From Riverhead’s perspective, it could have been worse. A lot worse. It was only by the grace of Dow that it wasn’t.
That would be Grace Dow, Riverhead High School’s senior field hockey goalie.
A big Suffolk County Division II matchup between third-place Riverhead and second-place Eastport-South Manor on Saturday morning wasn’t as close as expected, or as the final score indicates, and that is thanks to Dow.
With Eastport’s All-State goalie, Dayna Martinetto, and Dow, an All-League netminder, a low-scoring game was anticipated. But it was Dow, who did much of the work while Martinetto didn’t need to make a save in her team’s 2-0 win in Manorville.
Dow was credited with 23 saves, but the two shots that got by her, by sophomore forward Jaime Biskup and junior midfielder Jamie Margiotta, were the difference.
Eastport (5-0, 5-0) exerted tremendous pressure on the Riverhead defense, penning the Blue Waves (3-2, 3-2) in their own end for good chunks of the game. It was relentless. The Sharks launched 28 shots and earned 16 penalty corners. When a defense allows that many shots and penalty corners, something bad is bound to happen sooner or later.
Biskup capitalized off the rebound of a saved shot by Chelsea Cangro for a 1-0 lead 5 minutes, 11 seconds into the game. By then Dow already had six saves.
Margiotta buried a shot to ice things with 9:30 left to play.
Eastport had other close chances, too. Emily Masera reached for a sliding ball in the goalmouth, but missed it with an open goal teasing her. Dow made a pad stop on Cangro and then reacted with a sprawling denial of Masera on the rebound. Late in the game, Eastport’s Megan Vecere directed a shot that flew inches wide to the right.
Meanwhile, Riverhead’s offense was quiet, failing to register a single penalty corner. Martinetto could have sat in a chair in front of her goal. The only shot Riverhead managed over the full 60 minutes, by Rease Coleman, was off target.
Dow’s 23 saves equaled her season-high total in a 1-0 loss to Smithtown East.
Photo caption: Riverhead players cheer each other during the stick check prior to Saturday’s game against Eastport-South Manor. (Credit: Bob Liepa)