrara chose to commit to Maryland, although it’s a non-binding agreement and he can’t officially sign a National Letter of Intent until November 2015.

Weir’s son Ben played on the varsity as a freshman last year, as did Fitzpatrick’s son, Austin.

“Blake is one of those kids who hits the field and he just gets it done,” Weir said.

One of the biggest advantages of Riverhead’s travel program, Weir said, is the mitigated cost. Through fundraising, and generous donations from a few big sponsors, the cost of playing on the teams is less than most travel teams.

“It can be a burden for parents,” Weir said. “But we’ve been able to keep the prices way less than these parents would have to pay for a travel team.”

Weir said Farm Credit East donated money for the development of a girls team. Last Friday at Stonewalls Restaurant at Cherry Creek Golf Course, the organization held its second golf outing. More than 160 people attended, Weir said, to help raise funds to support the lacrosse teams.

“All the other fundraising we do is just knocking on doors,” Weir said.

The Blue Waves will soon be knocking on doors on the field now, too.


05/04/13 2:58pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead PAL coach Chris Kielbasa with the fifth/six grade lacrosse team who played Middle Country Saturday morning.

Nearly 700 lacrosse players, from kindergarten to eighth graders, coaches and spectators were spread over the Riverhead School District athletic fields stretching rom Pulaski Street Elementary School to Riverhead High School for the first-time fundraiser ‘Lax for a Smile’ Saturday morning. The all-day event featured girls and boys teams playing 22 games to raise money for gel-candle burn victim Michael Hubbard and his mother Nancy Reyer. One-hundred percent of the money raised goes to them.

Michael Hubbard in April. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Reyer)

Michael Hubbard in April. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Reyer)

Leading up the effort was long-time Riverhead PAL coach Ed Lucas.”It is great to teach the kids about giving back to the community. If next year there is another worthy candidate we have the entity in place. If not we will do it for Michael again.” He went on the say that the name came from the fact that since Michael is disabled from his injuries he continues to flash his beautiful smile every time his mother asks for it.

Nick Bartolomeo, president of East End Marketing, which operates a dozen Valero gas stations within 10 miles of Riverhead, donated the ‘Lax for a Smile’ t-shirts that were given to all the players who participated. All proceeds from the concession stands, Chinese auction and Mother’s Day flower sales amounted to almost $10,000 by the end of the day Saturday.

04/24/13 8:00pm
04/24/2013 8:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Ryan Bitzer fires a shot in a game last season. The varsity team’s Senior Day will cap off the May 4 fundraiser ‘Lax for a Smile.’

LACROSSE: ‘Lax for a Smile’ Boys and girls PAL teams and Riverhead’s varsity teams will be involved in a lacrosse fund-raiser, “Lax for a Smile,” on May 4 at the Pulaski Street School fields. The event will raise funds for Michael Hubbard, a boy who was critically burned about one and a half years ago. It will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will finish with Riverhead’s boys varsity lacrosse team playing its Senior Day game against North Babylon.

PAL FOOTBALL: Registration info The Riverhead Police Athletic League is accepting registrations for football players ages 7 through 12 and cheerleaders who are grades 2 through 6 for the 2013 season. To register by mail, go to www.townofriverheadny.gov, Local Links, Hot Links, go to Juvenile Aid Bureau, drag the side bar down to Registrations, print the necessary forms and mail to the PAL office. Forms are also located at the PAL office at 210 Howell Avenue in Riverhead. The registration deadline is tomorrow.

FISHING: Flounder season opens May 1 The recreational fishing season for summer flounder will open May 1 and remain open through Sept. 29, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced Monday. The flounder size limit is 19 inches and there is a four-fish bag limit. Anglers are reminded to register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry, which is required for fishing in the Marine and Coastal District. No fee is required.

New York was faced with a shorter season or increased size limits for 2013 due to federal landings data for 2012. The DEC said it worked with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in January to avoid restrictions that would have reduced the length of the season and increased the size limit which the DEC determined was unnecessary given the healthy condition of the stock. Several of the east coast states underharvested their quotas in 2012, which allowed them to catch more fish in 2013.

Through a change spearheaded by the DEC to the ASMFC Fisheries Management Plan, these states agreed to share some of their unharvested fish with New York and New Jersey in 2013. This change was approved by the ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Board recently.

