By Benito Vila
Â Everyone wants to make varsity in high school. It’s what pro athletes talk about on TV and what Hollywood turns into teen drama year after year. It doesn’t always come so easy and that’s not where most players learn the game.
This fall, Pierson fielded four JVs along with seven varsity squads. No one was guaranteed a place up or down when practices opened in August, although upperclassmen have come to expect they’ll play with their peers. Everyone had to learn to work together and at their own level before final spots on the teams were assigned.
The Pierson JV coaches found a wealth of talent to work with once their teams came together. All spoke of co-operation, consistency and effort as being essential in their team’s successes and described the need for off-season training as being necessary for continued learning and growth.
No Squabbles or Attitudes
The JV girls’ field hockey kept pace with the record-setting varsity, posting a 9-2-1 mark. Coach Jill Stellato had a small squad of just 14 players and was delighted by their teamwork, commitment and work ethic. She said the key to this year’s success came from participation in “winter leagues and going to camps and clinics. They need to keep that up if they want to meet the standards and expectations [varsity coach] Shannon Judge has set for Pierson field hockey.”
Looking back at the season, Coach Stellato said there was no single defining highlight or one stand out player. But, she described what her takeaway from the season easily: “[There were] no squabbles, no attitudes. This was just a great team putting in a team effort for the entire season. The girls demanded a certain level of performance and dedication from their [teammates] and did not tolerate someone giving less than 100%.”
According to Coach Stellato, “The scoring was spread amongst a variety of players throughout the season, and the defense did a good job of stepping up and covering each others’ backs at various points in the season.” That sort of cooperation came about with forwards Kaci Gilbride, Kylie Morrisey, Lilah Yardley and Shannon O’Malley leading the attack.
Helping up front and holding their own in the midfield were Shannon Novak, Ana Rosa Vallejo, Catherine Musnicki, Melanie Stafford and Catherine O’Brien. Goalie Taylor Boutcher and sweeper Danielle Leggard anchored a solid defensive unit that featured fullbacks Amber Pagano, Nina Hemby and Jessica Warne.
No Super Stars
JV volleyball coach Claudia Ortmann similarly described on-court cooperation as key to her team’s success. “That was the highlight for me, seeing the team realize they were equally talented and that there were no super stars on the team. That helped them share their accomplishments and failures equally and truly as a team.”
Her squad finished with a 5-8 mark, often playing out of league when the league schools didn’t have JVs. Coach Ortmann said, “Our record says more about our competition. The schools we lost to have strong programs and the girls were able to see what they need to do to improve.”
In reviewing her roster, Coach Ortmann said, “The setter of any volleyball team is the ‘quarterback’. Ours was freshman Maddie Puckett. Our libero [a specialized defensive player] was sophomore Dominique Clark from Bridgehampton. The whole team relied on her time and time again and she never failed to give it her best effort.”
The JV had several other specialized players. Zoe Ives earned time as the serving specialist with Tanethea Clark and Giuia Mascali becoming defensive specialists. Morgan Lazar and Hayley Schimmer moved in to be middle hitters while Vaeria Lemus, Christina Martin and Shawntise Stephens stepped in from the outside. Chelsea Freleng found time as opposite hitter and alternative setter.
Coach Ortmann also praised the all-around play of Jennifer Carlozzi and Amy Florence. She hopes all the girls will “keep ‘touching’ a volleyball all year in clinics, clubs and camps. We had three girls play for the East End Waves and 16 girls go to UConn last summer. We need more to go and to join us for summer volleyball program on Wednesday nights.”
Girls Golf, Too
JV boys’ golf roster was somewhat unusual. In the midst of their young talent were three girls: juniors Chloe Laundrie and Celia Gianis, and freshman Emily Verneuille. JV coach Clint Schulman said, “It’s the first time that we’ve had three girls on the team.”
In describing the rest of his roster, Coach Schulman added, “We were very young throughout, with one seventh grader, Cooper Marienfeld; two eighth graders, Adam Heller and Christian Deger; and two ninth graders, [Verneuille and] Harrison Bayrami.”
Â “Four of our players had never played before but improved their average score by as much as 10 strokes,” explained Coach Schulman. “Part of this was due to the generosity of The Bridge [golf course] allowing us to use their driving range and having their pros helping with the kids.”
The team came in at 3-5 on the season and Coach Schulman would like to see “the kids attend clinics, take lessons and play golf throughout the spring and summer.” He noted, “Some of them will be working at local clubs and will be around the game a lot. That’s good. These players will soon play a significant role on varsity.”
Ties Teach, Reward
JV boys soccer team completed a 7-2-2 campaign which Coach Marc Schimmer called “very successful”. He described the two highlights of the season being the ties.
Â “We battled the East Hampton JV, traditionally a highly-skilled team, in the season opener to a 3-3 draw, a result that caused some consternation on the other side, from what I’ve heard. And then, after losing by an aggregate score of 10-2 in two games last fall, we tied Southold 2-2 at their place in a game that included a scoreless double overtime and had us playing in a steady downpour.”
In reviewing his roster, Coach Schimmer said, “Up front this season Oscar Reyes and Diego Gamboa helped ignite an offense on a team that scored goals in every game except the two losses [1-0 to Southold at home and 2-0 to Mattituck early on]. Dylan Hmielenski, Nico McMahon and Nolan O’Brien were strong and steady in the midfield. Gregorio Rojano, at stopper, Sean Hartnett, at sweeper, led the defensive effort, with able assistance from Jimmy Sloane and Sean Romeo on the wings. The primary goalkeeping duties were very capably handled by Seamus Doyle.”
JV sophomores Brook Hartnett and Skyler Loesch will be looking to make their mark on Whaler varsity next year. Gaining experience this year were 12 freshmen. Chris Beroes-Haigis, Emet Evjen, John Farry, Hunter Leyser, Refugio Mendez saw time upfront and in the midfield. Meanwhile Drew DeVito, Patrick McKenna, Sam Miller, Beau Riva, Damian Syrianos, Stephen Solow and Dan Thompson made most of their contributions on defense.
Coach Schimmer says he and varsity coach Donnelly McGovern have “urged everyone to both workout in the weight room and to do roadwork and running to stay in shape over the coming months. We have also encouraged the players to participate in both winter and spring leagues to keep playing in the long off-season.”