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Hard Work Pays Off: Volleyball Makes Playoffs; Other Teams Finish Strong

Posted on 24 October 2008

By Benito Vila

 “Hard work.” The phrase breaks every sideline huddle for Pierson boys’ soccer.

It’s what coaches everywhere want to see consistently from their players and teams. It’s a willingness to consistently do what it takes to win and a commitment not to accept anything else from themselves and each other.

That determined approach is paying off for all the Whaler teams as fall sports wind down. The past week saw girls’ volleyball clinch their first-ever playoff berth with a win in Greenport Wednesday while boys’ soccer and golf enjoyed their first extended win-streaks.

The cross-country teams took to the road this past weekend running at the Brown University Invitational. The elite competition there brought out a slew of personal bests and provided a last “all-out” run before next week’s county class championships.


What’s Ahead

The coming week will see the volleyball team close out regular-season play with matches at Shelter Island today and Center Moriches Tuesday. Those two teams are atop League VIII and should provide the Lady Whalers tournament-like intensity.

Emotion and effort are sure to be evident in Mashashimuet Park today as girls’ soccer hosts Southold/Greenport at 4 p.m. in a match with playoff implications.

Pierson golf’s final outing will have less on the line but may be just as pressure-packed. The team hosts the 23rd annual Pumpkin Classic today at the Bridge, varsity and JV players each inviting an adult family member or a golfing aficionado for a friendly challenge match.

Those contests finish off Pierson’s fall athletic schedule. The county’s high school athletic directors will be finalizing post-season play over the next few days. Pierson field hockey and volleyball are sure to play on with both cross-country squads likely to have representation at the state meet.


First-Ever Berth

Girls’ volleyball co-captain Devon Larsen scored on 11 consecutive serves in the deciding game of last Wednesday’s match in Greenport to give the varsity its first-ever tournament berth. The 25-7 game-four final was the team’s most one-sided win of the season and set off a celebration five years in the making.

The Lady Whalers took game one, 25-14, dropped the second, 18-25, rallied back in game three, 25-17, and then dominated the fourth. Samara Finkenauer had six kills and two blocks and Tanasha Clark added six kills, four blocks and one assist. The match also saw both teams wearing pink as part of Dig Pink, a national volleyball-based breast cancer awareness program and fundraiser.

On Tuesday in the seniors’ final home match, the team improved its record to 8-4 in league play and 9-4 overall by sweeping Stony Brook 28-26, 25-20 and 25-12. Coach Stacey Springer said the close outcome in the first game was due to the team being “too pumped up at first. But they came back and held their own.” Brianna Hand had two aces, one dig and 27 assists, while Xylia Serafy added six digs in nailing down the win.

When asked about preparing for the Class D championship at Shelter Island on Halloween, Coach Springer said, “We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, and take it one game at a time. We’ll keep improving with drills at the net, getting after line and angle shots and working on our blocking. We’ll keep having team competitions in practice; I want their intensity to be there.”


Fast Times

Sustaining intensity and fitness is also a year-end theme for cross-country coaches Joe Amato and Jim Kinnier. Both saw their teams individually and collectively run season-best 5Ks in Rhode Island Saturday and then run well in the county-wide divisional meet in Sunken Meadow Tuesday.

Coach Amato described the challenges of running two such races in a period of four days and plans to “taper” the boys’ workouts. “This [between now and the county championships next Friday] is a rebuilding period. We’ll cut back on mileage and get re-energized.” Coach Kinnier will employ a similar strategy to “let the girls regenerate and rest. That way we’ll be in the best physical and mental shape of the season next Friday.”

At the Brown University Invitational, Keriann FitzPatrick came in 28 out of 208 female runners at 20 minutes and 15 seconds. Amelia Skerys was the team’s second finisher at 21:20, followed by Rafaela Gurtler at 21:32. Those three, along with teammates Brianna Kinnier, 23:51, Aura Skerys, 23:53 and Olivia Kaminski, all set personal bests Saturday.

Tuesday saw all the girls turn in respectable times at Sunken Meadow where the county championship and state meets will be held. Coach Kinnier said he’s “happy where the girls are right now” and predicted, “It’s going to be close between us and Stony Brook for the Class D title.”

According to Coach Amato, “The kids had a great trip [to Rhode Island] which included a tour of the Brown campus on Friday. The start [Saturday] had between 200-300 runners and it was a little tough to get position, which is a good learning experience. Kai Leo ran an 18:20, Kyle Fletcher a 19:36 and Brendan Sheil a 20:38; each was a personal record.” He described Tuesday as an “OK day for his team”, adding, “We familiarized ourselves with the course which is a hard one and there were no setbacks. Our big prize is on the 31st and having one or more [runners] qualify for states.”


Depth Makes for Wins

 “The story of our week is three [wins] in a row,” announced coach Sean Crowley on Friday. A 9-0 sweep of Ross Thursday followed a 7-2 non-league win over Shelter Island last Wednesday and an 8-1 victory over Center Moriches last Tuesday.

 In the Ross match at the Noyac Golf Club, senior captain Ryan Miller recorded a team-low 43. Jake Weingartner, Dillon Decker, Gabe Denon, Dane Riva and Christian Deger also posted wins. Coach Crowley said, “the win shows our depth, with all eight [golfers] playing in the 40s.”


The Shelter Island win saw Weingartner, Miller, Denon and Deger make the most of the matches on the Gardiners Bay Golf Club course. Denon, at 45, and Deger, at 47, came in with the team’s lowest rounds.

 The Whaler run ended Tuesday in Southampton with an 8-1 loss to the league leaders. Harrison Bayrami, playing in the fifth position, shot a 49 and recorded the lone Pierson point. Decker, 44, Denon, 45, and Weingartner, 45, kept their matches close. The boys finished their season 3-6 in league play and 4-6 overall.


More Confidence

Boys’ varsity soccer tallied two wins this week, running their record to 5-8 in league play going into yesterday’s finale with Stony Brook in the park. Last Thursday the Whalers mauled Mercy 5-1, breaking open a 1-1 halftime with four second-half goals. Monday the boys raced past Ross, 5-0, keeper Mark Mahoney posting his first shutout of the season.

In describing his team’s successes, coach Donnelly McGovern said, “Playing the way we have of late, the boys had a great deal more confidence going into those games. We went down 0-1 against Mercy, but a nice individual effort by Noah Feinberg allowed us to equalize then we took control of the match. We created opportunities by winning the fifty-fifty balls in the middle and attacking with speed. That mentality continued against Ross. We will definitely need to step it up even more to be successful against Stony Brook.”

Also scoring against Mercy were Andrew Mitchell, Eric Cortes, Casey Crowley and Christian Gonzalez, with Tyler Gilbride contributing an assist. Crowley scored a pair against Ross, with Kyle McGowin, Jairo Lopez and Gabe Garro each netting 



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