CLASS A PLAYOFFS | PATRIOTS 12, BLUE WAVES 4
In only their second postseason appearance in program history, the 13th-seeded Riverhead Blue Waves had their hands full with No. 4 Ward Melville on the road Friday afternoon.
Few outside the Blue Waves locker room might have imagined the game’s start. After two quarters, Ward Melville — a program whose championship pedigree dates back to the 1970s — was left clinging to a one-goal lead against the Blue Waves.
But the Patriots (15-2) gradually pulled away in the second half, keeping Riverhead off the scoreboard the rest of the way en route to a 12-4 win in the opening round of the Class A playoffs at Ward Melville High School.
“The score is just a reflection of their skill level,” said Riverhead coach Vic Guadagnino. “We fought the whole game from the beginning to the end. We did the hard work, we played a hard-nosed game and we leave this field with our heads held high.”
Sophomore goalie Jacob Coleman bore the full brunt of the Patriot offensive pressure, making save after save in the first quarter when Ward Melville was able to sneak one by with 12 seconds left to take a 1-0 lead.
Riverhead’s Mark Andrejack answered back a half minute into the second quarter to tie the game, 1-1. Andrejack did it again 30 seconds later as the Blue Waves (8-8) took their first lead of the game.
“They played like we thought they were going to play, but we played hard and we didn’t give up,” Andrejack said. “But they’re a great team and great teams do what great teams do.”
With just over nine minutes left in the half, Riverhead’s Desmond Daniels found the cage unassisted and the Blue Waves led 3-1.
“We came out strong and it was a one-goal game at the half and we ran it,” Daniels said. “The coach said if we can hold them off in the first few minutes of the third quarter, we’ll be in good shape. But we let them score three or four goals and it fell apart from there.”
With the game tied at 3, Riverhead’s Austin Fitzpatrick dished one off to RJ Foster, who buried his shot to retake the lead 4-3 with 5:50 left in the half.
Coleman, under attack at the cage, fought off shot after shot until one snuck by to retie the game, 4-4.
“I knew they were going to score goals, they’re good shooters so they came out firing in the first quarter so I had to make a lot of saves,” Coleman said. “But I think we carried the momentum into the second quarter and we scored a couple of goals.”
With less than a minute left in the half, Ward Melville split the pipes to edge ahead 5-4 and from there, they never looked back. The Patriots took control of the game, shut down the Blue Wave attack, rattled off seven unanswered points and bled the clock out to secure the victory, advancing to the quarterfinals Tuesday.
Coleman recorded 20 saves on the afternoon and senior John Roca had three.