By Gavin Menu
Kasey Gilbride is a patient player, but only to a point.
The senior field hockey star from Pierson was held in check for the first 30 minutes of the Suffolk County Class C final against Southampton at Dowling College on Thursday night. Once play resumed after a scoreless first half, however, the Lady Whalers and their senior star clicked into overdrive.
Gilbride flexed her considerable muscle—not to mention her stick skills and uncanny scoring touch—with two second-half goals that led Pierson-Bridgehampton to a 3-0 victory over the defending champion Lady Mariners.
It was Southampton a year ago that hoisted the championship plaque after defeating Pierson, 2-0, a memory that was fresh in the minds of the Pierson players on Thursday.
“A little vindication,” Gilbride said, smiling, after a wild celebration with her teammates at center field.
It was another Pierson senior, Emme Luck, who ended the game’s scoreless drought by knocking a rebound past Southampton goalie Alex Ambrose with less than four minutes gone in the second half. Luck’s goal opened the floodgates for the Lady Whalers, who seem to have peaked a just the right time and now own a seven game winning streak after beating Miller Place, 1-0, in overtime on Saturday in the Suffolk Small Schools final.
Pierson’s next elimination game will be back at Dowling on Wednesday, November 6 at 3 p.m. against Nassau champ Carle Place with the Long Island Championship on the line. The winner of that game will play a Southeast Regional final on November 9 at 1 p.m. at White Plains High School with a trip to the state final four up for grabs.
It was clear after Luck’s goal on Thursday that Pierson had taken control of the game. Following three straight corners, Gilbride scored off an assist from Katherine Matthers with 21:56 remaining. And Pierson’s defense, which was led by Kirra McGowin and Rachael Miller in the back and Cali Cafiero and Erica Selyukova in the midfield, completely shut down the Southampton attack.
Gilbride scored her second goal of the game late to ice the championship and send the Lady Whalers packing for what could be additional glory.
“We upped our intensity, we wanted it 10 times more in the second half,” Matthers said.
“It became more real in the second half,” Gilbride added. “We had to get down to business and do what we do best.”
When asked to describe the key to their team’s solid play during the recent win streak, the team’s senior captains spoke just one word and whispered it simultaneously.