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Top Sports Stories 2019: Tradition stays strong for Riverhead field hockey

The playoffs have become a mainstay for the Riverhead field hockey team in recent years. Even considering that recent run of success, the Blue Waves entered the 2019 season facing some questions.

For starters, one of their top players transferred to an out-of-state prep school. The team had also graduated nine seniors and featured just eight upperclassmen, four of whom were new to varsity.

“I still think they have the capability of doing really well and making the playoffs,” coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said prior to the season.

And she was right.

Led by seniors midfielder Katie Goodale and Kristy Troyan, the Blue Waves once again emerged as one of the top teams in Suffolk County, earning the eighth seed in the Class A Section XI Tournament.

Goodale, a five-year varsity starter, played a major role in the team’s success in her final year for the Blue Waves. Her speed, stick skills and endurance helped ignite the team’s offense and allowed teammates like Troyan, Ava Lily Sumwalt, Jessica Columbus and Kayla Monticiollo to excel.

Columbus came up huge for the Blue Waves in the final regular season game, played just three days after Columbus Day. She scored both goals, including the winner with two minutes left in the second half as Riverhead defeated Huntington, 2-1. The win set up the Blue Waves for a home playoff game against No. 9 East Islip at Pulaski Sports Complex.

Leading up to the game, the Blue Waves were unsure if Troyan could play after she sprained her right ankle at the end of the win against Huntington. But with six days to rest in between games, Troyan was able to suit up and ended up being the hero.

She scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory that sent the Blue Waves up against the top seed, Sachem East. The season ultimately ended there in the quarterfinals and unbeaten Sachem East went on to advance to the state semifinals before suffering its first loss.