Featured Story

Field Hockey: Graziano brings Riverhead OT victory

A win is a win, as they say, but there is something about the thrill of a sudden-victory overtime triumph that may make it feel extra special for a high school field hockey team. Perhaps it’s the drama. The intensity could have something to do with it.

Regardless, Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards could do without overtime.

“I don’t like them,” she said. “It’s just another stressful situation.”

That stress lasted until Angie Graziano relieved it with her game-winning goal 7 minutes, 9 seconds into overtime, taking down Newfield, 2-1, at the Pulaski Sports Complex in Riverhead on Wednesday.

“It’s the worst way to lose and the best way to win,” said Graziano, a junior left forward who never scored an OT winner before.

Graziano’s second goal of the game came off a penalty corner by Kayla Kielbasa, who passed to Rease Coleman. Coleman didn’t have a shot so she dropped the ball back to Graziano.

“I knew that the girl was coming and closing on me so I just did a reverse sweep as hard as I could,” Graziano said. “After the ball went in, I was pretty shocked and I was just really happy, and all of a sudden I just see [teammate Katie Goodale’s] face right in my face and I just gave her the biggest hug ever.”

What was Goodale’s reaction?

“I was just overwhelmed,” the sophomore center forward said. “That was such a beautiful shot.”

Graziano nearly won the game a couple of minutes earlier. A Goodale pass found her on the doorstep, but she swept her shot off the left post.

Riverhead (4-3 overall and in Suffolk County Division I) had gotten off to a quick start with Graziano’s first goal, assisted by Goodale, 2:06 into the game.

From that point on, though, Newfield (1-4, 1-4) picked up its level and was rewarded with an equalizer by Lexi Muccio, set up by Camryn Aiello, 12:23 into the second half.

Goodale nearly had a go-ahead goal with a little over eight minutes left in the second half, but goalie Haley Rodgers stopped her.

“We started strong and then petered after our first goal,” Walsh-Edwards said. “I don’t know that they took us out of our game or we took ourselves out of our game, but we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing.”

In retrospect, overtime might have been a blessing for Riverhead. That was when the Blue Waves played their best field hockey.

Unlike the 60 minutes of regulation time when both teams have 11 players on the field, overtime is seven vs. seven, with a premium placed on speed and individual skills.

“It’s totally different,” Goodale said. “The field just seems a lot bigger. When you have those breakaways in the seven v. seven, there’s literally no one there, so your stick skills really come into play.”

Of Riverhead’s first overtime of the season, Goodale said, “I never want to get that far, but once I’m in that, then I think you have to have the mindset that I want to be here and I want to play to win.”

Riverhead held a 13-6 shots advantage and benefitted from crucial saves by Victoria Stapon.

Riverhead’s three losses this season have come to tough opponents in Eastport-South Manor, Ward Melville and Smithtown East. Graziano said she believes losing those games “really woke us up because then it just pushed us to go even harder.”

Walsh-Edwards had made a deal with her players before Wednesday’s game. “I said if they won and played well, they could have off tomorrow,” she said. “And they only really did one of the two — they won. They did not play well, so we will be having practice tomorrow.”
They will likely be wearing smiles on their faces, though. Wins like this don’t wear off quickly.

[email protected]

Photo caption: Riverhead’s Katie Goodale jumps into the arms of Angie Graziano after Graziano scored the sudden-victory overtime goal to defeat Newfield. (Credit: Bob Liepa)