By Benito Vila
While the Pierson field hockey Lady Whalers are a near lock to play Port Jefferson November 1 for the county Class C title, their classmates on four teams are doing all they can to join them in the post-season.
Girls’ varsity soccer, at 3-5-1 in League VIII, matches up with winless Port Jefferson (yesterday), league-leader Smithtown Christian and middle-of-the-pack Southold/Greenport this week. A strong finish in those games could propel the third-year program to its first tournament berth. The team’s last two matches are in Mashashimuet Park, the Lady Crusaders coming in at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow and the Lady Clippers at 4 p.m. next Thursday.
Meanwhile, girls’ varsity volleyball at 6-4 in league play is just one win away from clinching their first ever post-season seed. That win could have come yesterday at Greenport/Southold or it could come Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the gym against Stony Brook. After those two matches, the road to the playoffs gets tougher with league-leaders Shelter Island and Center Moriches on the schedule away in the final week.
Both cross-country teams have closed out their league schedule, the girls taking third at 4-2 and the boys fourth at 2-3. Runners on the squads have reason to be optimistic in the upcoming divisional and class meets. The boys finished the season with a pair of decisive wins, while the girls, the defending Class D champions, also finished with a pair of wins and saw their losses come by just one point each.
A Possible Preview
Girls’ varsity soccer traveled to Stony Brook last Friday to face a likely playoff adversary that had outscored them 6-0 in the park last month. In playing to a 0-0 double overtime tie, coach Haley Luzim said she saw her team “come ready to play. We knew we had to give it our all and we did. It proves that when we play hard, we can play with anyone.”
Coach Luzim praised the defensive line-up of Kara Gengerally, Kaci Koehne, Diana Roderiguez and Alexia Farraguna, and goalkeeper Annie Osiecki who recorded 15 saves. But she pointed to the lock-down determination of Kathryn Heine as making the biggest difference between this match and the earlier one. “Kathryn covered their top scorer and totally shut her down. She was on her like they were playing ‘Simon Says’ and wouldn’t let her turn.”
Coming into the gym Monday to meet Mercy on Columbus Day, the girls’ volleyball squad found the school quiet. They created their own noise in taking game one, 25-14, and kept their momentum going by winning game two, 25-13, and game three, 25-18. Amanda Holder had three blocks and Samara Finkenauer had two kills in closing in on the tournament clincher. A November 3 date and another match with Stony Brook would await the squad if it earns its way in.
Travel, then taper
The cross-country teams are off to the Brown University Invitational this weekend, returning home for school Monday and the county’s divisional meet Tuesday. That race, held at Sunken Meadow, crowns the overall Suffolk team champion regardless of school size.
Boys’ coach Joe Amato and girls’ coach Jim Kinnier plan on using that divisional meet to prepare their squads for the course they will run in the sectional championship October 31. Early this week, Coach Amato said, “We’ll focus our energy on the small schools championship, that’s the one that determines how many of us will go to states.”
Coach Kinnier is taking a similar approach, having his girls start to run lesser amounts, “decreasing quantity, but not quality to taper off so that we’re in the best condition and most rested” for the sectional. With three runners out ahead at every league meet and three with improving times, Coach Kinnier feels his squad has “a realistic shot” at repeating as Class C champs.
Those top three, Keriann FitzPatrick, Rafaela Gurtler and Amelia Skerys, came in a close 1,2,3 overall in Tuesday’s 22-33 win over Center Moriches. FitzPatrick finished in 21 minutes and 57 seconds, Gertler at 21:58 and Skerys at 22:22. Brianna Kinnier was seventh overall at 25:27 and Aura Skerys ninth at 27:18. Newcomer Olivia Kaminski turned in at time of 31:36 in covering the full course for the first time.
In going to invitationals, Coach Kinnier is looking to find competition that can push the top three and allow them to work at another level. “They did well last weekend in the Manhattan College Invitational in Van Cortland Park. We came in ninth out of 13 against some real high quality schools. Running a short 2.5-mile course, FitzPatrick posted an 18:04, Gertler, an 18:23, and Amelia, an 18:32. Brianna came in at 21:09, Aura at 21:45 and Olivia at 26:03.”
Coach Amato finds his team consistently setting personal bests, Brendan Sheil having made the biggest gains over the course of the season. Sheil finished fifth on Tuesday at 20:39, barely trailing teammates Kai Leo (19:40) and Kyle Fletcher (20:15) who came in first and second respectively. Peter Skerys came in sixth overall at 21:25.