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10/27/10 7:23pm

The Riverhead Blue Waves boys cross country team turned in an impressive performance from all of its runners on Tuesday afternoon at the Section XI Division Championship at Sunken Meadow State Park. With six of its seven runners turning in personal-best times, Riverhead placed 9th out of 23 teams in the team qualifier race.

The entire Blue Waves team will compete on Nov. 5 in the State Qualifier at Sunken Meadow. The division championship consisted of a championship race, which included the top teams from each league, a team qualifier race and an individual championship race.

Riverhead ‘s Jeremy Warner came in 23rd in the team qualifier in 18 minutes, 53.60 seconds, followed by teammates Ryan Hubbard in 36th (19:09), Travis Wooten in 46th (19:24), Kevin Williams in 70th (19:46.7), Michael Beierle in 89th (20:08.7), and Anthony Galvin in 99th (20:23.4). All six had a personal-record time. Rob Mullen was 124th in 21:08.

“I’m very happy with our performance,” Riverhead coach Pat Burke said. “We wound up third in our league. All the kids worked hard. I’m very pleased.”

Southold ‘s Sal Manno raced in the team qualifier and finished 27th in 18:57.5, which placed him 15th among Division IV runners. The First Settlers’ Griffin Quist was 43rd among Division IV runners in 20:52.70 followed by Matthew Reilly in 22:34.10 (62nd) and Ryan Hanrahan in 22:35.30 (63rd).

Mattituck ‘s Corey Zlatniski finished 50th in the team qualifier race in a time of 19:32, good enough for 20th in Division IV. In the Division IV results, the Tuckers’ John Hamilton came in 23rd at 19:39, Casey Grathwohl was 27th in 19:42, Jesse Grathwohl was 50th in 21:20 and Chris Baglivi was 52nd in 21:33.

“We ran well,” Mattituck coach Julianne Milliman said. “I’m very happy.”

The entire Mattituck team will take part in the State Qualifier because the Tuckers placed in the top six in Suffolk County Class C. In the girls championship, Southold competed as a team in the championship race, placing 21st. Among Division IV teams Southold placed fourth.

Southold ‘s Ivy Croteau came in 73rd in the team championship in 22:21.7, placing her 9th in Division IV. The First Settlers’ Colette Steele was 17th in Division IV in 23:21.3 followed by Shelby Pickerell in 23:58.60 (24th), Meghan Kelley in 24:54.20 (33rd) and Jennifer Roslak in 26:03.10 (45th).

Riverhead ‘s Sarah Governale finished 20th in the Suffolk Division II race in a personal-record time of 23:02. Her teammate Rachel Harrison-Smith was 62nd in 24:46, also a personal record.

The Blue Waves’ Juliana Marcucci was sick and didn’t run, but she still made the State Qualifier on Nov. 5 by running the qualifying time of 21:15 earlier in the season.

“Things are very positive with the girls,” Burke said. “They are hitting their numbers.”

The entire Mattituck girls team will also take part in the State Qualifier because they placed among the top six teams in Suffolk County Class C.

Mattituck coach Jean Mahoney called the divisional, “another opportunity to run Sunken Meadow, and to run against the powerhouse teams.”

Savanna Campbell came in 39th for the Tuckers in the Suffolk Division IV race in 25:39. Mattituck ‘s Megan Finn ran a 25:46 and was 41st, Danielle Knuth was 54th with a 27:38, Halley Kujawski was 57th in 28:07, Yuliya Palianok was 59th in 28:23, and Melissa Barry was 66th in 31:56. Mahoney said that Barry, who has battled injuries all season, “is the spirit of the team. She exemplifies what the kids can do.”

“Our times were OK,” Mahoney said. “We run to have a good time.”

Mahoney said that the Tuckers’ All-League runner Sara Paparatto, who didn’t compete in the division race, may take part in the State Qualifier.

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10/27/10 7:18pm

The turning point came midway through the first set.

Mattituck ‘s Erica Bundrick was leading Karen Serena, the No. 3-seed from East Islip, 3-1 in the quarterfinal round of the Suffolk County girls tennis individual championship Monday afternoon at Smithtown East. Bundrick, who had beaten Bayport’s Laura Torsiello, 6-4, 6-2, in the opening round on Saturday, was on the verge of taking a 4-1 lead against Serena.

But after Bundrick’s being on a marvelous roll the past three weeks, the one stroke that betrayed her was her serve. She double-faulted, which allowed Serena to climb back into the match at 3-2. Serena then ran the table on Bundrick, winning the match 6-3, 6-0.

