by Jacob Sisson
The Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers field hockey team reached heights not seen since 2005 when they beat Friends Academy 2-0 to win the Long Island Class C Championship on Sunday. Leading the way for the Lady Whalers in the tournament final was freshman Katherine Matthers, who scored both of Pierson’s goals to end Friends Academy’s season.
The road to the Long Island Championships stated on Tuesday in Ward Melville, as the Lady Whalers came up against Southampton in the Suffolk County Class C Championship. Pierson/Bridgehampton, the Class C Tournament number one seed, had outscored Southampton, the number two seed, 8-1 in their two prior meetings. In mid-October, the Lady Whalers had dispatched Southampton 4-1 while their first meeting had ended in a 4-0 Pierson win.
Pierson/Bridgehampton got their playoffs off on the wrong foot as Southampton’s Tara Watson managed to slip one past the Lady Whalers goalkeeper, Catherin Musnicki. Musnicki, however, would see very little of the ball as the game progressed and would only have to make five total saves.
Despite hitting the halftime interval down 1-0 to a team they hadn’t lost to in 2010, the Lady Whalers did not panic, and set about righting the ship. An inspired Pierson/Bridgehampton team took the field for the second half, and thoroughly outplayed Southampton. Goals from Sarah Barrett and Alexa Lantiere put Pierson/Bridgehampton up 2-1, a score by which the team would hold on to to win the County Title. Despite the narrow scoreline, the Lady Whalers forced their opposing net minder into 17 saves, showing an offensive dominance that was not readily apparent on the scoreboard.
After their triumph in the Class C County Championship, Pierson/Bridgehampton drew Division Three rivals Shoreham-Wading River in the Suffolk County Small Schools Championship. There was no elimination on the line, as each team could look ahead to their respective Long Island Championships.
The Lady Whalers had dropped two games against Shoreham-Wading River, the champions of Suffolk County’s Class B and the runners up in Division Three’s regular season. The first was a 6-2 loss in late September while the Lady Whalers dropped a 2-0 decision in mid-October.
The hero of the day was goalie Catherin Musnicki, who kept Pierson/Bridgehampton into the game despite being outshot 23-6. In the end, the Lady Whalers dropped another 2-0 game to Shoreham-Wading River thanks to a goal each in the first and second halves.
The Lady Whalers needed to find some momentum against Friends Academy, who finished their season second in Nassau County’s Conference Two with an overall record of 13-4-1. Friends Academy had been Carle Place 2-0 to reach the Long Island Championship.
Pierson/Bridgehampton’s offensive inspiration came from a most unlikely place, as freshman Katherine Matthers, who had never before scored a varsity goal, slotted home two second half goals, off of assists from Lindsay Warne and Alexa Lantiere, to lead the team to a 2-0 victory and their first Long Island Championship since 2005.
The victory was a polar opposite from the offensive showing that the Lady Whalers put in against Southampton, as Friends Academy’s goalie was only forced to make three saves on the five shots Pierson/Bridgehampton put in net. On the other end, Catherin Musnicki shut out Friends Academy by making seven saves. Much of the credit goes to the teams’ defense, and especially that of Pierson/Bridgehampton, who were able to shut down a powerful Friends Academy offensive and give their star goal keeper little to worry about.
Thanks to her impressive two-goal performance, Matthers was named to the Long Island Tournament all-tournament team. Joining her on the prestigious list was Alexa Lantiere, who has spent her season providing key assists and acting as the metronome for her team.
The Lady Whalers now travel to Cicero, New York on Friday for the New York State Class C Semifinal where they face Barker High School from Barker, New York.