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Girls Lacrosse: Riverhead closes in on first playoff berth

Riverhead lacrosse player Kayla Kielbasa 050916

Riverhead will have to wait until another day to complete its quest of reaching the Suffolk County high school girls lacrosse playoffs for the first time.

The Blue Waves came close to taking a giant step toward the postseason, but dropped a heart-breaking 10-9 Division I decision at Commack High School Monday afternoon.

Midfielder Diana Johnston snapped a 9-all tie with a free-position shot with 2 minutes 4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to lead the Cougars (8-7, 6-7) over the Blue Waves in an entertaining game.

Riverhead (7-7, 7-5) entered the game No. 8 out of a possible 11 teams that will be seeded for the Class A tournament, which will begin on Wednesday, May 18. The Blue Waves had 110.72 power-rating points, Commack 102.83.

Riverhead stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the opening nine minutes behind goals from Emma Panciocco, Meghan Kielbasa (two goals) and Kayla Kielbasa (team-high four goals, three assists). But Commack equalized at 3-3 on goals by Natalie Salomon, Brie Springer (three goals) and Casey Hearns (four goals) with 10:25 remaining in the first half.

The rest of the game became a back-and-forth battle.

Kayla Kielbasa’s second goal with 7:52 to go past goalie Cat Deutsch lifted Riverhead into a 4-3 edge, but Hearns tied it at 4-4 with 4:17 remaining in the half before Meghan Kielbasa gave the Blue Waves a 5-4 halftime lead with 20 seconds left.

Commack came out strong in the second half, striking for three consecutive scores by Johnston (two goals), Hearns and Springer past goaltender Rachel Bornstein to grab a 7-5 advantage with 21:04 remaining.

Then it was Riverhead’s turn for a surge as Courtney Troyan (two goals) tallied once and Meghan Kielbasa twice to take an 8-7 lead with 12:19 remaining in the game.

The Cougars, however, were far from finished. Hearns knotted things up with 11:02 to go and Springer converted a free-position shot with 7:21 left for a 9-8 lead.

Troyan connected for her second of the match on a shot that dribbled into the net with 2:44 remaining before Johnston scored the game-winner only 40 seconds later.

The Blue Waves have two more opportunities to secure a berth, hosting William Floyd on Wednesday and Longwood on Senior Day on Thursday.

Photo caption: Kayla Kielbasa fires in a shot for a Riverhead goal. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)