Even now, five years later, when Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards looks at Katie Goodale, she still sees the face of the young blonde girl who tried out and made her field hockey team as an eighth-grader, the youngest player on the team. “I look at her now, she looks mature, but her face still looks the same,” said Walsh-Edwards.
Walsh-Edwards recalled talking to Goodale’s father back then and telling him, “She’s going to be on varsity and she’s going to play.”
Goodale hasn’t stopped playing since. The five-year varsity starter is the team’s longest-serving player. My how time flies.
“It went by really fast,” Goodale said of a sizable chunk of her 17-year life. “I can’t believe I’m a senior.”
Riverhead has gone from being a senior-rich team in 2018 to a relatively young side in 2019. Goodale, a center midfielder who earned All-County status last year, is one of the team’s four seniors. The other three — forward Kristy Troyan, midfielder Lauren Kenny and forward Kayla Monticiollo — are starters as well. The team’s four juniors are all first-year players and then there are eight sophomores and an eighth-grader, midfielder Peyton Choma.
“A lot of underclassmen,” Goodale said. She hastened to add: “There’s no reason for us to think that we shouldn’t be as good as last year. We can be just as good, and maybe even better than we were last year.”
Goodale has done her part, using her speed, stick skills and endurance to help feed balls to the forward line for people like Troyan, Ava Lily Sumwalt, Jessica Columbus and Monticiollo.
Goodale has a goal and a few assists this season, but then again, her game isn’t about the stats. She’s the sort of player who helps others pump up their numbers, such as Troyan (eight goals, one assist through eight games) and Sumwalt (seven goals, one assist).
“Katie is amazing at field hockey,” Troyan said. “She’s so good. I look up to her so much. She’s a really fast player. She’s a reason why a lot of us score all the time.”
Walsh-Edwards likes Goodale’s positivity and work ethic. “She really works hard,” the coach said. “I could never fault her work ethic. That’s something I always look for.”
Goodale and her teammates faced a tough test Wednesday against sixth-seeded Bay Shore at Pulaski Sports Complex in Riverhead. Claire McCarthy scored the go-ahead and tying goals as Bay Shore triumphed, 3-1.
Bay Shore (8-1, 7-1 Suffolk County Division I) shot out to an early lead when Zoe Hendricks, assisted by Megan Mattfeld, made it 1-0 a mere 2 minutes and 16 seconds into the contest.
But Riverhead (4-4, 4-4) drew even just 1:27 later. Troyan reached her stick forward amid a crowd of eight players in front of the Bay Shore goal and poked the ball past goalkeeper Avery Robinson-Becker. Some industrious work along the endline by Sumwalt set up the score. It was Riverhead’s only shot of the first half.
But McCarthy’s first goal, off a pass from Kaelyn Pellman, put Bay Shore ahead with 9:35 left in the first half. McCarthy’s second goal was a second-half breakaway in which she charged in alone on goalkeeper Isabella Williams.
“I think they’re doing really well,” Walsh-Edwards said of the eighth-seeded Blue Waves. “I couldn’t ask for more. They’re working hard and they’re in every game. They don’t give up. They go to the last minute.”
Troyan concurred. “Honestly, I personally think today was a good day for everyone,” she said. “I didn’t see anyone giving up. I thought everyone was running their hardest and trying their hardest.”
That, of course, includes the gritty Goodale (whose younger sister Alex is a sophomore defender on the team).
“Today I don’t think she shined as much and she was frustrated because she felt like she wasn’t touching the ball as much as she does other games,” Walsh-Edwards said. “I think the other team did a nice job on her. At times there were three people on her.”
What was Goodale’s impact on the team as an eighth-grader?
“I think she played every minute,” Walsh-Edwards recalled. “She’s the kind that doesn’t really come out unless she begs to or unless she gets hurt; otherwise, she’s in the whole time.”
That’s the way it has been for five years now.
Photo caption: Riverhead center midfielder Katie Goodale awaits a pass during the second half of her team’s 3-1 loss to Bay Shore at Pulaski Sports Complex. (Credit: Bob Liepa)