By Benito Vila
Â Last weekend’s washout saw the Pierson athletic department scramble to reschedule homecoming festivities and five home games. Elizabeth Marchisella, assistant to athletic director Bill Masden, described last Friday as, “a rotten mess.” Both Marchisella and Masden spent most of the day negotiating with other schools and finding another way to celebrate homecoming.
Their solution is a novel one. The annual bonfire on Long Beach will be this Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m., making the event perhaps more an end-of-summer celebration than the traditional “beat-‘em-up” pep-rally. The Homecoming parade will roll up Main Street to Mashashimuet Park Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and is likely to surprise those few who usually have the town to themselves at that hour. As is the custom, class skits in front of the parade floats will end the festivities in the park.
Despite all the schedule changes, nothing could keep the varsity field hockey team from rolling on this week, the team improving to 8-1 in Divisional play and 10-1 overall. Forward Samanthe Federico recorded five goals in the team’s two games to break the school’s single-season goal mark. Federico now has 16 goals with six games left, easily surpassing the 13 scored by Bethany Semlear last year.
This week’s schedule has the Lady Whalers on the road, at Comsewogue tomorrow and Miller Place on Tuesday. With that team away, soccer will be the main event for those looking to see Pierson play. Boys’ varsity soccer is home behind Pierson tomorrow at 4 p.m., in a rescheduled match with Ross and returns to the park Tuesday to host Smithtown Christian at 4:30 p.m. Girls’ varsity soccer is also home tomorrow, taking the field in the park against Center Moriches at 4:30 p.m.
There are other matches and meets for Pierson teams this week. Boys’ varsity golf hosts East Hampton at the Noyac Golf Club today and girls’ varsity volleyball is home in the gym against Ross tomorrow at 4 p.m. The cross-country teams travel to Sunken Meadow today to meet Port Jefferson and run in Red Creek Park Tuesday with Hampton Bays.
Young Golfers Lead
Despite a team loss to Southampton last Thursday, the play of eighth graders Dillon Decker and Gabe Denon earned praise from varsity golf coach Sean Crowley. Decker, teeing off at number one, came away with his first varsity win, while Denon turned in a team-low round of 43. Coach Crowley, delighted by their performances, called the young pair “pound for pound, the best golfers in the league.”
The 13-year old Decker relishes matching up with much older players, explaining, “They tend to be 17 or 18 and more than six feet tall. I’m only five feet and I can see they underestimate me. It makes me want to win more.” That kind of motivation is key to Decker’s success, with weekly lessons following practice after a summer spent making the rounds on courses from Montauk to Manorville.
Meanwhile, Denon finds playing varsity golf has helped him focus on his strengths, which he describes as, “the short game: putting and irons.” Knowing his rivals will out-drive him, Denon says, “I make sure I hit straight shots, play it safe and avoid risks.” In sinking a 35-foot putt for a birdie on the first hole Thursday, Denon set himself up to finish the 9-hole round with just 13 putts, one-putting six times in all. Coach Crowley recounted, “Gabe was excited with his 43 and he should be.”
Whalers Win First
Boys’ varsity soccer broke into the win column last Wednesday, coming home from Mercy with a 7-2 triumph. Christian Gonzalez scored four times and Tyler Gilbride tallied his first varsity goal in breaking open a close game. Gilbride also added an assist while Stephen Early had two.
The win came after a series of narrow losses, Coach Donnelly McGovern saying, “It clicked. We stepped it up. We closed down their scoring option and we moved the ball well. We played with a sense of urgency and finished the opportunities we created.”
Things were different in Monday’s 2-0 loss in Southold, Coach McGovern reporting, “We allowed them to dictate play”, but noting, “Mark Mahoney played a great game in goal.” Senior sweeper Andrew Mitchell echoed his coach’s praise of the junior keeper adding, “Mark saved us a lot of goals.”
Mahoney, in goal for the varsity for the first time after just two years playing the position, says he’s still learning how to “control the game from the back and let the defense know where to go. I’m starting to call out who should mark who.” Mitchell, who often plays directly in front of Mahoney, feels his keeper has “become more aggressive and gotten a lot better.”
In considering the team’s season thus far, Mitchell said, “We compete. We’re always hustling. We’re in every game. We just need to finish more.” Looking ahead to the team’s upcoming matches this week against Stony Brook, Ross and Smithtown Christian, Mitchell added, “We can get these. We had Smithtown the first time but they got away and we’re better than we were last time we played [the other two].”
The boys go into today’s match at Stony Brook, 1-6 in league play. Coach McGovern sees his players “improving their reads and moving better without the ball. But, we’ve got to dictate play more. If we do that we’ll be happy with the results.”
Girls’ varsity soccer saw Southold/Greenport make off with a last-minute 4-3 win Monday, undoing a comeback from a 3-0 halftime deficit and dropping their league record to 2-4.
A goal by right wing Natalie Abbene early in the second half sparked the Pierson attack. Sweeper Kaci Koehne noted, “After Natalie scored, we started thinking, ‘We got this.’” Midfielder Katie Osiecki felt the same thing, saying, “We saw that we could play with them and we stepped it up.” Osiecki added a goal and Abbene another in evening up the match at 3-3.
Osiecki, a senior, saw her seventh-grade sister Annie have another strong game in goal, until a breakaway set up Southold for the winning score. The elder Osiecki said, “Annie’s been great. It’s a real learning experience for her”; a sentiment shared by Koehne, who added, “Annie’s amazing. She works well with all of us.”
Osiecki believes the team, in just its second season at the varsity level, can still reach the county playoffs. “That’s been our goal from the beginning. We’ve already done better than last season and we have six games left.”
No Let Up
Just over 15 minutes into Monday’s match with Hampton Bays, the Pierson varsity field hockey team led 4-0. Sam Federico fired up the home crowd by knocking in all four goals to shatter the school scoring mark.
From her position in the backfield, Megan Pintauro believes the Lady Whalers’ passing and positioning will keep Federico adding to her total. “She’s playing that back post the way you’re supposed to,” explained Pintauro on Tuesday, “We’re feeding it in to her and she’s taking advantage of being behind the goalie. It’s great.”
Pintauro has been thrilled by the team’s start saying, “I never thought we’d be 10-1.” She attributes that success to the way the team works, and points out, “Everybody hustles in practice. No one is kidding around. No one takes field hockey as a joke at all.” Meanwhile, tri-captain Anna Verneuille is less surprised at the team’s ranking, admitting she “came into the season with high expectations because we worked together all summer and we’re passionate about our game.”
With four games on the road before the final home game against William Floyd on October 16, Verneuille “does not want to let up and I don’t think we will. We can play well wherever we go.” Pintauro feels especially ready for Tuesday’s match at Miller Place, where Pierson can avenge its only loss, suggesting, “We’re stronger than we were. And they can’t fool us anymore.”