Field Hockey: Goals hard to come by for Riverhead

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead sophomore Danielle Napoli works the ball up field against Sachem North.


The predicament surrounding the Riverhead field hockey team through the first seven games of the season has little to do with effort or opportunities.

The Blue Waves play hard, can control the ball, keep it deep in the defensive zone at times, and generate scoring chances.

Converting on those has been another story.

Such was the case Tuesday afternoon in a 1-0 non-league loss at Sachem North, a game the Blue Waves controlled for much of the action without ever putting the ball into the cage.

It was the third time this season the Blue Waves were blanked. For the season the Blue Waves have just five goals (.71 per game).

Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh said sometimes the players are taking lower percentage shots and fail to pounce on rebounds, which are often a great source of goals.

“We’ll get a first shot and then we’re not ready to get that rebound off the goalie where other teams are right in there,” she said. “We need to learn to play that rebound a little more and get that second and third shot.”

The Blue Waves had five penalty corners against Sachem North (1-6) and couldn’t generate any good scoring chances from them.

Riverhead (3-2 Division III, 3-4 overall) opened the game strong before hitting a bit of a lull with about 10 minutes left in the first half. The Flaming Arrows started working the ball deep into Riverhead’s end and putting the Blue Waves on their heels.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead sophomore Maria Dillingham has four goals so far this season, including the game-winner from Monday against Greenport.

Sachem finally converted with 3:19 left in the half when Arianna Franz scored on a shot from the left side about five yards out off a pass from Paige Thorsen.

Walsh said it’s frustrating when the team dominates at the beginning of the game, only to end up playing from behind when the opponent capitalizes on a scoring chance.

“They get down on our end that one time and they score,” she said. “We say that to our kids all the time, we can’t dominate, dominate, dominate and then they get one breakaway down and they score on us.”

Riverhead senior Corinne Kimmelman stopped five shots in cage for the Blue Waves. Sachem North goalkeeper Chelsea Palma made 10 saves.

Most of the scoring for Riverhead this season has come from sophomore Maria Dillingham, a speedy forward. She scored the winning goal a day earlier when the Blue Waves defeated Greenport 1-0 on the road for a pivotal Division III victory.

Dillingham has scored four of Riverhead’s five goals.

“She’s doing very well as a sophomore,” Walsh said. “I’m still experimenting a little bit with the forward line.”

Walsh said senior Rebecca Reilly, who has one goal on the season, has done a nice job on the right side. In each game Walsh said she tries to determine what the best spot on the field is for Dillingham, whether to have her play in the middle or work from the outside opposite Reilly.

The Blue Waves had a flurry of chances in the final 11 minutes to try and knock in an equalizer against the Flaming Arrows. Sophomore Amanda Baron had a shot saved with about 6:20 left.

Earlier in the half she another shot saved after Dillingham charged up the right sideline and delivered a strong pass into the circle. Baron got a stick on it for a shot, which deflected back out, but the Blue Waves weren’t in position to capitalize on the rebound.

“It’s not the first game,” Walsh said. “It happens over and over again that we’re down there. Against some teams we’re even dominating and we can’t put the ball in.”

After playing back-to-back games, the Blue Waves will have a full week off before returning to action against Shoreham-Wading River Oct. 2. They’ll play Port Jefferson Oct. 4 to conclude the first half of the league season.

To have a chance at making the playoffs, Walsh said she knows the Blue Waves will need to find a way to knock off one of the top teams on their schedule.

They’ll get their first chance against the Wildcats, whose two losses this season have come against the top two teams in the division by one goal each (2-1 against Miller Place and 3-2 against Rocky Point).

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