“I was pleased with the way Erica played,” Mattituck coach Jim Christy said. “She just double faulted too many times. You just can’t give away points at critical moments.”

Christy said that part of Bundrick’s maturation process will be learning how to “deal with the highs and lows of a match.”

Bundrick, a junior, swept past Torsiello in the opening match.

“Erica played every point like it was the final point of the match,” Christy said. “She has learned that when you stay in the present, it brings consistency. When your head is set right, the strokes will follow.”

Christy said that Bundrick has learned that “when she is consistent, she can play with anybody.”

“The key is recognizing our potential,” he said. “If we don’t see it, we hold back and don’t play with confidence. Erica is a very good athlete. When she realized in the East Hampton match a few weeks ago that ‘I can play with these people,’ everything changed. She was able to move people around and make them change their game. Someone was going to break, but it wasn’t going to be her.”

In the Suffolk County team championship, the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs, the 24th-seed, pulled off an upset in the opening round on Oct. 21, winning at ninth-seeded Patchogue-Medford, 4-3.

Mike Clauberg, the Mercy coach, called the win “huge.”

Clauberg said that over the years he has felt his team has not always been seeded as high as it should have been.
“We’ve been in the playoffs the past couple of years, but we still get no respect,” he said. “But we still got the win. It was a big upset.”

Mercy was trailing in the overall match 3-2 and needed to win at second singles and second doubles to pull out the team victory.

The Monarchs had lost two of the first three singles matches, as Patchogue-Medford’s Hanna Lazio swept Mercy’s Ashley Yakaboski, 6-0, 6-0, and Alena Erhart topped Lindsey Merker, 6-1, 6-4. Mercy’s Cassidy Lessard topped Alicia Kraemer, 6-1, 6-0. Clauberg said that Lessard “really stepped up. She was in the zone.”
Mercy then split the first two doubles matches, as the Monarchs’ Kayleigh Macchirole and Erica Blanco triumphed over Cristina Valente and Brigid Logan, 6-2, 6-2. Patchogue-Medford’s Sydney Shandel and Victoria Makolik beat Maryann Naleski and Stefanie Blanco, 6-2, 6-3.

The second singles and second doubles matches were deadlocked at one set apiece.

“We needed both to win in the third set,” Clauberg said, “and that is just what they did.”

The Monarchs’ Elizabeth Barlow came from behind to defeat Brianna Vernoia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

“After the first set, Elizabeth made the proper adjustments,” Clauberg said. “She really came up big.”

Now, it all came down to second doubles. Mercy’s Shannon Merker and Taryn Enck trailed Tiffany Maroquin and Kierstin Berwick 3-4 in the third set. But on a crucial stretch of points, Merker hit a magnificent lob and Enck put away the return shot to give the Monarchs the game and the momentum. Merker and Enck went on to win 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4 to lift Mercy to the stunning upset.

Mercy was scheduled to play at eighth-seeded West Islip yesterday.

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10/25/10 7:04pm

Louis Manoussos, the coach of the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs boys soccer team, said there are no short cuts in building a good team. It takes hard work and dedication. There will be setbacks, unquestionably, along the way.

But Manoussos also knows progress when he sees it and, clearly, the Monarchs flashed their promising potential last week. While Mercy beat Wyandanch 2-1 on Oct. 20 for its second win of the season, what was even more impressive to Manoussos was the way his young team battled in a 2-0 loss at Babylon on Friday.

“Babylon is a good team and we played one of our better games,” he said. “Our kids have played better as the season has gone on. There has been a real transformation in Mercy soccer.”

After Babylon (7-8 overall and 6-5 in Suffolk County League VII) had taken a 1-0 lead on Laurynas Stankaitis’ corner kick goal with 6:34 remaining in the first half, the Monarchs came right back down and appeared to tie the score on a goal by Damien Duda. But the referees disallowed the goal, saying that when Bereket Watts passed the ball to Duda, Watts foot stepped on the out of bounds line. Manoussos said that with angle of the late afternoon sun and the orange out of bounds lines, it was difficult to tell clearly whether Watts was in bounds or not.

“We had a great opportunity,” Manoussos said. “We could’ve tied the game. But we’re a young and inexperienced team and we don’t get the lucky bounces or calls. It is all part of the growing pains.”

Babylon added an insurance goal off a corner kick by Padriac Nugent late in the second half to seal the win.

Despite the loss, Manoussos praised the play of Watts, Duda, Louis Leonardo, Matthew Abazis and Michael Shelton. Leonardo was stopped at point blank range by Babylon goalkeeper Noah Lessing (8 saves). Roger Young (10 saves) played brilliantly in goal for Mercy, keeping the Monarchs in the game.

