Some may have wondered whether Kristy Troyan would be able to play in the Riverhead High School field hockey team’s playoff game Wednesday, but there was no question in Troyan’s mind.
Troyan, who has a reputation for being a tough player, sprained her right ankle when she stepped on another player’s foot in the final regular-season game last Thursday in Huntington. The good news was that she had six days to rest and recover before Riverhead’s Suffolk County Class A outbracket game. It’s amazing what a bucket of ice and a whole lot of determination can do for a player.
“There was nothing that really was going to keep her from playing,” Riverhead coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said. “She was like, ‘I’m going to be fine. I’m going to be fine.’ Meanwhile, as her coach, I was obviously nervous.”
Troyan played Wednesday, and it was a good thing for eighth-seeded Riverhead that she did because she scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over No. 9 East Islip at Pulaski Sports Complex.
“I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be my last game or not, what was going to happen,” Troyan said. “I didn’t want that to be our last game.”
It was a discomforting sight to see Troyan go down in pain 16 minutes and 28 seconds into the Huntington game and then have to be helped off the field, applying no pressure on her right foot. For one thing, the senior forward happens to be the team’s leading points producer.
The day after that game, she said, the ankle was “hurting bad.” But she followed a regimen of icing her foot in a bucket and doing exercises, as advised by Walsh-Edwards, assistant coach Jim Janecek and trainer Chris Hildebrandt. She rested the ankle over the weekend before practicing Monday and Tuesday.
“I took it slow a little bit the first day I got back [because] I didn’t want to hurt it more, but it’s all good now,” said Troyan, who declared herself 100% and feeling good after Wednesday’s game.
Having a healthy Troyan on the field is a big boost for Riverhead (9-6).
“She’s really fast,” senior left midfielder Lauren Kenny said. “You can always count on her to score … She’s a big part of our offense.”
Troyan reached around goalkeeper Madalyn Von Hassel (eight saves) and knocked in her 12th goal of the season 2:49 into the second half, making it 2-0. (She also has three assists this year).
Asked if she had ever scored a bigger goal in her life, Troyan answered: “Maybe not. I don’t think so.”
Riverhead came out strong and its confidence was buoyed when Ava Lily Sumwalt swept in Riverhead’s first shot 3:31 into the contest. Sumwalt has 11 goals and one assist to her credit this year.
“I thought we had a really strong first half,” Walsh-Edwards said. “I thought we were dominating and I thought we had a lot more opportunities to score and just didn’t capitalize on them.”
East Islip (8-8) made things interesting when Allison Chiarelli scored with 3:29 left in the second half. The Redmen applied pressure through a couple of late penalty corners, which can wear down a defense. Riverhead outshot East Islip, 10-5, but the Redmen held a 13-7 advantage in penalty corners.
“I hate corners,” said Walsh-Edwards.
Troyan said: “My heart was racing the whole time. I was telling everyone that was on the 50[-yard line], ‘Just run as fast as you can because that’s the only thing you can do, and just get back on defense.’ It’s nerve-wracking, though, when that happens.”
Goalkeeper Izzy Williams (four saves) and defenders Lauren Kruger, Rachel Rempe and Briana Palhares, with help from midfielders Katie Goodale, Peyton Choma and Kenny, hung tough. Riverhead survived, and now as a reward will face No. 1 seed Sachem East (14-0) in a county quarterfinal Saturday.
“I’m really excited,” Kenny said. “We worked hard all season, but it’s my senior season, so playing one more game is the best you’re going to get. It’s one-and-done time.”
For the Riverhead seniors, who probably played their last game on their home field, it’s a nice memory to take with them.
Troyan, a four-year varsity player, said, “It’s sad thinking about it because I’m going to miss it so much.”
Photo caption: Riverhead’s Katie Goodale, left, and East Islip’s Alyssa Levy battle for the ball in Wednesday’s playoff game at Pulaski Sports Complex. (Credit: Bob Liepa)