By Benito Vila
Wins. It’s what most fans want out of sports. It’s how they measure success, even though that outcome often says more about the competition than it does about the team.
To those who coach and play, sports are about confidence, competition and teamwork, working intently to make the most of moments that are quickly gone. It’s a process of review, learning, improving and preparing anew, all undeniably more satisfying when the team comes out ahead.
Coming out ahead was an experience players on all seven Pierson varsity squads enjoyed this week. Boys’ soccer rolled up two wins, outscoring Ross 2-1 Friday and Smithtown Christian 7-1 Tuesday; girls’ soccer rebounded from a 4-0 loss to undefeated league-leader Center Moriches Friday to rally past Mercy 3-1 Monday; boys’ cross-country came in ahead of Hampton Bays 19-38 Tuesday to post their first win, while the girls’ team improved to 3-2 outpacing Port Jefferson 18-37 Thursday and Shelter Island 15-40 Tuesday; boys’ golf notched four individual wins this week, total strokes keeping the team from the top spot Tuesday in Westhampton.
With just two weeks left in the fall schedule, two girls’ teams are closest to clinching post-season play. Volleyball finished off Ross 3-1 Friday to improve to 5-3 in league play and 6-3 overall, moving into fourth place in the standings. With an 8-2 mark, field hockey is also fourth in its divisional rankings, a 1-0 win at Comsewogue Friday and a shoot-out loss to higher-ranked Miller Place Tuesday helping hold their position.
The Week Ahead
The Whaler varsities are playing away for the most part this week. Girls’ soccer is at Stony Brook tomorrow and Port Jefferson Wednesday; field hockey is at Southampton tomorrow at 4 p.m. and at Greenport/Southold Tuesday. Friday’s schedule also finds boys’ soccer in Greenport and girls’ volleyball in at Port Jefferson.
It will be much easier to see the teams play next week with volleyball hosting Mercy Monday at 2 p.m. and soccer home Tuesday against Port Jefferson at 4:30 p.m. Next Thursday field hockey has its last home game, William Floyd coming in for a 4 p.m. start; boys’ soccer will also be in the park, meeting Mercy at 4:30 p.m. Golf tees off in Noyac at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday with Center Moriches and again on Thursday with Ross to close out their home schedule.
A Fearsome Foursome
Varsity golf coach Sean Crowley has been adjusting his one-to-four line-up from match to match. Dillon Decker, Gabe Denon, Ryan Miller and Jake Weingartner have played on par with one another and Coach Crowley describes them as “very close in stroke average. The lineup can change from day to day. It just depends on who’s hot.”
On Thursday in Noyac, Weingartner came away with the team’s only win against East Hampton, shooting a 46 from the number four spot. In Westhampton Tuesday, Miller at 46 and Denon at 48 took their matches, as did Weingartner with a team-low 45.
Boys’ cross country coach Joe Amato saw his team take five of the first six finishing position in posting their win Tuesady. Kai Leo led all runners at 20 minutes, one second, with Kyle Fletcher, 20:29 and Brendan Sheil, 21:17, second and third respectively. Peter Skerys, 21:43, and Paul Dorego, 21:53, took fifth and sixth.
Coach Amato described the day as “a breakthrough race. We’re coming into stride and our hard work at the beginning is starting to pay off.” Next up for the boys are the Westhampton Invitational on Friday, a meet with Center Moriches at Sunken Meadow on Tuesday and a regional invitational at Brown University next weekend. That will prepare the team for the divisional and sectional meets at the end of the month that determines which teams and runners head to the state finals.
The girls’ team has a trio of runners–Keriann FitzPatrick, Amelia Skerys and Rafaela Gurtler–routinely finishing in front of the pack. In the win over Shelter Island, each ran their best times, Fitzpatrick, first overall at 21:49, with Skerys in at 23:02 and Gurtler at 23:03. Brianna Kinnier, 25:22, and Aura Skerys, 25:40, also had personal bests Tuesday. In last Thursday’s win over Port Jefferson, FitzPatrick led all finishers, 21:57, and Amelia Skerys, 22:41, was third.
Hard Work Pays Off
With a 3-1 loss at Stony Brook last Thursday dropping the boys’ soccer record to 1-6, it would have been easy for the squad to lose the intensity and drive that has kept them in every game. Fortunately the players and their faithful fans saw a quick turnaround, the wins Friday and Tuesday pushing them back into the playoff hunt. The Whalers have five games left, only let downs and two more losses can keep them from a berth.
