By Benito Vila
Field hockey, 14-2; boys’ soccer, 6-11; boys’ golf, 4-7, volleyball 9-7; girls’ cross-country 4-2; a collective 45-39-1 across the seven varsity sports and 86-64-6 overall. Whatever it all adds up to, the numbers don’t tell the story of Pierson sports this fall.
The Lady Whalers set the pace this year, the cross-country team repeating as county champs and field hockey raising the all-time regular-season win mark. The newest high school sports, girls’ soccer and girls’ volleyball, introduced as JV teams just within the last five years, also made their mark in earning first-ever posts-season berths.
That’s not to say the boys were slackers. The cross-country team sent representatives to the state meet for the tenth consecutive year; varsity golf finished off the season with a three-game win-streak behind a hard-working combination of underclassmen; and soccer overcame a heart-wrenching 0-7 start by winning six of its last ten.
The effort on the courts, fields and fairways this fall was certainly noticed by opposing coaches, with 23 Whalers being honored for their play and skill by Suffolk County (Section XI) officials. And although the three Lady Whaler playoff teams saw a quick end to their season in first-round losses, it did little to tarnish brilliant seasons.
When coaches talked about who made a difference, the leadership of seniors Megan Pintauro, Sam Federico, Kai Leo, Ryan Miller, Andrew Mitchell, Devon Larsen, Brianna Hand, Danielle Schiavoni, Katie Osiecki, Rafaela Gurtler and Amelia Skerys were names that came up time and time again. Pintauro pushed the ball upfield in the field hockey attack feeding the right side that set up Federico for a school record 16 goals. Leo led a young cross-country team with consistent effort while Miller kept things loose on the course and allowed his middle school teammates to comfortably settle in.
Meanwhile, Mitchell found himself in varied roles for the soccer Whalers and learned when to hold back in the midfield and when to charge, making a difference in the team’s turnaround. Osiecki did the same for the girls, jumping into goal at times and taking control of the midfield with or without the ball. Larsen, Hand and Schiavoni started with the volleyball program as middle schoolers and were key communicators on the court as the varsity posted its first winning season. And Gurtler and Skerys kept their team together after two slight setbacks that might have unnerved lesser runners
The play of underclassmen Lindsay Warne, Aly Bori, Abby Gawronski, Tyler Gilbride, Jake Federico, Kyle McGowin, Mark Mahoney, Kaci Koehne and Amanda Busiello have their coaches eager to get back to the park. Given the success they had this season, it’s no doubt that Kyle Fletcher, Keriann FitzPatrick, Jake Weingartner, Dillon Decker and Gabe Denon will keep working on their technique this summer long before cross-country and golf start up again.
Better All the Time
When asked what he knew about Pierson sports before he arrived in Sag Harbor, first-year athletic director Bill Madsen said, “I hadn’t heard a whole lot. I knew it was a small school with no football, no wrestling, things you find at the bigger schools. Field hockey had a reputation, but I wasn’t expecting much coming in.”Â
Taking stock of his first athletic season, Madsen was impressed at the effort of the four Lady Whaler teams and that “we were able to compete at such a high level in all four sports.” Noting that, “Wins and losses get distorted when you look for them too much,” Madsen added, “It means more when you see a team getting better every day.” He cited the turnaround made by the Whaler soccer team as being one of the best all-around performances this fall.
Madsen said he has three questions for coaches and players at the end of every season: “First, did you get better; second, did you make someone else better and third, did your team get better. If you can answer all three with a ‘yes’, I’d call that a successful season.”
When asked what he felt needs some attention, Madsen offered, “Our philosophy. I’d like to see everyone, especially our varsity coaches, to think of each sport in terms of a program, as having its own curriculum. I’d like to raise the expectations of students, coaches and parents, so that no one settles for being mediocre, ever.”
Each of the following honorees will receive commemorative plaques for their play this fall and be acknowledged this spring at the Pierson sports award banquet.
All-League: Volleyball: Danielle Schiavoni, Brianna Hand and Devon Larson; Girls’ soccer: Kaci Koehne; Girls’ cross-country: Keriann FitzPatrick, Amelia Skerys and Rafaela Gurtler; Boys’ cross-country: Kai Leo with Kyle Fletcher earning honorable mention; Boys’ soccer: Noah Feinberg; Golf: Dillon Decker and Gabe Denon. Volleyball’s Hand also earned all-tournament honors.
All-Conference: Boys’ soccer: Andrew Mitchell and Jake Federico; Girls’ soccer: Katie Osiecki and Natalie Abbene.
All-Division: Keriann FitzPatrick
All-County Academic: Andrew Mitchell
Seven Lady Whalers from the field hockey program earned all-tournament, all-county, all-conference and all-division honors. Those names will be announced December 3 at the Section XI field hockey awards banquet.