Field Hockey Preview: Seniors to be backbone for Riverhead

BARBARALLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Amanda Graziano returns as part of the core four for the Blue Waves.

The core four of the Riverhead field hockey team has played together on varsity since their freshman year. As they begin their senior year on a team that lost a big chunk of last year’s lineup, they’ll be asked to shoulder a heavy load in their final year.

“They have been pretty dedicated to the program and worked very hard since they were in seventh grade,” said Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards. “They’re going to be the backbone of the team.”

Leading that core is center midfielder Christy Brewer, a year-round field hockey player who the Blue Waves will look to gel around. Amanda Graziano, who played in the midfield last year, returns and will start off the season playing more defense. She’ll likely play both positions throughout the season.

Christina Sacchitello returns to help anchor the defense as well. Rounding out the core four is Corinne Kimmelman, who will find herself in an entirely new role this season.

Kimmelman played as a defender and forward last season as a junior. But with the Blue Waves in need of a goalkeeper, she volunteered to step up and try to fill the void.

“She’s doing very well,” Walsh-Edwards said. “She’s a great athlete, very agile and very quick.”

Knowing that there was going to be a goalie spot opening up this year and no one in line to take over, the Blue Waves tried out Kimmelman at times last year in goal during practice.

“She stepped up to the plate,” Walsh-Edwards said.

The Blue Waves have two more seniors in Rebecca Reilly (forward) and Alex McKillop (defense). McKillop is in her first year playing field hockey after switching from soccer.

“She’s doing a really nice job,” Walsh-Edwards said.

The Blue Waves will have some speed on the field with sophomore Maria Dillingham on the forward line. Dillingham was a strong distance runner in track and field during the winter and spring last year. Junior Kyra Braunskill-Miller, another track star who was one of the top triple jumpers in the state, will be playing her first year on varsity. She just started playing field hockey last year.

Other returnees include junior Sydney Kito on defense, sophomore Danielle Napoli in the midfield and sophomore Amanda Baron on the forward line.

Freshman Emily Masse will start in the midfield and defenders Shannon Harden and Rashae Smith are both in their first year on varsity.

“There’s a lot of youth, a lot of kids that might be a little older but don’t have those years of field hockey behind them so it’s just kind of getting them all to mesh together,” Walsh-Edwards said. “But I’ve been happy so far.”

The Blue Waves were seeded ninth in Division III. They open the season Friday with a non-league game against Pierson/Bridgehampton. The league schedule opens up Sept. 11 at Southampton.

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