Against Wyandanch (0-10, 0-10), the Monarchs (2-12, 2-9), after a sluggish start, dominated the rest of the game on their home field. The Warriors scored off a free kick in the first half, but Mercy responded with a pair of goals by Watts in the second half to pull out the win.

At halftime, Manoussos reminded his team to stick with the game plan.

“We have worked hard on our conditioning and I knew we had Wyandanch right where we wanted them. They had no stamina and we had another gear. We pressured them into mistakes.”

Watts tied the game 13 minutes into the second half off a through ball from Justin Dasilva. Watts scored from 16 yards out. Watts netted the game winner at the 27 minute mark, when the Warriors tried to clear the ball from in front of their own goal and Watts intercepted the ball and blasted in a rocket of a shot from six yards out.

Young made three saves in the win.

“We started slow, but once we got in rhythm, we slowly took control of the game,” Manoussos said. “We dictated the pace. We’re finally coming of age. We’re understanding what it takes to win. This was a good win. It was very important for us to come from behind and get a win. We really are coming of age.”

Manoussos said his team needs to build on these two impressive performances.

“These kids are working hard and they deserve everything they get,” he said. “The kids are stepping up. We’re going to have a good, solid program in the near future. Next year, we will grow and be even better. I am proud of the way this team is coming along.”

10/25/10 7:01pm

The tone was set early in Saturday’s Suffolk County Division IV football game between the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs and the Hampton Bays Baymen.

The Baymen had just scored on their opening drive, on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Robbie King to Tim Wheeler, before the Monarchs began moving the ball downfield. Mercy, sparked by the running of Pat Stepnoski (130 yards on 20 carries), picked up three first downs. But on first down at the Hampton Bays 30, the Monarchs were called for a holding penalty, making it first-and-25. Again, the Monarchs were flagged for holding, making it first-and-40.

Mercy, clearly, was going the wrong way.

The Monarchs wound up turning the ball back over to the Baymen. Hampton Bays marched down the field and King scored on a 10-yard run. In a flash, it was 14-0 in favor of the Baymen.

Hampton Bays went on to beat Mercy 55-6.

“We were moving the ball, then we had the two holding penalties,” Mercy coach Joe Read said. “We never recovered from that. It hurt us. After that we had to change the game plan a little.”

The Baymen (4-3) thoroughly dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Hampton Bays, led by King, their quarterback, rushed for 303 total yards. King ran for 74 yards on four carries. He also completed 8 of 8 passes for 101 yards.

“Hampton Bays has a very strong running attack,” Read said. “They ran deceptive schemes and counters that were potent.”

Oskar Ramirez’s 7-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter put Hampton Bays in front 20-0. Andrew Morris plunged in from the 1-yard line early in the second quarter increasing the Baymen’s lead to 28-0.

Mercy (2-5) got on the scoreboard midway through the quarter, when D.J. Wilmott caught a 5-yard swing pass from quarterback Keith Schroeher and bulled his way into the end zone.

But King galloped 56 yards to pay dirt and Ramirez (61 yards on 5 carries) scampered 24 yards for a touchdown to give Hampton Bays a 43-6 lead at the half.

King added a 12-yard TD run and Tracey Kennedy scooted 65 yards into the end zone in the third quarter to cap the Baymen’s scoring.

Igor Leite spearheaded the Hampton Bays defense with 12 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.

“We were able to move the ball some,” Read said, “but we just couldn’t punch it in. The penalties, dropped passes and two interceptions hurt us. It threw us back. Hampton Bays is a tough team. They gave a solid, consistent effort. They were the better team today.”

10/16/10 8:35pm

It was halftime of Friday night’s Suffolk County Division IV football game, and the visiting Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs trailed The Stony Brook School Bears by 20-16. As McGann-Mercy Coach Joe Read talked to his players, he reminded them to stay calm.

“We were in good shape,” Read said afterward. “We know we can outlast teams. We just had to stick to our assignments.”

In a thoroughly dominating second-half performance, the Monarchs did just that. The McGann-Mercy defense held the Bears to five first downs. On offense, the Monarchs’ Pat Stepnoski ran for three of his four touchdowns. He finished with a career-high 259 yards on 31 carries.

McGann-Mercy won, 40-20.

“Once we settled down,” Read said, “our lines did a great job.”

Both teams scored at will in the opening half. McGann-Mercy (2-4) opened the game with an onside kick and marched down the field to score on Rob Terry’s two-yard dive into the end zone. Stepnoski then caught the two-point conversion pass from Keith Schroeher (4 of 7, 73 yards passing).

