Field Hockey: Clippers drop tough one in penalty strokes against Riverhead
The Riverhead Blue Waves have no set order when it comes to penalty strokes. From one game to the next, it could vary on who shoots where in each of the five spots once overtime ends scoreless.
On Tuesday afternoon at Greenport High School, it was junior Christy Brewer who lined up in the fifth and final position for Riverhead. When her turn came around, both the Blue Waves and Clippers had both connected on two strokes, setting the stage for Brewer.
“Usually I go to the bottom-left corner,” Brewer said. “You just try not to let the goalie focus on where you want to go.”
She stuck to her usual game plan, drilling the ball inside the left post for what turned out to be the winning stroke to lift the Blue Waves to victory. Regulation ended 0-0 and the Blue Waves won 3-2 on strokes.
Still, Brewer couldn’t celebrate too quickly after sinking her shot. The Clippers still had one last chance, but the final attempt to tie the game and bring out more shooters came up short for Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island. Riverhead goalkeeper Allison Doscinski easily made the final save as the ball slowly rolled in right at her and the celebration ensued for the Blue Waves, who won their second game in Division III.
“Allie’s been a goalie since middle school and we have faith in her, so I was pretty sure she’d get it,” Brewer said.
It was a tough blow for the Clippers, who outplayed Riverhead (2-1 Division III, 2-2 overall) for most of the first half, but could never convert on their early opportunities. The Clippers (3-3 Division III, 4-3) had one goal in the first half waved off because the referee blew the whistle for a penalty corner just before the shot.
“We had plenty of chances in the circle,” said Greenport coach Todd Gulluscio. “We had our chances. We just got to capitailze on them.”
Doscinski finished with 13 saves and was under heavy pressure throughout the game. Greenport goalkeeper Brandi Gonzalez finished with one save.
Gonzalez, a sophomore, has been filling in for the injured Alexis Reed, who has been sidelined with a leg injury. Reed is a two-time all-Division player who was rated as the top goalie in the division last year.
For Gonzalez, it was her first action in penalty strokes as a varsity player.
Before the strokes began, Reed and the team’s junior varsity coach both offered some advice to Gonzalez.
“She tried her best and that’s all we ask,” Gulluscio said.
Brittney Baron shot first for Riverhead and ripped a shot inside the left post to give the Blue Waves the early advantage.
Greenport’s first shooter, Sarah Tuthill, had two chances on her attempt. Her first shot went wide left, but the referee’s ruled that Riverhead’s goalie moved before the shot. After some debate, in which they checked the rule book, they confirmed that results in a second attempt. Tuthill’s second shot was saved by Doscinski.
It remained tied at 1 until Emily King snuck the ball inside the right post for Greenport on the Clippers’ third attempt. Riverhead answered right back when Jocelyn Zaneski scored on the Blue Waves’ fourth shot. Lauren Ficurilli tied it on the next shot for Greenport, leading up to Brewer’s shot.
“Greenport’s been a hard team to beat through the season,” Brewer said. “I’m going to go out there and do what I can and try my best.”
The Clippers opened the game controlling play and kept the ball deep in Riverhead’s end. The Clippers had the first five penalty corners before Riverhead got one with about eight minutes left in the half. Both teams finished with 10 corners. Seven came in the second half for Riverhead.
“The longer you go without getting [a goal], the harder it is to do,” Gulluscio said.
Both teams had their chances as the game wound down and into the 10-minute sudden death overtime. One of the best chances for Greenport came on a shot by Breanna Mallman that was saved with about three minutes left in regulation. The Blue Waves had a flurry in front of the cage with 1:30 left but couldn’t convert.
The Blue Waves earned a penalty corner with 30 seconds left. Play cannot end until a corner is played out, so the clock didn’t matter. Brewer, who started each corner for Riverhead, passed to Sydney Kito on the right. She passed toward the middle where Amanda Graziano took a shot that went wide.
Greenport gets a break in the schedule now after playing back-to-back games. The Clippers, who lost 2-1 against Rocky Point Monday, return to the field Monday at Hampton Bays. Riverhead, meanwhile, gets right back at it with a game Wednesday at Comsewogue.