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Featured Story
10/19/19 9:10pm
10/19/2019 9:10 PM

One can forget about all that No. 12 preseason seeding and newcomer to Suffolk County Division I stuff. The Riverhead football team is no longer a surprise.

So, maybe you can’t call Riverhead’s 28-21 victory over Patchogue-Medford Saturday a surprise, but it was a shot in the arm to the team’s playoff chances. READ

Featured Story
08/31/17 3:10pm
08/31/2017 3:10 PM

The start to the fastest season in high school sports began Thursday for girls tennis players throughout Suffolk County. Like a new package being unwrapped, it’s the first true glimpse teams get of themselves, and their opponents, in match competition. Who knows what it will all lead to later this fall? That’s part of the allure.

One thing is for sure:

“The season goes by so fast,” Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Jamie Densieski said. “It’s sad, but it’s a lot of fun.”

That fun began in the sun. Absolutely beautiful weather with brilliant sunshine contributed to an idyllic setting for the season opener for both Patchogue-Medford and Mercy in a non-leaguer at Mercy’s Keith Goodale ’95 Memorial Tennis Courts. The cherry on top for Mercy was a 5-2 victory.

“It was a nice day for McGann-Mercy tennis,” said coach Mike Clauberg, whose team has been promoted to League VII after winning the League VIII championship last year and going 18-1.

It was a nice day for Rose Hayes, too. The eighth-grader, in her second year as Mercy’s first singles player, became the school’s first all-state player last year. She went 25-6 and reached the Suffolk Division IV singles final, virtually unheard of for a player that young.

Hayes said she is “a little different player now. Last year I really did just wait for the others to make mistakes. But now I feel like I’m being more forceful and I’ll put the ball away.”

True to her word, Hayes did just that as she began the new season in convincing fashion, blasting away 16 winners as she rolled to a quick, tidy 6-0, 6-2 win over Patchogue senior Taylor Hanscom. Hayes has a way of pressuring opponents into mistakes. One reporter’s count had her for no unforced errors to 13 for Hanscom.

And yet, when asked afterward how she thought she played, Hayes answered, “Not too great.”

Asked if she is a harsh critic of herself, Hayes responded, “Sometimes I’m too hard on myself because then I get frustrated and make mistakes, but I mean, if you don’t see what you did wrong, then you can’t get better.”

What did Clauberg think of what he saw from Hayes?

“Rose is Rose,” he said. “She is fundamentally just so sound.”

Opening day is also about sorting through nerves, which the Monarchs appeared to do well.

Densieski registered a 6-1, 6-2 victory over fellow junior Shelby Kurera at second singles.

“We had a lot of 40-alls,” Densieski said. “She really kept up, but in the end, I kind of thought and worked on my placement, but it was a great match.”

In third singles, after winning the first set, 6-3, and dropping the second, 7-5, Mercy sophomore Kelsey Bundrick prevailed over junior Trinity Barberis on a 7-3 tiebreaker.

Mercy’s third doubles team of juniors Julia Cappiello and Lizzy Hannah gave their side a 4-1 lead in team points with their 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback triumph over eighth-grader Isabelle Baginski and senior Heather Holzer. It was Cappiello’s varsity debut. Hannah played one varsity match last year.

The other Mercy team point came from the first doubles duo of Brooke Kappenberg and Ryan Waski. They defeated Emily Berkmeyer and Faye Kho, 6-4, 6-4.

Patchogue’s wins came at fourth singles through Julia Keiffert (7-5, 6-3 over Karina Ellis) and second doubles through Angela Avecillas and Marissa Yun (6-1, 6-3 over Jocelyn Lessard and Jordyn Stromski).

“The doubles combinations are working well,” Clauberg said. “We did better than I thought we would at doubles, and I learned that we have a lot of work to do. We’re in a tough league, but we’re going to get better.”

Hayes likes her team — on and off the court.

