By Gavin Menu
Peter Solow knew exactly what his players needed at practice last Thursday, and as the head coach of the Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team, he had no problem putting his plan into action.
“You guys are going to run, and then you’re going to run, and then you’re going to run some more,” he told his players bluntly.
The Whalers have an opportunity to excel this year and as of last week Solow said his players had to work primarily on conditioning before they could focus exclusively on coming together as a team on the field.
The result of the hard work was undeniable in the season opener last Saturday, a 2-0 win at Westhampton Beach, which is annually one of the stronger teams on the South Fork.
And there is other good news for Pierson and other Class C schools in Suffolk County this season. Defending New York State Class C Champion Port Jefferson, which knocked Pierson from the postseason last year and has essentially closed the door to League VIII and Class C competition for years, has moved up to League VII and will compete as a Class B school come playoff time.
“Yeah, but we play them on Monday,” Solow said last week, before the Whalers went on to lose to Port Jeff, 1-0, on Monday. “We absolutely wanted to play them. You look for non-league games starting in June and the first team I called was Port Jeff. It’s a good measure of where we are.”
So where are the Whalers as they enter the 2013 campaign?
“I think we’re capable not only of being a playoff team but also of doing very well this year,” Solow said. “With our younger kids, and our junior varsity, the future looks very bright. And a handful of our seniors are like warriors. So now we’re trying to get some of the other kids to buy into it.”
Leading the way are senior midfielders Drew Harvey and Forrest Loesch, who are two of the school’s best athletes, with Harvey having scored both Pierson goals in the win over Westhampton on Saturday. Senior Nick Stevens will start in goal, while Ian Barrett, Oliver Betts, Gavin O’Brien, Baxter Parcher-Charles and Marcos Perez round out the strong senior class on what is a relatively small, 17-player team.
“In the past on varsity, we’ve had 21, 22, 23 kids, so we’re a little low in terms of numbers,” Solow said, “but the good news is everyone will be playing.”
Juniors Jack Fitzpatrick and John Chisholm are also two of the school’s strongest athletes and will return to help lead the Whalers’ offensive attack. Two freshmen, Charlie Pintado and Jon Lopez, play soccer year-round and are “very talented,” according to their coach.
“Both these guys are going to be phenomenal players,” said Solow.
Alex Reinoso, a junior, and sophomore Jesus Padilla are solid players as well who are capable of playing both defense and midfield. Junior Duncan Bennett will back up Stevens in goal, but has also played well in practice and in a recent scrimmage on the defensive wing. Junior Claudio Figueroa will play defense and Max Grout, a sophomore, will see significant time on the field as well.
For the moment, the goalies will miss the presence of Mike Semkus, a Pierson alum and former All-State goaltender who has assisted Solow and the girls’ soccer teams at Pierson for the last several years. His appointment, which was approved in the district budget, was tabled at the most recent board of education meeting, according to Solow, who said the position was still under review.
“We were expecting him to be with us, and it left us scrambling around a little,” Solow said. “It’s unfortunate. At Pierson there’s an emphasis on having co-ed teams and valuing whatever your gender is. You step on the field and it doesn’t matter what your gender is, you’re just a soccer player. And this is one of those places in the athletic program where you had both boys and girls being coached by the same guy.”
The Whalers, who also lost a non-league game to Miller Place on Tuesday, will enjoy a break for the remainder of the week before kicking off the League VIII schedule against Smithtown Christian at home on Tuesday, September 17 at 4:30 p.m.
New Coach for Ladies
The Pierson-Bridgehampton girls soccer team will be led by a new head coach this year and will have to replace the loss of a strong senior class that included the team’s best player in Sophie Gianis.
Lisa Frisicano, who was the JV coach last season, has replaced Haley Luzim as the varsity head coach and will have good numbers, including 10 seniors, to work with as she looks to build a new program. The Lady Whalers started the new season strong against East Hampton on Monday, but ultimately allowed three second-half goals before falling, 3-0.
The league season begins for the Lady Whalers on September 16 with a road game at McGann-Mercy at 4 p.m. Pierson will host Smithtown Christian in its home opener at Mashashimuet Park on September 18 at 4:30 p.m.