Darkness descended on the brand new turf field at the Pulaski Sports Complex, and a shadow of doubt hung over the Riverhead High School field hockey team’s playoff chances.
The first game on the field will be a memorable one in more ways than one. For starters, it will take more than one day to complete and the result could determine whether Riverhead will reach the postseason for a fifth straight year.
The final regular-season game between Huntington and Riverhead on Tuesday was suspended following a scoreless 10-minute sudden-death overtime period with the score tied, 2-2. Both coaches, Huntington’s Kathy Wright and Riverhead’s Cheryl Walsh, had submitted the names of their goalies and shooters for the penalty shootout before a game official called the game because of darkness.
When and where the game would be completed seemed a matter of uncertainty although Walsh said she expected the penalty shootout to take place Wednesday in Riverhead.
The Suffolk County Division II game, scheduled for a 4 p.m. start, began about 45 minutes later because of Huntington’s late arrival.
Riverhead (8-6, 7-6) squandered a 2-0 lead as Huntington (5-8, 5-7) struck for two goals within 2:41 of each other late in the second half.
Anna Wickey, a freshman link/forward with strong stick skills who strikes the ball well, was a source of Riverhead’s troubles. She assisted on Huntington’s first goal, which Michaela Carnesi swept in, and then scored the equalizer herself. Elizabeth Berejka set up Wickey, who teed off on a shot that went in with 2:36 left in regulation time.
The Huntington goals took away a lot of the joy of Senior Day for Riverhead’s three seniors: goalie Grace Dow (seven saves) and defensemen Janelle Carey and Morgan Crowley.
When these teams played earlier this season, eighth-grader Rease Coleman scored all four goals in Riverhead’s 4-0 win. Coleman stung the Blue Devils again, this time with a goal and an assist.
Coleman capitalized off a goalmouth scramble at 24:06. Katherine Goodale was credited with the assist.
Riverhead looked on the verge of sealing the win when Laryssa Olsen finished off a centering pass from Coleman with a first-time shot for a 2-0 lead with 10:06 left in the second half.
For the penalty shootout, Walsh submitted the names of Goodale, Kayla Kielbasa, Coleman, Christy Falisi and Shannon Schmidt.
Walsh said she was approaching the game as a must-win scenario for the Blue Waves, who sat in fifth place at the start of the day. The top six teams in the division will qualify for the playoffs.
Photo caption: Riverhead’s field hockey team christened the brand new turf field at the Pulaski Sports Complex. (Credit: Bob Liepa)