“They’re all super nice,” she said of her teammates. “Mercy is probably the kindest team you’ll ever meet. They’re so nice, all of them. They’re almost too nice.”

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Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy eighth-grader Rose Hayes opened her season with a tidy 6-0, 6-2 defeat of Patchogue-Medford senior Taylor Hanscom. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

01/10/13 6:57pm
01/10/2013 6:57 PM

RAIDERS 17, BLUE WAVES 16

Huddled together in a corner of Wildwood Lanes, the members of the Riverhead boys bowling team let out their prematch chant: “Playoffs on three! One, two, three — playoffs!”

Those words say it all, as far as Riverhead’s mindset for what it wants to achieve this season is concerned. The Blue Waves are aiming to qualify for the Suffolk County tournament for the second time in three years. They will do just that if they finish the regular season among the top three teams in League III.

Riverhead was the third-place holder prior to Thursday’s matches, but the Blue Waves suffered something of a setback that day. They won two of the three games, but Patchogue-Medford took the total wood and a 17-16 victory in Riverhead’s home alley. Call it an opportunity missed.

The result left Riverhead with 157 1/2 points. The Raiders, who were sixth in the standings at the start of the day, have 116 1/2 points on the season.

“We’ve been getting better each match,” Riverhead coach Scott Hackal said. “We had a bump in the road today, but it’s been getting better.”

James Knoebel rolled a 226 and then a 253 in the first two games on the way to a 662 series for Patchogue-Medford, which outpinned the Blue Waves, 2,830-2,788. Knoebel, a senior, put away 20 strikes and eight spares.

Another Patchogue-Medford bowler, Scott Welsh, had a 508 series, with the aid of 11 strikes and a match-high 14 spares.

Riverhead was led by brothers Jonathan and D. J. Visek. Jonathan, an eighth-grader in his second varsity season, was consistent, with scores of 214, 199 and 203 for a 616 series. It was his third 600 series of the season. D. J., a junior with an unorthodox two-handed throwing style, shot a 237 in the final game for a 602 series.

Some nice individual games were thrown by other Blue Waves. Kyle Irwin rolled a 202. Nick Giannillo threw a 194. Austin Douglas had a 193. Forrest Vail put up a 192.

Riverhead’s scores in the three games looked like two peaks sandwiching a valley. The Blue Waves started the match well enough, winning the first game, 956-866. But then they dropped the second game, 1,057-804, before winning the third, 1,028-907.

“The second game killed us,” said Hackal.

While Riverhead outgunned Patchogue-Medford in strikes, 80-69, it was the Raiders who held the advantage in spares, 59-42, giving further evidence that spares are the name of the game in high school bowling.

Jonathan Visek (20 strikes, eight spares) is undoubtedly one of the county’s bright, up-and-coming bowlers. When he first joined the team last season as a seventh-grader, his older brother warned him that he would be dealing with pressure.

Pressure? That hasn’t seemed to be a problem for him.

Jonathan Visek bowled a 300 game in practice earlier this season. With Thursday’s performance, he brought his season average to 196. In 23 games, he has registered 10 game scores of 200 or more. His season-high single-game score is 232, and his season-high series is 653.

How good of a bowler is Jonathan Visek?

“I have to say he’s a great bowler,” D. J. Visek said. “He got a 300 in practice, a perfect game. … I realized he was something. He was a lot different from everyone else.”

D. J. Visek is enjoying an even more successful season than his brother. D.J. Visek was left with a 203 average after Thursday’s match, no small thanks to his relatively new throwing style.

A severe slump prompted to D. J. Visek to go to the two-handed approach, something he saw other bowlers do at a tournament last year.

“I was kind of in a slump for about, I’d say, eight months, where as opposed to getting 200 games and having a higher series, I went down,” he recalled. “I wasn’t getting games over 150 or 160. I think switching to double-handing gave me the look and the feel of the ball that I wanted to have, and it improved a lot.”

