Tag Archive | "Pierson Whalers"

Federico Nets Four in Big Win Over Greenport

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By Benito Vila

Once in a while things just go a player’s way. So it was for Whaler forward Jake Federico on Tuesday in Mashashimuet Park as he posted four first half goals in leading Pierson to a 4-2 win over Greenport to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.

The Whalers are now 3-4-1 in League VIII, set to take on league leader Port Jefferson there today, before rounding out the team’s away schedule at Ross next Thursday. The following week closes out the team’s regular season, Stony Brook and Southold making their way out to play in the park.

This past week saw the Whalers playoff hopes rocked by close losses, Southold prevailing 2-1 in overtime last Wednesday and Smithtown Christian holding on 1-0 Friday. More than one loss the rest of the way will eliminate the Pierson boys from post-season play, a .500 record or better required for the county tournaments.

Coach Donnelly McGovern called the Southold match “a heartbreaker. The boys played with tremendous determination and will throughout the match, but we failed to move the ball out of the defensive third quickly and Southold capitalized on it and buried the ball in the goal in the first sudden-death overtime period.”

 At Smithtown Christian an early goal forced the Whalers to play from behind. Coach McGovern said, “We were fighting to get the equalizer on Friday but it never came.  One of the reasons it never came is that we failed to open up the Smithtown Christian defense. We constantly attempted to go through their strong central defenders. We failed to use the flanks and this limited the number of scoring opportunities we were able to generate.”

One, Two, Three, Four

The scoring opportunities were there Tuesday, the offense opening up the field at home and Federico finding open seams in the Porters’ defense. His first score put Pierson up 1-0 barely five minutes in to the match, the next two making the action somewhat scrimmage-like, the Whalers holding a 3-0 not even mid-way through the first half.

But then the Porters came back, posting a pair of goals in the space of a few minutes, the Whalers letting down their guard. The Porters’ potent attack made the game “nerve-racking” for Coach McGovern, regardless of the score. “They are the type of team that will jump it up a notch if they are a goal down. At times we gave them too much space and we failed to win balls in the air.”

Federico capitalized on a rebound for his fourth goal to give Pierson some breathing room at 4-2, the defense tightening up with Coach McGovern making some adjustments. At the half, Coach McGovern  moved Sean Hartnett to the midfield “to win balls and to distribute from the center. He played a strong match and made very good decisions. Jeff Schimmer also did a nice job defensively of clearing balls and winning battles inside the penalty area.”

 “All the players played hard and determined [Tuesday], but I feel the difference over Friday was that we finished opportunities and played a more spirited match. Tactically, we did a much better job today of utilizing the width of the field as we moved the ball into the attacking third of the field.”

And Jake moved extremely well off the ball which allowed us to exploit them because he created space for himself. If he continues to do this consistently against our future opponents, we will be successful.”

Fed Shakes It All Off

When asked about his take on the game, Federico, a senior, spoke mostly about his teammates, saying, “It was basically everyone in the backfield forcing the ball up; Gabe Burford, Christian [Gonzales], Kyle [McGowin] and Jeff in particular. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to play the ball wide and attack the goal.”

He also added, “Skyler Loesch was awesome up front in the first half, winning the 50-50 balls and distributing them to where their was room to work. We played great today, now we have to look to Port Jeff.”

Looking ahead to today’s match and beyond, Coach McGovern said, “In order for us to be playing into November, we will have to play every match even more determined than [Tuesday]. We will need to be even more focused and consistent in our play. We will need to make quicker decisions as we open up our opponents defensively.”

 “Port Jefferson will be a better opponent than Greenport. I believe we can play with anyone and beat any opponent. The difference will be if the boys show up to perform and play with heart and desire to finish on top that day for the entire match.”

Whalers Boys and Girls Soccer Need Wins for Playoffs

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By Benito Vila

At the halfway mark of the Pierson soccer seasons, the results so far read more like an early essay draft than a clear-cut fill-in the blank test. The boys’ varsity, at 2-3-1, and the girls’ varsity, at 3-3, are neither at the top of their leagues nor towards the bottom.

Being somewhere in the middle, how the teams do the next two weeks will determine whether they keep playing come the beginning of next month. That’s when the county tournaments start, the boys’ Class C bracket scheduled to open November 4 and the girls’ November 6.

Right now the Lady Whalers seem to have the inside track on the post-season, a 2-1 record against Class C opponents making a one-game title showdown with Stony Brook likely. The key to clinching that berth will be closing out wins over Mercy on Saturday away and Port Jefferson in Mashashimuet Park next Friday.

The girls have a match with Class B Center Moriches in the park today at 4:30 p.m., completing the team’s first tour through its League VII schedule. A re-match of an early season home 3-1 loss to Stony Brook is scheduled for next Wednesday away.

