By Benito Vila
Â There was a time when middle school fall sports were the place many student athletes took the field for the first time. Over the past few years, youth programs in soccer, field hockey and running have provided those interested with an early exposure and a sense of what’s expected.
That bit of experience allowed this year’s Pierson coaches to utilize drills refining teamwork and field skills rather than those emphasizing game learning. It also gave the teams a confidence and a willingness to work that seemed to surprise Pierson opponents, the three field teams posting a collective 17-8-2 mark.
Seven Games Better
Boys’ soccer coach Gary Easlick saw the season start with a disappointing and one-sided 5-3 loss at Montauk. Six games later the season closed with convincing 4-1 win at home over the same Montauk team.
According to Coach Easlick, the difference between the two outcomes was “a massive improvement in all areas of the field. We showed determination and solidarity; most impressive was our defensive unit as a whole and our ability to pass the ball around the midfield, while moving forward, eventually creating scoring opportunities for our attack. It was a very pleasing to watch as a coach and spectator.”
The team finished with a 3-4 mark, a record that Coach Easlick felt did not adequately signal the maturity he saw develop. Citing a few key leaders, Coach Easlick said, “Gavin O’Brien really stepped up for the defense, helping several teammates adjust to the mentality of the position. Forrest Loesch, a seventh grader and one of the team’s three captains, took control of the midfield, battled for the ball against any opponent and was a big part of our scoring unit, especially in dead ball situations. He also worked very well and in-sync with fellow seventh-grade captain Ian Barrett, proving a well organized and effective partnership in the center of the field.”
Coach Easlick praised the play of eighth graders Christian Bautista (the third captain) and Joe Faraguna. He said their “versatility proved extremely valuable, protecting our goal in defense and pushing forward contributing to our attack. [Their classmate] Liam Doyle became a strong and reliable strike force, proving not only dangerous in front of goal but also establishing an intelligent relationship with the midfield, resulting in the majority of our goals.”
Also contributing to the team’s success was the play of goalie Caleb Atkinson-Barnes and the defensive effort of Pierson’s Garrett Potter, Christian Novak, Patrick Ficorilli, Charles Pierre-Firquet and Nicholas Kruel. Bridgehampton’s Nicholas Stevens, Samuel Vallejo, Jerome Walker, Bryan Minehala, Anajae Lamb and Christian Figueroa also filled key defensive roles.
Midfielders Marcos Perez, Kyle Sturmann, Jimmy Haynal, Addison Cook, Christian Bautista Alex Gurvich and Henry Kotz learned to how to better control the flow of the game. Working hard up front were Oliver Betts, Tim Megna, Brian Pina and Micah Hemby.
Cooperation, A Key
Asked to describe the key contributors on his team this fall, girls’ soccer coach Peter Solow said, “I don’t want to single out any individual players. Instead, I would say we had a very successful season. We had 26 seventh and eighth grade girls participating, a much larger number than last year. All the girls showed tremendous improvement during the course of the season in skills and fitness and in an understanding of team play.”
The young Lady Whalers finished the season with a record of 6-3-1, playing a schedule that had them match up against East Hampton, Springs, Southampton, Hampton Bays and Ross.
In considering highlights to the girls’ season, Coach Solow cited the finale as well as their ability to work with one another. “Our last game of the season against East Hampton ended in a 0-0 tie after five periods; earlier in the season we lost to them 4-0. But most importantly, the kids on our team, both from Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, were tremendously supportive of each other and without a doubt [this was] the nicest group of kids I’ve ever coached.”
The field hockey team went into its last match looking to complete an undefeated campaign. Facing a solid Southampton squad it had beaten 1-0 earlier on the road, the girls were hoping to have an advantage at home. But that was not to be, the Lady Mariners getting away with a 1-0 win to leave the team’s mark at 8-1-1.
These Lady Whalers had two coaches, former Pierson stand out Kate Berkoski (nÃ©e Lowe) and Yanina Cuesta. Both praised the team and its development and knew they had a lot to work with from the beginning.
Coach Berkoski admitted, “This was by far the strongest team I have coached compared to past teams. I think this is due to the many intramurals and clinics set up by varsity coach Shannon Judge. She has done a great job introducing field hockey to the girls before they step out on the field in seventh grade. In previous years, it used to take me weeks to explain drills, warm-ups and techniques for playing the game.”
Coach Cuesta had the same experience, adding, “The girls did a great job and built a great camaraderie that I haven’t seen in past teams. We had a young group with only six eighth graders who played last year. It was phenomenal to see these athletes develop into stronger, smarter players.”
Hope Denon led the team in scoring with five goals. Sophie Gianis had four, Emma Romeo and Rachel Saidman two apiece, and Gabby Gardiner, Emme Luck and India Hemby one each.
Holding down the mid-field were Katherine Matthers, Kristian Washburn, Saidman, Gardiner and Hemby. Sweeper Nell Dobbs and center back Tatyana Dawson led the defense, while backs Karina Bravo, Alyssa Clermont, Jenna Hochstedler, Kim Carlozzi and Kirra McGowin kept the opposition from getting too close. The trio of Kaylee Denny, Holly Zappola and Rose Bishop capably shared time in goal.
Cross-country coach Christine Farrell was also happy with the students she had to work with and their ability to work as a team.
Â “Last year there were only two female runners on the team and this year we went up to six new runners, all female. Most disliked running so it was a matter of showing them that they could have fun [doing it].”
Using a workout program built on interval training at variable speeds over variable distances, Coach Farrell saw her runners improve their times and build their endurance. That work built confidence all around as did meets with Southampton, East Hampton, East Moriches, Montauk and Westhampton.
Coach Farrell called the Middle School Invitational in Sunken Meadow the highlight of the season, as the team matched up with their peers across Suffolk County. 225 runners turned out for the October 16 race over a 1.5-mile course, the team’s longest race of the season. “This was a chance for them to run a real cross-country-like course. It wasn’t like the flatter one-mile road-surface races at East Hampton High School and Indian Island. They had to work harder than they had and most of them came way happy with what they were able to do.”.Â
Seventh grader Mahalia Nathaniel set the pace for the team and may move up to the varsity level as soon as next year. Coach Farrell praised the effort, sportsmanship and dedication shown by eighth grader Hannah Kaminski and saw seventh graders Naomi Pawlik, Madeleine Haring, Lexi Fedi and eighth grader Francis Padilla finish the season with personal bests.