The Bears (0-6) struck right back when McGann-Mercy missed a defensive assignment and Stony Brook quarterback Marco Masakayan scampered five yards to score.

Early in the second quarter, Stepnoski burst 20 yards up the middle for a touchdown. Terry (87 yards on 10 carries) ran in the two-point conversion to put McGann-Mercy back on top, 16-6.

But Stony Brook answered with two quick touchdowns, the go-ahead score coming on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Masakayan to Jerome Washington.

The Monarchs, who were almost completely healthy for the first time this season, played like a different team in the second half.

D. J. Wilmott and Terry contained Masakayan. The Stony Brook offense never got going again. McGann-Mercy’s Ryan Heimroth recovered a pair of fumbles and teammate Ryan Stetler intercepted a pass.

“Our defense was much better,” Read said. “We were disciplined and aggressive. We gang tackled.”

Stepnoski, running behind the superb blocking of Ray Ellis, Anthony Heppner and Terry, picked up huge chunks of yardage. Early in the third quarter, Stepnoski, on an option run, scooted 23 yards around the end for a touchdown. Terry ran in the two-point conversion.

Stepnoksi then sliced off tackle seven yards into the end zone. He also scored on the two-point conversion run.

Stepnoski capped his performance by galloping 37 yards straight up the middle in the fourth quarter to score untouched. Schroeher ran for the two points. Stepnoksi also caught four passes for 73 yards.

“Pat is a great athlete,” Read said. “Rob Terry is a tremendous asset as his lead blocker, but Pat also has great instincts. He reads the blocks and moves the right way. His instincts take over.”

Read was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“Our potential is now starting to be seen now that we are at full strength,” he said. “I knew we were capable of moving the ball. Now, the defense is starting to kick in.”

This post was originally published Oct. 16, 2010

10/13/10 8:31pm

This bumpy ride of a season for the Riverhead High School girls soccer team continued on Tuesday.

After edging the Copiague Eagles, 2-1, on Friday, the Blue Waves fell to the Comsewogue Warriors, 7-0, on Tuesday afternoon. Comsewogue scored three quick first-half goals and, as Riverhead Coach Tim Page quietly said on the bus ride home, “they pummeled us.”

Crysta Denis tallied two of the first-half goals while Kendall Frank had a goal and an assist. Comsewogue, using the give-and-go to exploit Riverhead , poured in four more goals in the second half. The Blue Waves (3-6 overall, 2-6 in Suffolk County League IV) inadvertently deflected two goals into their own net.

“Comsewogue has a good team,” Page said. “They caught us flatfooted. We tried to keep up, but we have to learn how to mark better. Once we got down, we got even flatter.”

Riverhead goalkeeper Carolyn Carrera made 14 saves or the final score would have been even more lopsided. The Blue Waves did not put a lot of pressure on Comsewogue goalie Kim Comstock (two saves). Riverhead ‘s Ashley Drozd had a couple of good shots on goal, but could not capitalize.

While the loss to Comsewogue (4-5-2, 4-3) was frustrating, the win over Copiague was uplifting.

Riverhead scored all the goals it needed in the first half, as Megan Weiss and Alex McKillop both found the net. Weiss scored at the 25-minute mark off a set play. She drilled the ball into the upper right corner of the net. Five minutes later, McKillop, off a pass from Drozd, blasted a shot from 20 yards out into the upper right corner of the net.

Copiague (1-8, 0-7) cut the Riverhead lead to 2-1 late in the half on a goal by Alyssa Tsistinis off a corner kick.

Both teams turned up the offensive pressure in the second half, but failed to score. Carrera made 11 saves. She came out aggressively on corner kicks to thwart a couple of Copiague scoring opportunities.

“Both teams had equal ability,” Page said. “We both went back and forth, but we held on for the win.”

After losing 13 seniors to graduation, Page said the Blue Waves are about where he thought they would be at this point in the season.

“We’re a young team,” he said. “We’re still moving people around. We’re trying to learn and hopefully find our groove.”

10/13/10 8:12pm

Louis Manoussos knows the growing pains can be difficult. But the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs boys soccer coach also knows what it takes to successfully build a young program. In their fourth varsity season, Manoussos knows the scores right now are irrelevant.

While it was a difficult week on the scoreboard for McGann-Mercy — Center Moriches beat the Monarchs, 7-1, on Tuesday after the Mattituck Tuckers had shut them out, 6-0, last Wednesday — Manoussos said, “The effort was there, but the execution isn’t there yet.”