The Whalers, meanwhile, have their work cut out for them, four wins in their next six games being the most straightforward way to earn their spot. The double overtime tie against Class D Greenport last month could prove to be their undoing if they are not able to reach the .500 mark by season’s end [at home versus Southold, October 28].

Two Long Rides

Yesterday, the boys were in Southold to take on the League VIII leaders and came home aware of the challenge ahead after a 2-1 overtime loss. That made for the second long ride of the week, an evenly played match in Stony Brook going the other way on a late goal that lifted the Bears to a 1-0 win.

Whaler coach Donnelly McGovern described the outcome against Stony Brook as “disappointing since we battled hard and created quality opportunities. Stony Brook was better than us in the midfield and that was the difference. They were able to finish one of their opportunities in the sixty-fourth minute. We lost the battle for that ball in the middle and it cost us.”

In preparation for Southold, Coach McGovern had the Whalers work on “possession of the ball in the midfield and on finishing in the attacking third.” The team was able to do just that in a 1-0 win over Ross last Friday, Gabe Garro taking a pass from Tyler Gilbride in front of the Raven goal and driving a shot into the back of the net.

That slim advantage with ten minutes left proved to be enough, Pierson escaping a late Ross barrage led by forward Liam Chaskey. Coach McGovern said afterwards, “I knew Ross would be good. The way the match was going I felt it was going to come down to a single goal. I was pleased it was ours.”

This week the Whalers are at Smithtown Christian tomorrow and home against Greenport at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. They are back on the road in Port Jefferson next Thursday.

A Quick Change

After the Lady Whalers’ first-ever victory over perennial powerhouse Mattituck, a 2-1 thriller in the park Tuesday, the girls were back Wednesday to host Smithtown Christian. The emotional spark of the afternoon before was elsewhere, the visitors making off with a 4-1 win, Natalie Abbene knocking in Pierson’s only goal.

On Tuesday, the team went over to Southold to take on the undefeated league leader and battled the Lady Settlers to a scoreless tie until late in the second half. A hard tackle took down Pierson midfielder Emily Hinz and halted the game, medical personnel attending to Hinz who sustained a sprained neck.

When the game resumed, the Lady Whalers saw Southold come on to score three quick unanswered goals to finish off an otherwise close game. Pierson goalie, eighth grader Annie Osiecki, registered 16 saves, holding off the Lady Settler attack until the injury changed up the defense in front of her.

Abbene said afterwards, “It was even when Emily got hurt. We let down for five minutes and that was all they needed. If we play together [today] and Saturday, we can get back on track and we’ll all feel better about that.” Looking ahead with confidence, she added, “We’ll be in the playoffs.”

Pierson Cross Country Hits the Road

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By Benito Vila

Taking to the road means different things to different people. For the Okies in the dustbowl thirties, it meant new beginnings. For high school runners, it’s typically a means to an end, the way to prepare, visualize and improve for each meet.

This year’s Pierson cross-country teams are “on the road” the next two weekends, traveling to out-of-state invitationals. Both teams are likely to come home with new perspectives on training and a new appreciation for competition.

The Lady Whalers, the two-time Suffolk County defending Class D champions, are off to Disney World in Orlando tomorrow for the Disney Cross Country classic. Next Friday, the Whalers head to Warwick, Rhode Island for the 27th annual Brown High School Cross Country Invitational.

The girls would like to see the time away change their fortune at home, Tuesday’s meet at Sunken Meadow against Center Moriches pushing their league marks to 0-3. For Lady Whaler coach Jim Kinnier the race was another chance for his team to get to know the Sunken Meadow course, the site of the county championships November 6.

Assessing his squad’s performance Coach Kinnier said, “We lost 20-40. However, I was very pleased with their performances. They all improved their time by over a minute. Keriann FitzPatrick finished second overall in 22 minutes 50 seconds. Aura Skerys finished sixth overall, in 24:17; Brianna Kinnier, ninth overall, in 25:03; Olivia Kaminski, twelfth overall, in 27:09 and Genevieve Kotz, thirteenth overall, in 28:53.”

Providing some context, Coach Kinnier added, “There were 16 runners in the race and we held our own overall. Center Moriches is in League VIII with us but they are a Class C school so we won’t see them at the county meet.”

Whalers Win First

The outcome was entirely different for the boys Tuesday, the team coming in with the low total to earn their first win of the season, 25-35, and improve to 1-2 in the standings.