Coach Donnelly McGovern is still fine-tuning his lineups and combinations. He wants to see midfield play that “battles across the whole field. We keep getting caught even with our forwards. That keeps us from getting back quickly enough to defend.” Coach McGovern is also dedicating more practice time to “finishing. We create chances every game. We have to get the ball in the net more.”
That emphasis paid off Tuesday with six players scoring in avenging an early season loss. Casey Crowley knocked in two and delivered four assists while Noah Feinberg, Andrew Mitchell, Jeffrey Schimmer, Christian Gonzalez and Kyle McGowin each netted one.
In describing the win, Coach McGovern said, “We dictated the play. Defensively we played as a unit and closed their options down. Andrew played a tough match winning the battle of the middle in the air. We countered quickly on them. Casey played with urgency and created numerous opportunities that we finished.”
Comeback Lifts Ladies
Down 1-0 to Mercy Monday, the girls’ soccer team scored three times to come home with the win and renewed confidence. Coach Haley Luzim said, “We came out strong and then just put them away. It was big [after a loss to Center Moriches] and it sets us up well for Stony Brook. We’re there under the lights Friday for their homecoming and we have to do the same thing to quiet their crowd.”
In looking back at the week, Coach Luzim praised the improving play of her defensive backfield, Kaci Koehne and Diana Roderiguez at fullback and Alexia Farraguna at stopper. She continues to see solid play from Annie Osiecki in goal, Kara Gengerally at sweeper, Katie Osiecki in the midfield, and Amanda Busiello and Natalie Abbene in front. Abbene, Kathryn Heine and Olivia Broich had Monday’s goals with Osiecki keeping 14 shots out of the net.
Three years ago varsity wins were few and far between for volleyball coach Stacey Springer. She came into this year though with “high hopes. Sixteen girls went to camp this summer and I felt pretty good coming in.”
That off-season work has paid off, with a winning record and a chance at making post-season play for the first time. Coach Springer says, “Each day this season I’ve seen them get a little bit better. Now, other coaches are complimenting me on how well they communicate; they’ve done that themselves. We’re almost there in terms of offense and defense and this year [in our league] anybody can do it.”
The win over Ross Friday saw Tanasha Clark come up with eight kills, a block and a dig to keep the team on track. Danielle Schiavoni added eight kills and two aces. The leadership of Brianna Hand and the passing of Devon Larsen and Katelyn Grodski helped the Lady Whalers take the last two games after the Lady Ravens had tied the match at one game apiece.
The field hockey Lady Whalers have been the darlings of the fall sports scene thus far, posting an impressive 3.2 goal per game average while allowing a miniscule .5 points per game. Coach Shannon Judge does not see her team resting on its laurels, saying “Things can change so quickly in our division. Everything is based on power rankings [not wins and losses]. You lose to a lesser-ranked team and you can find yourself out of the playoffs.”
Friday’s 1-0 win at eighth-ranked Comsewogue saw Alexa Lantiere score late in the first half and goalkeeper Christy Deery go on to record her seventh shutout. Pierson controlled play for most of the game, earning 14 corners while surrendering just four.
Playoff intensity was evident Tuesday at Miller Place as the team sought to avenge its only loss, a 2-0 heartbreaker at home. The Lady Panthers took an early 1-0 lead, but Samantha Federico rocketed in a crossing pass from Nicole Dorego to even the score with nine minutes left in the first half. From there on the game remained scoreless, through the second half and into overtime.
In that 49 minutes of high-pressure field hockey, Miller Place earned 21 corners and took 10 shots while Pierson drew 11 corners and managed four shots. Deery’s play in the overtime kept a sustained attack by the Lady Panthers from getting the ball in goal, forcing the result to be decided by penalty strokes.
With each team getting a five-shot sequence on the strokes, Pierson shot first and scored twice. Deery blocked two of the first four shots but the fifth one found the back of the box to give Miller Place the win. Coach Judge came away anything but disappointed, saying, “It was good to see us play with a higher caliber of intensity. We did what we had to do. We played aggressive. Aly Bori kept us together in the middle both ways and Megan Pintauro kept Christy from having to do more. We have to keep doing what we’re doing. We have to keep scoring. That’ll keep us where we want to be.”