“We were Riverheaded,” said head coach Victor Guadagnino following the Blue Waves 7-5 Division I loss at Sachem East Wednesday afternoon.
“We just got outworked,” said Guadagnino. “That’s what we do, we usually outwork everybody and today we didn’t.”
The Blue Waves (5-2 Division I, 7-2 overall) got on the board first, three minutes into the game after Ryan Hubbard shredded through the Sachem East defense himself, leaping into the crease, firing the ball past the goalie on the right side.
But Sachem East (3-5, 3-6) quickly answered to the tune of two consecutive goals by Jason DeBenedictis just two minutes later.
Opportunities presented themselves as a result of the offensive scheme for the Blue Waves but nothing was reaching the back of the net. Ryan Bitzer, Paul Harron and Hubbard all had clean shots that were set aside by the Flaming Arrow’s goaltender, Paul DeGennaro.
“In the scouting report, I told them that this goalie is streaky,” said Guadagnino. “If he makes a few saves in a row he can be very dangerous but if we score a couple in a row we can break him down. In the first three quarters of the game he was hot.”
At halftime, the Blue Waves were down 2-1.
“We held the home team to two goals in the first half and that’s phenomenal,” said Guadagnino. “Our offense wasn’t playing well in the first half. They beat us on ground balls, they beat us at the face-off circle and they beat us in between the lines.”
After the Flaming Arrows extended the lead to 3-1 in the third quarter, Dan Czelatka finally got one to go muscling it through the right side all the way to the goal cutting the lead to 3-2. Two minutes later, on an almost identical move, Czelatka found the net again to tie the game.
Though it seemed all the momentum had shifted to Riverhead, the Flaming Arrows refused to back down as they scored four unanswered goals.
Goals by Czelatka and Hubbard in the fourth quarter made the score 7-5 as Riverhead fell short in the comeback attempt.
Alex Panagakos saved 14 shots in yet another great performance.
“I think we were the more athletic team,” said Guadagnino. “But we just didn’t see it today. At times we did but we just have to beat people on ground balls. Ground balls win games.”
“I think our play was a carry-over from yesterday’s practice, we were just sloppy,” said Guadagnino. “We lacked the emotion we needed to create more offense for ourselves.”
Entering the day, the Blue Waves crept up all the way to the fifth seed in Division I as a result of their great play.
“The fifth seed is gone,” said Guadagnino. “That’s going to be tough to get back with this loss. But our goal this season wasn’t to win the county it was to be as competitive as we could and get as far up (in the division) as we can. To get up to five is phenomenal, and so we’re going to drop a bit and that’s fine, we have plenty of the season left.”
The Blue Waves have now played four straight away games in a string of five scheduled by the league, Guadagnino says.
“Section XI could have thrown us a break and threw a home game in there somewhere,” he said. “But hey, if we go 4-1 in a five game road trip that’s pretty good.”
The good thing is, five out of the eight remaining games will be at home against opponents that could easily propel the Blue Waves back to the top of the division with their hopes of making the playoffs for the first time in history still very much alive.
Riverhead plays Middle Country (2-5, 2-7) Saturday at 7:00 p.m
RiverheadLOCAL photo by Michael Hejmej