By Gavin Menu
Players from the Pierson-Bridgehampton field hockey team were “jumping for joy” last Friday morning, according to head coach Shannon Judge, after being told they had lived to fight another day and would face Southampton in the Suffolk County Class C Championship game on Tuesday, November 6 at Ward Melville High School at 7 p.m.
There was a very real possibility early last week that the Lady Whalers would be out of the postseason altogether and that Southampton, which finished Division III play with a 7-7 record, would automatically be given the Class C crown. In order to automatically qualify for the playoffs, each team must finish in the top six of the power-point standings, but following two straight losses to top ranked teams, the Lady Whalers fell to seventh place with 109.990 points, even with a respectable 8-5 record in division play.
Judge decided to send a petition to Section XI, which governs athletics in Suffolk County, and the request was approved on the morning of October 26, two days after the regular season had ended. Judge said the decision came quickly and seemed “very easy” for the selection committee based on the Lady Whalers’ accomplishments during the regular season.
“You have to prove you’re a top level Class C school, and we did that this year,” Judge said. “I think we deserved it.”
The selection committee took into account that the Lady Whalers finished 4-1 against fellow Class C schools and split their regular-season series with Southampton. Pierson also scored wins this season over playoff-bound Riverhead and Rocky Point, which helped their case before Section XI.
The first meeting between Pierson and Southampton on September 19 went to overtime, where Lady Whalers junior phenom Kasey Gilbride scored on a miraculous goal from the far sideline. A few weeks later on October 11, Southampton dominated on its home turf and won easily, 2-0.