Not a bad opening act.
Three years ago, a field hockey program at Eastport-South Manor began with a junior high team. The next two years the program expanded with a junior varsity, all leading into this year’s inaugural varsity season.
The Sharks may be a bit late the show, but what a start it has been.
The Sharks ousted Riverhead Saturday in the first round of the Class A playoffs, winning 3-0 against the Blue Waves at Eastport-South Manor High School. The sixth-seeded Sharks (11-4) advance to play No. 3 Northport Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
For a young team, it was fittingly a neophyte that supplied the big blows. Freshman forward Kasey Choma scored the first two goals and assisted on the third.
She was subbed out of the game with 2 minutes 52 seconds left after the final Sharks goal and was met with enthusiastic high-fives from her teammates.
A player who has already made a name for herself as a lacrosse player — she played on varsity last year as an eighth-grader — Choma is still a newcomer to field hockey.
Those skills from lacrosse have translated over well to field hockey. Her first goal with 21:49 left in the second half was set up on a pass from outside the scoring circle by Emily Masera. Choma dribbled into the middle, with the defense late to collapse on her, and got off a shot past Riverhead’s goalkeeper, Grace Dow, to break the ice.
At that point, the tide had already begun to shift in Eastport’s favor. After a mostly even first half, the Sharks gradually picked up the play in Riverhead’s end in the second half. The Blue Waves have been a team that at times struggled in the second half of games. This one was no exception.
The Sharks finished with a decided advantage in penalty corners, 12-2. Both of the Blue Waves’ chances came in the first half.
Choma ripped another goal with 16:40 left to put the Sharks comfortably in front by two goals.
For the Blue Waves, it was the second straight season they advanced into the playoffs. While they didn’t come away with a win this year, they can take solace in the fact that the majority of this year’s team will return next fall.
The Blue Waves (8-7) started three seniors Saturday: Katelyn Zaneski, Emily Masse and Emily Pearce.
While the players were thrilled at the chance to play another postseason game, they had to miss their final homecoming. Back in Riverhead, the Blue Waves’ football team was hosting Bellport at the same time.
Photo Caption: Riverhead senior Katelyn Zaneski dribbles the ball with Eastport’s Jocelyn Miller behind her. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)