By Gavin Menu
The Pierson-Bridgehampton girls soccer team, which has struggled in recent years, is re-building and got a close-up look this week at what the program’s desired result might look like.
With a budding group of young players, a dedicated senior class and a new head coach in Lisa DiRussa, the Lady Whalers earned their first win of the young season, a 3-0 victory over Smithtown Christian, on September 18. The team visited perennial powerhouse Mattituck on Friday, however, and came away with a 5-0 loss.
DiRussa said the game was an eye-opener for her players, especially the ones who want to make a career out of playing soccer.
“Obviously these are not kids who have just come together in the preseason,” DiRussa said when asked about Mattituck. “These are kids who have made a commitment to focus on soccer and improve their individual skills in the offseason.”
Zoe Diskin, Abi Holder and eighth-grader Isabella DiRussa scored goals for Pierson in the win over Smithtown Christian. Hayley Lund, the team’s junior goalie, made 14 saves on Friday against Mattituck’s fierce offensive attack.
“They were highly skilled and I think it was a little overwhelming at first,” DiRussa said about the Mattituck game. “In practice this week we focused on some of the fundamentals we need to work on so we can be competitive with a team like that.”
Pierson played at Port Jefferson on Tuesday and will play at Southampton in a non-league game today, September 26, under lights at 6:30 p.m. The team’s homecoming game will be this Saturday against Babylon at 2 p.m. at Mashashimuet Park.
DiRussa, who was an assistant coach last year, is working to build a program with 31 players between the varsity and junior varsity levels this fall. The team did not have a JV last year, so just having two teams is an accomplishment in itself, she said.
DiRussa praised her senior class, which includes Katherine Coronado, Paige DePetris, Gabrielle Goggin, Marley Holder, Katy Koehne, Ashley Nill, Diana Rozzi, Eilis Sheil, Sol Varela and Phyilicia Weber, for being the cornerstones to the rebuilding effort.
“We only have 10 girls on our JV team, so each game we’re having a number of kids play with the JV team so that they have enough numbers,” DiRussa said. “We’re focusing on building the program and encouraging the younger students to see this as something they want to get involved in. With my seniors, I’m having some of them play on JV and I appreciate that about them. It speaks highly of who they are, that they’re willing to do that. That’s something that goes beyond soccer.”