By Gavin Menu
This might be a déjà vu the Whalers would rather soon forget.
The Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team closed out the regular season Tuesday with a 1-0 home loss to undefeated Port Jefferson and will now play the defending New York State champion Royals for a second straight time in the opening round of the Suffolk County Class C playoffs on Halloween afternoon on Port Jeff’s home turf.
Talk about a scary stretch of back-to-back games.
“It’s a form of punishment for all the evil things we have done,” Whalers head coach Peter Solow joked before Tuesday’s game.
Solow quickly turned more serious, though, and said the Whalers will need to play a near perfect game to upset the Royals (11-0), the regular season League VIII champions who are widely regarded as the best team in the county regardless of classification. The Royals are stacked from top to bottom, Solow said, with All-State talent in seniors Vincent Antonelli and Blake Bohlen leading a potent line-up that returned in its entirety from last year.
“We have no control of who they are or what they do on the field,” Solow said. “But we can control how we play, and no matter who we’re playing now, we have to play extremely well in order to win.”
The Whalers did play well for much of the game on Tuesday and had several scoring chances early in the first half. But Port Jeff’s methodical attack eventually paid off with a goal off a corner by Gerard Racanelli with 24 minutes left in the game.
Solow had been hoping that Pierson would finish the regular season as the third seed in a four-team playoff bracket, but instead the Whalers, who finished with a 6-5-1 record in league play, lost, 3-0, at Greenport on Saturday to lose grip on the third playoff position. Greenport will play at second-seeded Southold in Wednesday’s other semifinal game.
“We didn’t play smart and we were outplayed,” Solow said when asked about the game against Greenport. “We had four or five incredible opportunities early, but we didn’t put the ball on goal.”
Pierson’s seniors, who include stalwarts Christian Bautista, Jackson Marienfeld and Giordan Zeas as well as Christian Figueroa, Alex Gurvich, Aditya Nugraha and Omar Reyes, played their final game at Mashashimuet Park on Tuesday and will have at least one more chance to leave a lasting legacy on Whalers soccer.
“We want to go out and play the best game we can,” Solow said bluntly. “We want their last game to be something they’re proud of.”
Wednesday’s game at Port Jefferson is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
Girls Season Comes to an End
The Pierson-Bridgehampton girls soccer team suffered a disappointing end to its season with three straight losses that knocked the Lady Whalers from playoff contention.
After a 4-2 win over Ross on October 15, the Lady Whalers needed two wins in their last three games to gain a playoff spot, but fell, 4-2, to Stony Brook on October 19 to set up must-win situations in their final two games. Those victories proved, elusive, however, as Pierson lost, 6-1, to Port Jefferson on October 19 before closing out the year with a 1-0 loss to Smithtown Christian on Monday.
Pierson, which finished with an overall record of 4-8-2, played well during stretches of the season behind a senior class that included co-captains Sophie Gianis and goalie Julia Schiavoni. In addition to Gianis and Schiavoni, Sarah Arbia, Lindsay Cox, Vanessa Cruz, Elizabeth Grigonis and Sara Hartman all played their last game this week for the Lady Whalers.