So, last summer he made the switch. He said it took him about a month to feel comfortable with it, and the results since then speak for themselves. This season he has recorded seven series scores of 600 or more, eight games of 200 or more. Among them are a 279 high game and a 676 high series.

“Over a summer I was able to completely switch to double-handing and come back with my highest average ever on the team,” D. J. Visek said. “Basically, it takes away using your thumb. It was easier for me to hook the ball. … I feel like I can put the ball where I want.”

Now the Blue Waves are hoping to finish the season where they want: in the county tournament.

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05/09/11 10:52pm
05/09/2011 10:52 PM

It might not have been exactly the passing of the torch, but more of the returning of the hair tie that marked the occasion.

Two talented lacrosse players, one at the beginning of her high school career, the other nearing the end, met during the pre-game captain meeting with the referees at Patchogue-Medford High School on Tuesday.

Riverhead freshman midfielder Carolyn Carrera shook hands with Patchogue-Medford senior middie Holly Ventimiglia, who asked her for a favor.

“Can I borrow a hair tie?” she asked. “I need to braid my hair. I see you have three on your wrist.”

Carrera replied: “You can. No problem.”

By the time Ventimiglia returned the hair tie, the all-county selection had scored five goals, leading the Red Raiders (4-9, 4-8) to a 17-9 win in the Suffolk County Division I encounter.

Carrera made another impression on Ventimiglia and her foes, scoring four goals and winning draws for the Blue Wave (3-10, 2-10), who are competing at the varsity level this season for the first time.

“I thought Riverhead did a phenomenal job,” Patchogue-Medford Coach Ralph Tubello said. “I thought No. 1 from Riverhead did a phenomenal job off the draw control. She kept them in the game.”

When told that No. 1 — Carrera — was a ninth-grader, Tubello replied: “She’s a freshman? She’s an outstanding girl.”

Ventimiglia, who received flowers during Senior Day ceremonies prior to the game, is heading to Jacksonville University on a lacrosse scholarship. She can relate to Carrera because she has played on the varsity since she was an eighth-grader.

“She stood out on the team. She was really aggressive,” Ventimiglia said, adding that if Carrera’s stick skills “progress, she will be a great player. She’ll probably end up playing in college ball.”

Learning the finer points of the high school game is Carrera’s primary objective these days, whether it is from Coach Rich D’Alsace or even rivals.

Carrera, who did her math homework while watching the junior varsity team play after her game, said she was most impressed with Ventimiglia’s “heart and her determination. She never let up, never dropped her head. She just kept going. The team looked to her as a leader.”

Those responsibilities could fall on Carrera’s shoulders someday.

“She’s faced some tough games this year,” D’Alsace said. “At the beginning of the year, her name wasn’t out there yet and teams didn’t get on her right away, which gave her an advantage. Teams picked up on her name. They knew she was going to be on the draws and they doubled and tripled her. So she had some games where it got to her and she had some games she was able to get around it. Today I thought she played pretty well.

“Sometimes she gets a little overworked. Sometimes she makes young mistakes. She’s 14. She’s going to make those mistakes. Sometimes she puts a lot more pressure on herself. She feels like she needs to do too much on her own. She is the girl who is seeing everybody, the girl who is running the show. For the most part she has progressed fantastic.

“Whether it’s a good game or not, she improves every game. She goes home and thinks about it and knows what she did right and what she did wrong. She asks questions.”

While the score did not show it, the Blue Waves’ performance was a marked improvement over earlier results.

“I honestly feel very good about it, very positive,” Carrera said. “We played so much better as a team these past few games. We have been really stepping it up, playing hard. There are a few simple things we’ve got to fix, but we played very well. I don’t think the score really reflects how much improvement we’ve had.”

D’Alsace said his team has grown by leaps and bounds.