“The improvements to fluke fishing is good news for New York anglers and the saltwater fishing industry who have been shortchanged for many years by an inadequate quota relative to the size of the fishery in New York,” the DEC commissioner, Joe Martens, said in a press release. “These are the same anglers who are struggling to get back on their feet after the impacts of Hurricane Sandy. DEC will work with a subcommittee of key states and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to find a long-term solution to the inequity New York fishermen have faced for over a decade with fluke management.”

The black sea bass fishing season will run from July 10 to Dec. 31, with a 13-inch minimum size and an eight-fish bag limit. These limits are better than previously thought since all states were originally required to take a 32-percent reduction in 2013 harvest, but an analysis of new data shows that only a 24-percent reduction is needed.

The scup (porgy) fishing season will also see an improvement for 2013 with a 10-inch minimum size, 30-fish bag limit and a season from May 1 to Dec. 31 for all anglers. Party and charter boats will have a bonus of a 45-fish bag limit from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31.

03/07/13 8:00pm
03/07/2013 8:00 PM

WESTERN CONNECTICUT ATHLETICS PHOTO | Jackie Zilnicki of Riverhead was named to the 2013 Little East All-Conference Team.

COLLEGE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Zilnicki on defensive team Jackie Zilnicki of Riverhead is one of four Western Connecticut State University players who have been named to the 2013 Little East All-Conference Team. Zilnicki joined teammate Sha’Quira Palmer on the All-Defensive Team. Zilnicki, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, averaged 11.3 points and a team-high (along with Carly Murphy) 5.6 rebounds while leading the team with 41 steals.

Western Connecticut finished with an overall record of 19-8, one victory shy of the program’s fifth 20-win season in the past six years.

SUNY ONEONTA ATHLETICS PHOTO | Daniel Stern tallied eight points in a win over Southwestern University.

COLLEGE MEN’S LACROSSE: Stern gets 4 goals, 4 assists Daniel Stern, a junior from Shoreham, led the charge and finished the day with four goals and four assists for SUNY/Oneonta (1-1) in a 12-3 defeat of Southwestern University on Feb. 23. Oneonta outshot Southwestern, 42-26, and picked up 32 more ground balls (56-24). In Oneonta’s opening game of the season, a 17-6 loss to Whittier College, Oneonta started out strong, going up 2-0 on goals by James Reiser and Anthony Laureano, both off Stern assists, before Whittier tied it up by the end of the first period. The second period started much like the first as Stern put the Red Dragons on the board again. Whittier then went on an 8-0 burst to take the lead and never looked back.

12/28/12 10:00am
12/28/2012 10:00 AM

JOHN ZACHARY FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River girls lacrosse team celebrates its 2012 state championship.

One day. Two state championship games.

That was the scenario for the Shoreham-Wading River boys and girls lacrosse teams in early June. Following the same script the teams used in 2007 to become the first Suffolk County school with two lacrosse state champions in the same year, the Wildcats ruled New York once again.

In Cortland, the girls faced off against Honeoye Falls-Lima in the Class C finals. A few hours later in Middletown, the boys began their championship game against Penn Yan.

For the girls, the game was an opportunity to reclaim their spot atop the podium. After winning four straight state titles, the Wildcats fell short in 2011 when they briefly bumped up a classification. With their return to Class C, the Wildcats once again proved their supremacy.

The Wildcats faced their share of adversity in the playoffs. In their state semifinal win, a seven-goal lead in the second half got sliced down to one in the final minutes by Christian Brothers Academy. Shoreham held on to win 14-13 in a thriller.

In the championship game the Wildcats fell behind by four before unleashing a 7-0 run in the second half to seize control. The Wildcats went on to win 11-9 to clinch the program’s fifth state title.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats celebrate their county championship victory over Bayport-Blue Point Wednesday.

The boys faced some early adversity of their own early in the finals. Trevor Brosco, a senior captain in the midfield, suffered a concussion just moments into the game and couldn’t return. In his absence, the rest of the team, led by Tim Rotanz, stepped up to carry the load. Rotanz torched the Mustangs for five goals and two assists as Shoreham won 10-6.

As the teams arrived back in Shoreham, a police escort guided them back to the high school, where a crowd gathered to celebrate.