In the game at Center Moriches, the Red Devils jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before McGann-Mercy’s Bereket Watts scored on a rocket of a shot from 18 yards out. Watts, who started last year as a seventh-grader, is now considered a veteran by Manoussos. Center Moriches (10-2 overall, 7-2 in Suffolk County League VII) scored the final five goals of the game. If not for 12 saves by McGann-Mercy goalkeeper Roger Young the score could have been even more lopsided.

Mattituck (9-1, 6-1), on its home field, thoroughly dominated the Monarchs (1-9, 1-6). The Tuckers, sparked by Andres Aldaz and Shawn Smiley, who scored two goals apiece, exploded for five first-half goals and added four more in the second half. Young had 13 saves. Cody Huntley (two) and Austin Scoggin combined for three saves as the Tuckers recorded their sixth shutout of the season.

“We are overmatched against the bigger schools like Center Moriches and Mattituck ,” Manoussos said. “We don’t have the experience to match up against them yet.”

The Monarchs are starting two eighth-graders, one freshman, and three sophomores. They have six seniors on the bench, and Manoussos is preaching patience.

“I’ve decided to go with youth,” he said. “I want the kids to gain experience so that we’re better next year. The scores of these games are not a true indication of how much we have improved. We’ve gotten spanked, but we will only get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Manoussos takes great pride in building a program.

“Right now we’re competitive in the first half, but we don’t have the experience to play a complete game,” he said. “These kids don’t give up. They are relentlessly on the ball. They play with emotion and passion. They are just young and inexperienced. Their conditioning is tremendous. They maintain their stamina. We’re getting respect, so I know we’re on the right path.”

Manoussos firmly believes “we’ll make some noise in a few years.”

“We’ve just [got] to continue to grow and mature,” he said. “This year we’ve added a junior varsity and a junior high team, which is a great feeder program. My vision is, what can Mercy do in one or two years? These kids really want to play. We’re not very far off.”

10/02/10 4:41pm

This was one that got away from the Riverhead Blue Waves.

Riverhead built a 17-0 halftime lead against the visiting Bellport Clippers in a Suffolk County Division II football game on Saturday afternoon. But time and again, the young and inexperienced Blue Waves made mistakes. Instead of putting the game away, Riverhead ‘s miscues, and some questionable calls by the Blue Waves’ coaching staff in the second half, allowed the Clippers to hang around.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Bellport offense came to life as quarterback Justin Honce twice connected with wide receiver Alejandro Morales on long touchdown passes, leading Bellport to a stunning 20-17 victory.

Trailing by 17-14 with 2 minutes 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the scrambling Honce double pumped and hit Morales over the middle for a 17-yard touchdown pass.

Riverhead (1-3) opened the door for the Clippers (2-2) to score when Riverhead quarterback Ryan Bitzer tried an up the middle screen pass that was easily intercepted by Bellport lineman Ryan Sloan, who returned the ball to Riverhead ‘s 22-yard line. Three plays later, Honce hit Morales with the winning touchdown pass.

Earlier in the quarter, Honce had found Morales streaking down the left sideline for a 52-yard scoring strike.

The Blue Waves had one last chance. But on fourth-and-1 from the Riverhead 45 with 1:18 remaining, the Blue Waves ran a Wildcat play with Kurt Carter handing off to Charles Bartlett, who was swarmed by tacklers, well short of the first down.

Riverhead had taken a 3-0 lead on Esteban Aarp’s 33-yard field goal with 7:34 left in the first quarter. The Blue Waves’ lead grew to 10-0 with 1:02 remaining in the quarter when Bitzer lofted a pass to Rodney Rollins down the right sidelines for an 88-yard touchdown. With 28 seconds remaining in the half, Bitzer hit Rollins with a pass in the left corner of the end zone, giving Riverhead a 17-0 lead.

Bellport’s comeback began early in the third quarter, as Armand Correa burst 47 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. That set the stage for Honce’s pair of touchdown passes to Morales in the fourth quarter, lifting the Clippers to the thrilling win.

Asked about some of the play calls and the no-huddle offense that at times seemed to slow down the Blue Waves’ momentum because it took so long for the coaches to call the plays, Riverhead Coach Leif Shay said: “All the kids played hard. We are proud of our kids.”

Midway through the second quarter the Blue Waves shot themselves in the foot. Bartlett had a long touchdown run nullified by a holding penalty.

Bellport’s comeback began early in the third quarter with Correa’s touchdown run. The momentum was beginning to shift to the Clippers as their defense put more and more pressure on Bitzer.

Riverhead ‘s defense dodged a bullet early in the fourth quarter when Carter intercepted a hurried pass by Honce at the Riverhead 9. But the Blue Waves’ offense quickly went three and out.