04/15/14 11:12am
04/15/2014 11:12 AM
Youth lacrosse players scramble for a ground ball in Riverhead. Parents are proposing an artificial turf field be built at EPCAL. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Youth lacrosse players scramble for a ground ball in Riverhead. Parents are proposing an artificial turf field be built at EPCAL. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

A group of about 15 parents asked Riverhead Town’s recreation advisory committee to build a multi-purpose artificial turf field for lacrosse, soccer and football at the EPCAL site in Calverton.  (more…)

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.

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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.