Two teams, two state champions.

11/23/12 5:00pm
11/23/2012 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead baseball player Matt Crohan, joined by his parents Stephanie and Ed, signed a Letter of Intent to join Winthrop University.

When the Riverhead baseball team took the field for Senior Day in the spring of 2011, all but one player in the starting lineup was a senior. On the mound, the Blue Waves handed the ball to Matt Crohan, who happened to be the only sophomore on the varsity team that year.

Crohan, a left-hander with a versatile array of pitches, struck out six that day to earn his first varsity win. It was evident back then that Crohan had the potential to be a dominant pitcher for the Blue Waves and a player who could be throwing meaningful pitches beyond high school.

That dream became a reality when Crohan signed a National Letter of Intent this week to play baseball at Winthrop University, a Division I school in South Carolina.

Crohan was one of five Riverhead students to officially sign letters of intent during the early signing period, which ran Nov. 14-21.

Two students signed for lacrosse: Ryan Bitzer with Stony Brook and Sabina Dorr with St. Francis. Bree Ristau signed with the University of Massachusetts for rowing. And Shanice Allen signed with Pace University for basketball.

The students celebrated with brief ceremonies at the high school, where parents and coaches joined them as they signed on the dotted line.

Crohan, who also plays the outfield for Riverhead, can hit 92 mph on his fastball, coach Rob Maccone said.

“Over and above all his athletic abilities, Matt is a great kid and deserves all the recognition he has gotten and will get in the future,” Maccone said. “I’m really going to miss him.”

Crohan was an all-league player as a sophomore and junior. Last season he led the team in strikeouts and batted a team-high .500. He’s also played for a club team based in Dallas, Texas, and was selected to play on a Yankees and Phillies scout tryout team.

“I’m very excited about playing for Winthrop,” Crohan said. “I really like the coaching staff, the team, which is in a building state, and the college itself. And, the weather in South Carolina is awesome.”

Crohan plans to study business management or marketing.

RIVERHEAD SCHOOLS COURTESY PHOTO | Ryan Bitzer signed to play lacrosse at Stony Brook.

Bitzer may better be known as a quarterback at this time of year, as he leads the Blue Waves into the Division II county championship this weekend. But his college sport is lacrosse and he’ll stick close to home to play for one of the rising programs in Division I.

“I really enjoy lacrosse,” said Bitzer, who’s also a standout basketball player. “It’s very physical and uses a combination of skills. I like that.”

An all-county midfielder last spring, Bitzer was the team MVP while leading the Blue Waves to one of their best seasons in years.

“Ryan is a very talented athlete,” said Riverhead coach Vic Guadagnino. “He does the job in the classroom, on the court and out on the field in multiple sports. Not only is he a great athlete, but he is a very special person who is a pleasure to coach.”

Bitzer plans to major in business.

Dorr has been a standout in the Riverhead lacrosse program since its inception when she was a seventh-grader. A midfielder/attack, Dorr was an all-division player last year and Brine National High School all-America selection.

She scored 30 goals with eight assists last year.

RIVERHEAD SCHOOLS COURTESY PHOTO | Sabina Dorr signed to play lacrosse at St. Francis.

Dorr said St. Francis, while the smallest Division I school, is a perfect fit of her.

“When I visited campus, I immediately like the team, the coaches and the university,” she said.

St. Francis coach Gregg Gebhard is a Long Island native.

“Everyone at St. Francis is committed to giving athletes both a great playing experience and a great education,” Dorr said.

Dorr plans to enter the health sciences program with the hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant.

Ristau, who competes with the East End Rowing Team, is the first Riverhead student to sign with a Division I team for rowing.

Last year at the Scholastic Nationals Ristau placed fourth in singles. She was second at the New York Championships. At UMass, Ristau will compete on a nationally ranked team.

RIVERHEAD SCHOOLS COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead senior Bree Ristau will continue her rowing career next year at UMass after signing a letter of intent last week. Her father, Gary, joined her for the signing ceremony along with (standing, from left) rowing coach Michelle Zaloom with her daughter Anna, guidance counselor Chris Martin, assistant principal Charles Regan and superintendent Nancy Carney.

“I feel like I’ll fit in there perfectly,” she said.

