By Andrew Rudansky
The Lady Whalers varsity soccer team had one game particularly marked on their schedule: Tuesday, September 20 against the Stony Brook Bears. A tough, rivalry match against the four-time reigning county champions, played at home, and early in the season; if the Lady Whalers wanted to make a splash this season this was the game in which to do it.
The Lady Whalers started their season with a non-league 0-2 loss to the East Hampton Bonackers last Saturday, and a win against the Bears would have done much to boost their confidence at the start of a long season.
But things were not to go the way of the combined Pierson-Bridgehampton squad, who were shut out, 0-1, in a game full of missed opportunities.
The home team Lady Whalers had an opening to score early, on a well-placed corner kick in the 25th minute of the first half. The ball, well inside of the goalie box and in Lady Whaler’s possession, was eventually wrestled out by a Stony Brook defender.
On the ensuing Stony Brook possession, Pierson-Bridgehampton found trouble as they were on the wrong side of a one-on-one breakaway. The Lady Whaler’s junior keeper, Julia Schiavoni, was able to jump on the ball preventing an early Stony Brook goal. It was to be only one of her 13 saves in the match.
“Schiavoni had a phenomenal game,” said Head Coach Haley Luzim after the game.
Most surprising for the Whalers was the emergence of Fallon O’Brien, the team’s new eighth grade striker. Thirty minutes into regulation time, O’Brien took the ball up the sideline unassisted, and after crossing into midfield rocketed the ball towards the Stony Brook net.
If it wasn’t for a fortuitous dive by the Stony Brook keeper, Mikaela Stiklickas, O’Brien would have had her first recorded goal as a member of the varsity squad.
“[O’Brien] is a very, very aggressive player; definitely an asset to the team,” said Luzim.
She is one of two eighth graders on the team, the other being forward Abby Holder, a player that Luzim also commended for her performance in Tuesday’s game. The inclusion of two eighth graders on the team’s roster highlights the overall youth of the team, one without a single senior.
“The lack of experience definitely hurt us,” said Luzim, “however we have the potential.”
In the same half of the game, freshman Zoe Diskin had her own shot on goal, the ball was on target, but didn’t have the speed necessary to get past the keeper.
Luzim said that Diskin was “probably the most skilled girl on the team but a little timid.”
The Whalers most prime opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the first half came in the 35th minute of the first half when junior outside halfback Sophie Gianis had control of the ball deep in Stony Brook territory.
After dribbling the ball up the left sideline she kicked it right across the face of the net. Stony Brook’s keeper was well out of place, but unfortunately the Whalers’ strikers couldn’t get to the ball before it was fielded out by a Stony Brook defender.
Luzim was disappointed because she has the team go over this very situation in every team practice.
Stony Brook eventually took the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. The Bears started the half with extremely aggressive play, pushing the Lady Whalers into their own territory.
Forty-eight minutes in, a Stony Brook striker rolled the ball towards the net; Schiavoni blocked the ball but slipped as she tried to cover it up. Tuesday’s game was played under a slight drizzle, making for slippery conditions all game.
Stony Brook’s freshman striker Daija Rubino capitalized on the now empty net, shooting the ball into the back left corner. Her goal was to be the only one of the match.
By the end of regulation, the Whalers were unable to get on the board, putting the team in the unenviable position of being 0-2 at the start of the season.
“I am very proud of my team, very proud,” said Luzim. “I would say if anything it should have been our game.”
The Lady Whalers next home game is against McGann-Mercy this Saturday, September 24 at 2 p.m.