By Benito Vila
A month ago the Pierson boys’ soccer team knew their best games were to come. Undeterred by a 0-5 start in league play and sporting a 0-7 mark overall, seniors and underclassmen alike were certain there were better days ahead for them.
At the time, Gabe Garro said, “We’re going to pull through. We’ll get some wins in.” That sentiment was shared by Jake Federico and Kyle McGowin, who described how Coach Donnelly McGovern had the team working practice after practice on playing as a unit and keeping their resolve.
All of the positive thinking, determined mindfulness, game skills and team-first lessons Coach McGovern taught were tested in last Wednesday’s season finale in the park. The boys found themselves down 0-2 to Stony Brook at the half, and saw the possibility of a three-game season-ending win streak and a 5-2 finish slipping away.
A halftime ceremony for the seniors and their families psyched up the Whalers before they returned to the field. That parental “love” and a reminder from Coach McGovern to maintain their focus, “not to try to do too much on their own and hold their positions better” seemed to be all the team needed.
A goal by senior Andrew Mitchell minutes into the second half sparked the comeback. When Garro added a goal to tie and later another to put the team up 3-2, Coach McGovern saw seniors Joe Mascali, Sam Guest, Casey Crowley and Noah Feinberg take control on the field, toughening up their play and helping to hold the lead.
In all, Coach McGovern described the match as “thrilling and exciting,” adding, “It was a pleasure to see the boys work the way they did. They stepped it up the second half when they could have given in. We played with great intensity, and we did a great job of stretching the Stony Brook defense out which opened up space for our attack.”
Â The team ended the season at 6-8 in league and 6-10 overall. Junior Christian Gonzales led the team in scoring with nine goals. Senior Casey Crowley led in assists with four and was second in goals with five. Middle-schooler Garro scored four times even though an early season injury limited his time on the field. Juniors Jeffrey Schimmer, Kyle McGowin and senior Joe Mascali each scored three.
Five others scored one apiece, the team scoring 38 in all, averaging 2.4 goals per game. Junior goalkeeper Mark Mahoney led the league in saves with 131 and the team allowed an average of 2.2 goals per game.
After the team’s final practice last Tuesday, Coach McGovern said, “Our 2009 season starts Thursday,” and described the approach he would like to see. Much of the team has taken his words to heart, some working out in the weight room and some making it to the park.
Coach McGovern promises he and JV coach Marc Schimmer “will provide many opportunities for [students] to play soccer and to improve their game. We will be getting into the gym and playing indoors to get a lot of touches on the ball. We are trying to get the boys involved in playing on a Long Island Junior Soccer League team this spring through the Sag Harbor Soccer Club. This will allow the players to gain more game experience with each other. I hope they take advantage of these opportunities. The bottom line is that if the returning players do not play in the off-season we will be at a great disadvantage come the fall of 2009.”