“We’re just not finishing right now,” he said. “We’re getting good double teams on defense, but then we’re not finishing by the girls sliding to cover an open. We’re getting double-teamed on attack and we’re getting our girls open, but she’s not going to goal aggressively. I told them at halftime, ‘You’re right there.’ It’s the little things, just the finishing that’s killing us. But I’m just ecstatic that we’re still moving up.”

04/13/11 2:19am
04/13/2011 2:19 AM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Coach Vic Guadagnino declined to speak to the media following his team's loss to Patchogue-Medford.

MEDFORD — During a 34-second span late in the fourth quarter, the Riverhead High School boys lacrosse team looked invincible. The Blue Waves could do very little wrong as they scored three unanswered goals.

The problem was that for just about the remaining 47 minutes of the Suffolk County Division I encounter, the Blue Waves looked rather less than ordinary, dropping a 9-6 loss to the Patchogue-Medford Raiders on a cold and rainy Tuesday afternoon.

The final score flattered the Blue Waves (1-6, 1-5), who got off to a decent start. But poor shooting, the inability to take advantage of extra-man situations and some sloppy play doomed their chances of walking off the field with a victory.

Riverhead Coach Vic Guadagnino chewed out his team after the game. He would not talk to the media.

“Not now,” he said. “Not after a loss.”

One certainly could not blame him after his team’s performance.

The Blue Waves failed to score in the second and third quarters and went 26 minutes 7 seconds without a goal, from the first of Charles Bartlett’s two goals with 1:58 left in the first period to the first of Mario Carrera’s two goals nine seconds into the fourth quarter. By then, the Raiders (2-4, 1-3) had turned a 3-2 edge into a healthy 9-3 advantage.

Raiders Coach Steve Mollot did talk. He realized his team was far from perfect, but he would take the victory, nonetheless.

“It was a win,” he said.

“It was huge,” added senior attackman Kyle Stockton, who scored twice along with Chris Reece and Scott Reece to pace the Raiders. “Actually. we’re coming off an 0-3 start. To win this game and get into the playoffs is really a key. We need to step up our game and start playing sharp as a team. It was a good victory.”

The Blue Waves found themselves with at least one extra man 11 times, but could not find the back of the net. In fact, the Blue Waves twice had a two-man advantage, but could not convert.

“They’re very well-coached,” Mollot said. “They understand the concepts of what we’re trying to accomplish a man down. Our goalie [Matt Warnken], he’s solid. He made some nice saves for us. We’re O.K. man down. We can move the ball. The stick work is not bad. We’re just not game savvy.”
Stockton agreed.

“That’s our defense right there,” he said. “They’re just hard working. They come out there and practice every day and they go hard. They make me a better player.”

Riverhead goalie Cody Haas certainly was up to the task, making 14 saves, including an impressive stop of Scott Reece, who was denied in his attempt to convert a two-on-one break with six seconds remaining in the first half.

At the time, the Raiders enjoyed a 5-2 lead. But the big save did not spur the visitors on in the third quarter. Patchogue-Medford outscored them, 4-0, during that 12-minute quarter.

“Coming out in the second half and scoring two quick goals on them, I think that was the turning point,” said Stockton.

The Blue Waves made things interesting at the end. Trailing by 9-3 with the minutes ticking away, they made a valiant comeback attempt with backup Nick Mallard in the net for Warnken.

First, Michael Curaba struck with 2:51 left. Then Bartlett tallied 22 seconds later before Carrera connected to make it 9-6 with 2:17 remaining.

Mallard was replaced by Warnken, who re-entered the game and finished with 20 saves.

“We had plenty of opportunities to score goals,” Mollot said. “We couldn’t capitalize on some of the opportunities and we let them back in at the end. We tried to substitute and put some of our backups in. That’s why they are backups.”

Patchogue-Medford managed to get out of the rest of the game in one piece.

“It feels good,” Stockton said. “We need to start playing as a team. We had a couple of close ones against East Islip and Bay Shore that we should have played more like a team. But it’s all right.”