By Benito Vila
Winning makes all the work seem worthwhile; it keeps teammates from focusing on their differences and almost always assures that they’ll be glad to see each other the next day; it gives coaches the freedom to vary their line-ups on the field and often inspires players to buy into their program.
The Whaler teams all had winning starts in league play this week, boys’ soccer breaking out to a 3-0 lead at home before cruising to a 4-1 win over Smithtown Christian; girls’ soccer mauling Mercy 6-0 in their opener; girls’ volleyball getting off to a 2-0 start by taking matches from Mercy and Greenport and golf going to 2-1 with wins over Westhampton and Center Moriches. East Hampton’s Bonac football team, which has two Pierson players, moved up in the standings, too, running its mark to 2-0 in a 19-7 win over Harborfields.
League schedules bring in top competition for all those Whaler teams this week. Girls’ soccer is home in Mashashimuet Park three times, hosting Class C rival Stony Brook today, matching up with Mattituck, a perennial playoff program, on Tuesday, and meeting Smithtown Christian on Wednesday; all the games are at 4:30 p.m.
Tomorrow, boys’ soccer plays undefeated Port Jefferson in the park at 4:30 p.m. At the same time, girls’ volleyball goes to the net against an experienced Stony Brook squad in the Pierson gym.
Both girls’ volleyball and girls’ soccer will be up early on Saturday, volleyball going to Kings Park for an 8 a.m. tournament start and soccer heading to Port Jefferson for a 10 a.m. start. The Bonac squad is also on the road Saturday, making their way to Miller Place for a 1:30 p.m. kick-off.
The Pierson cross-country teams, who were without a meet this week, will be back in action Tuesday running against Stony Brook in Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays at 4:30 p.m.
Whalers Get Up
After struggling to a 0-3-1 mark against Class A and B schools in their pre-season, the Pierson boys’ soccer team went into Monday’s league opener unsure whether that record was an accurate assessment of their skills or whether their competition had really been that good.
Within fifteen minutes of matching up with Smithtown Christian, the Whalers were playing without any doubts, taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Oscar Reinoso and then going up 2-0 on a goal by Jake Federico.
The Federico goal fired up the team, the point coming on a determined second effort following a long, well-placed pass that set up a one-on-one breakaway opportunity. Federico made good on that chance controlling Gabe Garro’s lead, sending a shot in and off the goalie and knocking the rebound into the back of the net.
The second half saw Kyle McGowin score a pair of goals, the first, a put back of a Federico shot, gave Pierson a 3-0 lead and the second put the Whalers up 4-1. Whaler coach Donnelly McGovern said, “Kyle’s second goal was an excellent finish. The best thing about the goal was that we did a nice job of moving the ball forward as a team and giving Kyle a good opportunity.”
In seeing what he has to emphasize more, Coach McGovern recognized, “We gave up a goal on a mental letdown in a failure to win 50-50 balls [those that either team could control] and a failure to track back quickly. They exploited that on us. Overall, I felt we did a decent job with winning balls on the flanks, but we lost too many balls in the middle of the field due to holding the ball too long and not challenging properly. In all, I was pleased with our efforts today, but I know we can play even better.”
With powerhouse Greenport on the schedule yesterday, Coach McGovern promised the Whalers would come out “looking to be even more direct when attacking and to get more numbers behind the ball and put them under pressure when we don’t have it. They move the ball very well when they’re in possession.”
“They will be a tough opponent; they have a solid goalkeeper who commands his box and they are very strong centrally, in the back and in the midfield. Their two forwards work off of each other very well. We must come to play with our A-plus-plus game, sustain pressure all over the field and counterattack on them.”
Coach McGovern expects the Port Jefferson squad coming in tomorrow to be a “a strong team that moves the ball all over the field with great composure especially when under pressure. We plan to mess that up with spirited play and a counterattacking style.”
Lady Whalers Wow
With a dominating pre-season that saw Pierson girls’ varsity soccer post a 3-0 mark, there was a good deal of anticipation for Tuesday’s league opener at Mercy. The Lady Whalers went in to play their closest Class C rival knowing that with three Class B schools on the schedule, they needs to win almost all of the six Class C matches to make the playoffs.
And with that pressure on, the girls came away 6-0 winners, Amanda Busiello leading the scoring with four goals. Natalie Abbene added a goal and notched two assists in just one half of play. Jessica Perez contributed the other goal with MariCarmen Chavez and Charlotte Novak each earning an assist.
Lady Whaler coach Haley Luzim said her team “controlled the ball for most of the game and moved it around well; that created the openings we wanted.” In matching up with Class C Stony Brook in the park today, Coach Luzim expects the Lady Bears to be “a lot stronger, based on their scores so far. We’re going to have to take a different line of attack by coming out just as aggressive on the offensive end and being ready to counter to beef up the defensive end.”
Saturday morning’s match at Port Jefferson is another key Class C pairing, with Coach Luzim hoping to rely on her offense to set the pace of the game.
Tuesday’s match in the park with Class B Mattituck has a certain irony for both programs since Coach Luzim’s father, Dennis Case, founded the Lady Tuckers program and now serves as her assistant. “Mattituck has always been ‘soccer-first’ and they’re known for the success of their programs. It’ll be good test of where we are as a team.”
Bonac Confidence Grows
The only thing about winning is that there’s no sneaking up on the competition; no one takes winning teams lightly. That was especially true for the Bonackers this week, who headed west to meet Harborfields after tearing up the Tornadoes’ bid for a perfect season last year by making off with a 7-0 win.
Despite a frenzied crowd that tried to whip up the home team, the Bonac team came out and took an early 7-0 lead, quarterback Austin Heneveld ducking in and out of the offensive line and racing 74 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown.
Pierson’s Joey Dowling put East Hampton back on the board in the second quarter, blocking a Tornado punt and recovering the ball in the end zone. Even though the extra point failed, the 13-0 lead was enough to quiet the crowd.
Heneveld added to the lead just before the half, scoring on a five-yard run, a second botched extra point making the score 19-0 Bonac. In the fourth quarter Harborfields found their way into the end zone but that was all the Tornadoes could muster.
Bonac head coach Bill Barbour attributed the win to his team’s experience, noting, “We have twelve returning starters and the coaches have a lot of confidence in their abilities. We wanted to come out and establish ourselves early. And fortunately we did that and jumped out to an early lead.”
Looking ahead to Miller Place, Coach Barbour said, “This week we have to learn how to finish. We had several chances to put Harborfields away but we didn’t. From that standpoint, I hope we learned another lesson that will enable us to be a better football team. We know Miller Place will be well coached and they have very tough and physical kids. They are not a team to be taken lightly [at 0-2], but I don’t think we are either. We will work on being more consistent and more physical, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.”
Dowling, a senior and two-way player starting at both offensive tackle and defensive end, likes his teammates’ approach thus far. “We are more confident than we have been and we’re really starting to come together.”