Ristau’s coach, Michelle Zaloom, described her as “intense, tough and fearless.”

“She’s just got the right proportions for a good rower,” Zaloom said. “She’s got the arms, legs, shoulders, lungs and stamina she needs. I think she’s got what it takes to excel at UMass and to eventually qualify to row in the Olympics.”

Ristau plans to major in business.

As part of the Blue Waves’ “big three” last year, Shanice Allen helped lead the girls basketball team on a thrilling ride to the state semifinals. Allen was a huge reason for the Blue Waves’ success as the team won the Long Island championship.

Allen has been an all-league player since eighth grade and is a three-time all-county player. During the county championship win against Hauppauge she surpassed 1,000 career points.

She was second-team all-Long Island.

RIVERHEAD SCHOOLS COURTESY PHOTO | Shanice Allen, joined by her parents Kim and Willie, signed to play basketball at Pace.

“She is one of the top players I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” said Riverhead coach David Spinella. “She has a quiet confidence and grace, leads by example and is never a problem.”

Allen plays AAU ball throughout the year and Spinella credited coach Greg Flynn for helping Allen gain exposure.

Allen said she’s excited about playing close to home.

“I’m really happy that my mom and dad will be able to come to my games,” she said. “They’ve always been there for me and it will be nice to have them so close.”

Allen plans to major in biology with a goal of becoming an anesthesiologist.


08/01/12 9:00pm
08/01/2012 9:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz won gold with the U.S. U-19 men’s lacrosse team in Finland. Rotanz was an assistant coach on the team.

LACROSSE: U-19 World Champs Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz helped guide the U.S. U-19 men’s lacrosse team to its seventh FIL World Championship in Turku, Finland. Rotanz served as an assistant coach on the team, which defeated Canada 10-8 in the finals July 21.

A heavy favorite, the U.S. team went 2-2 in pool play before beginning the playoffs. The first outbracket game ended in a lopsided 22-2 win over Germany. The U.S. then had to beat two teams it had lost against in pool play. In the semifinals the U.S. won 12-7 against Iroquois Nation to advance to the gold medal game against Canada.

“There was a lot of pressure on the players and coaching staff to not lose and be the first USA team not to win the gold,” Rotanz said. “We made some adjustments and the players made a gut check and played well when it counted.”

Rotanz began preparations with the U.S. team almost immediately after leading the Wildcats to a state championship in early June.

FOOTBALL: Preseason honors for Maysonet Riverhead graduate Miguel Maysonet was selected as the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year at the conference’s media day last week. Maysonet rushed for a conference-record 1,633 yards last season while scoring 15 touchdowns for Stony Brook University. He’s currently the school’s all-time leader in career rushing touchdowns with 27.

Maysonet was previously named to the Walter Payton Award watch list. The award is given to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

TENNIS: Ujkic continues to roll  Chris Ujkic, the defending men’s singles champion in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament, won 6-0, 6-0, against Andrzej Kopola in the men’s singles semifinals. The finals for men’s singles are 8 a.m. Saturday at Tasker Park.

Ujkic also teamed with Kieran Corcoran in doubles to beat Richard Anderson and Jeff Waldvogel, 6-3, 6-2. In the men’s 50-plus singles, Richard Chizever was a winner 6-1, 6-3 over Tom Cahill.

In women’s singles, Liz Rossi defeated Molly Kowalski, 6-0, 6-0. And Dahila Aman beat Erica Bundrick, 6-1, 6-4. In mixed doubles Richard Chizever and Iris Battino beat Sharon McCormack and David Ferrara, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Ujkic also teamed with Denise Cardinale to beat Robert and Kate DiGregorio, 6-1, 6-1.

The men’s 50-plus singles final will be 8 a.m. Saturday. At 10 a.m. is the women’s singles and mixed doubles finals followed by the men’s doubles and men’s 50-plus doubles at noon.

SOFTBALL: End of the road After winning the District 36 Championship, the Riverhead girls 10- and 11-year-old World Series softball team dropped its next three games in sectional play to see its season come to an end. Riverhead lost its first game against Islip, 6-5, at Stotzky Park. East Meadow won the next game against Riverhead, 15-4. The girls closed out the season Saturday against Bellmore in Seaford and fell short 11-6.