By Andrew Rudansky
The Lady Whalers varsity field hockey team is officially back in the post-season after finishing a stellar (9-5) season. The Pierson/Bridgehampton team had their final game yesterday, October 26, a decisive 4-0 victory over the Riverhead Blue Waves (5-9).
The win was especially sweet for seniors keeper Catherine Musnicki, forward Sariah Cafiero, defender Melanie Stafford, midfielder Lilah Yardley and forward Christina Napolillo. The victory was to be their last game playing on their home field at Mashashimuet Park.
Pictures of these seniors lined the path leading to the field hockey pitch, and head coach Shannon Judge gave each of the seniors a rose in honor of their last regular season game.
“Yes, we are going to miss a lot of them,” said Judge about the seniors after the game.
Earlier in the week, Judge called the Riverhead game the team’s most important game of the season, explaining the consequences of a loss could be dire for Pierson’s post-season hopes.
Fortunately Pierson was on fire all 60 minutes of the match. The first goal was scored by sophomore midfielder Emme Luck, with an assist by Cafiero. This was followed by a second goal by junior Bailey Brigs, assisted by Yardley, with only two minutes left in first half.
The rest of the game followed suit. Sophomore Kasey Gilbride scoring two minutes into the second half, off of a sophomore Katherine Matthers assist.
Cafiero scored the team’s fourth and final goal with seven minutes left to play in regulation, a long powerful shot from the right of the goalie box.
The Blue Waves on the other hand had few chances to score thanks to Pierson’s strong defensive unit, including Stafford, and sophomores Emma Romeo and Kirra McGowin.
Riverhead only recorded two shots on goal for the entire match.
Pierson was put into a tight situation shortly after their third goal when Gilbride received a yellow card, giving Riverhead a five minute power play. However it did not result in a goal.
The 4-0 victory, the Lady Whalers sixth shutout of the season, certainly gives them confidence going into the post season; especially after the two hard losses last week against second place Rocky Point (10-3) and first place Shoreham-Wading River (12-1).
Neither of these losses affected the post-season chances of the Lady Whalers because of the emphasis on “quality” wins and losses in Section XI Varsity field hockey.
Pierson had five shots on goal in the 1-0 loss to Shoreham-Wading River this Friday, October 21, but couldn’t find the net. Senior keeper Catherine Musnicki had nine saves in the game.
It was the same story in the game at Rocky Point, when none of the eight Pierson shots on goals went in. The final 1-0 score was controversial, because many of the Lady Whalers had stopped playing and were asking for an injury time-out when the Rocky Point goal was scored. Once again Musnicki tallied nine saves in game.
Musnicki has been a juggernaut in the net all season long, allowing only three goals in the last seven games in October.
She was credited with just one save in yesterday’s shut-out over Riverhead.
The team next takes on Division II Babylon in the Suffolk County Class C championship game at the Ward Mellville High School on Tuesday, November 8 at 7 p.m. The Babylon Panthers finished in fourth place in Division II with an overall record of (9-5).
If the Lady Whalers were to beat the Panthers in the Class C championship they would move on to the B/C small schools championship game at Newfield High School on Thursday, November 10 at 7 p.m. From there it would be on to the Long Island Championships and finally States later in the month.
The Lady Whalers are very familiar with this post-season road, just last year going all the way to the state finals.
Judge said she doesn’t like to make predictions for her team in the post-season, however from the way the team dismantled their last regular season opponent, they look ready to go all the way this year.