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Top Sports Stories 2018: Riverhead field hockey advances in playoffs

The Riverhead field hockey team began the season with high expectations. After all, the team had lost only two starters from the previous year, when the Blue Waves won their first-ever home playoff game.

The Blue Waves returned four-year varsity players like seniors Kayla Kielbasa, Angie Graziano, Christy Falisi and Sarah Rempe.

“I’m hoping that they have a great season,” coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said during the preseason. “I think this senior group, especially, deserves it.”

The Blue Waves had a great season indeed, posting an 8-6 record that put them into fifth place in the Division I power rankings out of 24 teams.

It set the stage for a home playoff match in October where the Blue Waves faced No. 12 West Islip. Kielbasa led the way with a goal and assist to lead the Blue Waves to a 3-0 victory. The victory sent the Blue Waves into the county quarterfinals, where they met No. 4 Ward Melville, a perennial powerhouse in Suffolk County field hockey. The Blue Waves battled the Patriots hard and were tied in the second half before Arielle Rohan broke through with a go-ahead goal to give Ward Melville the lead. The Blue Waves had taken a 1-0 lead into the second half before the Patriots turned it on late and escaped with a 3-1 win to bring Riverhead’s season to an end. Ward Melville ended up dropping its next game in the semifinals against top-seeded Sachem East, the county champion.

Photo caption: The Riverhead field hockey team celebrates a win. (Credit: Bob Liepa)