SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS A QUARTERFINAL | FLAMING ARROWS 7, BLUE WAVES 0
Being a high school field hockey team that plays its home games on a grass field, Riverhead prepared for the playoffs by participating in a scrimmage at Rocky Point High School and practicing at Eastport/South Manor High School, which both have field turf. But, playing surfaces aside, there was perhaps nothing that could have prepared the Blue Waves for what they faced on Tuesday.
It wasn’t the field turf at Sachem East High School that proved troublesome for the Blue Waves so much as the Sachem East team that played on it.
“They’re amazing,” Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said. “That’s why they’re 16 and 0 and they’ve had only four goals scored on them all season.”
In this David vs. Goliath encounter, the Blue Waves were most certainly the Davids. Sachem East, a New York State runner-up last year, had won state championships the previous two years and looks like a good bet to make a strong run for another one this year.
The undefeated Flaming Arrows, loaded with stick skill and talent, lived up to their top seeding and ran through the No. 9 Blue Waves, 7-0, in a Suffolk County Class A quarterfinal. Sachem East (16-0), which has lost only once in two years, received two goals and two assists from Cara Trombetta and two goals from Taylor Giordano.
The Blue Waves, who finished the season fifth in Division II, knew what they were up against with the Division I champions.
“This is definitely by far the best team we ever played,” said Riverhead senior defender Amanda Baron. She continued: “I don’t think we played bad at all. I think we played well but they were just that much better and there was nothing we could do about it.”
Sachem East built a 3-0 lead before the Blue Waves took their first shot. Trombetta was involved in the first two goals. She set up Giordano, who pushed her shot to the far left side 8 minutes 37 seconds into the game. Trombetta maneuvered through the middle before firing a shot in at 11:16. Then, just 37 seconds later, Giordano made it 3-0 after a pass from Kaitlyn Shanahan.
Lauren Alburg tucked in a rebound after a save by Rachel Bornstein, Allie Laird blasted home another goal, and Shanahan redirected a drive by Trombetta for a 6-0 lead by halftime.
As the halftime horn sounded, the Flaming Arrows received a well-deserved round of applause from their fans.
Trombetta flipped in her second goal 2:35 into the second half.
“We did the best that we could and it’s just once you come up against a team like this, there’s not really much you can do except leave it all on the field,” Riverhead senior right midfielder Maria Dillingham said. “They move to every ball. They’re always in the right place at the right time. They connect with each other perfectly.”
Scoring has not been a problem for Sachem East this season. The Flaming Arrows have outscored their opponents, 64-4, and posted 12 shutouts. Desteny Holder needed to make only two saves for the latest shutout by the Flaming Arrows, who will play either No. 4 East Islip or No. 12 Huntington in a county semifinal on Thursday.
Sachem East coach Tina Moon likes attractive field hockey, and she liked what she saw.
“My team really rose to the occasion and came out of the gates wanting it,” she said. “To do what we’ve been able to do this year, I’m amazed. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Bornstein, a freshman brought up from the junior varsity team, made only her second career start in goal since Riverhead’s first-string goalie, Grace Dow, was out with an injury; she made seven saves.
The Blue Waves (10-8) made a breakthrough this year with their first playoff win since 1984, according to Walsh-Edwards. They had advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of a 2-1 overtime triumph over No. 8 Sachem North (14-3) on Saturday. Katie McKillop, assisted by Danni Napoli, scored the winning goal at 4:42 of overtime. The Blue Waves had taken a 1-0 lead on a first-half goal by Amanda Dickerson, assisted by Dillingham.
Dillingham started tearing up while recounting that playoff win and one of Riverhead’s best seasons in decades.
“It’s one to remember, definitely,” she said. “I’m never going to forget this, even when I’m older. I think none of us will.”