Coach Doug Alnwick reported afterwards, “The runners were very excited and pleased with their performances. Kyle Fletcher took first overall with a time of 19:17; Peter Skerys placed third, at 20:34; Brendan Sheil sixth, at 21:45; Paul Dorego seventh, at 21:47; Jeremy Pepper eighth, at 22:27; Cory Framm ninth, at 22:28; Patrick Ficorilli tenth, at 22:50; Nick Dwoskin twelfth, at 24: 09. James Frazier did not run due to a minor injury.”

Coach Alnwick has noticed the Whalers’ intensity improving in practice and has enjoyed seeing the result of that effort becoming clear to his team. “This team really enjoys running in practice. I keep changing up the routine and keep each day interesting. We have been running half-mile repeats on flat as well as hilly terrain and the runners tell me that they definitely felt that helped them run their personal bests on Tuesday.”

What’s Ahead

Next week both teams are without a meet, Shelter Island dropping off the league schedule. Unfazed, the Pierson coaches intend on going up to Sunken Meadow next Tuesday and participating in non-scoring races to provide their teams additional experience.

The next league meet for both teams comes October 20 at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays, Mattituck and Southold closing out the regular season schedule. The county’s divisional meet follows on October 27 at Sunken Meadow, every school in the county competing together regardless of size and prepping for their class championships the week after.

Pierson Golf Stays Near Top

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By Benito Vila

When a team has a hot streak, they become the ones to beat. So it has been for the upstart Pierson golf team, a 3-1 League VIII mark (5-1 overall) pushing them to towards the top of the standings.

One-sided losses to Southampton and East Hampton cooled the Whalers a bit last week, but an 8-1 win over Westhampton last Wednesday put the squad closer to a first-ever invitation to the county’s spring tournament.

Coach Sean Crowley explained the possibility this week, saying, “The state tournament is a spring event. Most of the schools in western Suffolk also play a spring season and they go for that. Our schools [on the East End] play a fall season.”

 “Still, the county has a spring outing that includes us, usually at Indian Island in Riverhead. Teams that finish above .500 and towards the top of their league in the fall can bring as many as six players. Usually, I go with one or two of my players, even though it’s in the middle of baseball season and no one’s picked up a club for a while.”

Excited at the prospect of taking a bigger contingent this spring, Coach Crowley added, “It’s never been done since I’ve been around.”

What’s Ahead

To secure their spot as a team, the Whalers will need to win matches this week from Center Moriches today at Pine Hills Country Club in Manorville and Ross on Tuesday at East Hampton Golf Club on Abraham’s Path.

The contest with Center Moriches could prove more difficult than last month’s Pierson win at Noyac, the Devils coming on to surprise Southampton at Pine Hills this week. When asked what he has planned to prepare his team for that re-match today, Coach Crowley said, “We’ll talk about the course before we go out to play and we’ll talk about our approach. We want to keep from taking unnecessary chances and we want to play within ourselves.”

Top Scores

In the win over Westhampton, Jake Weingartner brought in the team low, shooting a 42, Gabe Denon, a stroke behind at 43. In all, the Whalers came in with a collective 227, the team low for the Noyac course this year. To earn the three points for the team win Wednesday, Harrison Bayrami, Adam Heller and James Fusco took their pairings.

On Thursday at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett, East Hampton made off with an 8-1 win, Heller the only Whaler to win his match. Denon posted the team low at 43, with Dillon Decker (45) and Weingartner (48) just strokes behind.

To improve his team’s scores this week, Coach Crowley used practice time “at the range to work on individual shots and individual clubs that have been giving individual players trouble.”

Rains Push Back Homecoming Parade to Sunday

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The Pierson Homecoming parade has been postponed to tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) at 1 p.m. That’s when each of the class kings and queens will leave the Spring Street parking lots behind Main Street on their “decade-themed” floats for the grandstand in the park. Class skits will follow there.

The Lady Whalers’ field hockey match that was due to follow the festivities in the park today has also been postponed. That game against Shoreham-Wading River will likely occur on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

Saturday’s alumni field hockey and soccer games have also been postponed with alumni Liz Marchisella and Hugo Escanuella looking for field time tomorrow.

Pierson Golf: Whalers Off to Best Start in 23 Years

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By Benito Vila

Golf is by no means an easy game for any individual, let alone a high school team, especially since the challenges in inter-scholastic play go far beyond the typical obstacles found on any single course.

When teams meet, there’s one-on-one match play, the golfers coming in ranked one through six in a line-up set by their coaches and teeing off with their opposite number. Those pairings and their high-pressure stakes are somewhat akin to those made-for-TV professional golf events, the type where Tiger Woods meets Phil Mickelson, winner take all.

In high school play, winners of each individual nine-hole round earn their teams a point for posting a score lower than their opponent. The team with the fewest collective strokes over the entire match merits three points, making it possible for one team to win fewer individual pairings and still take the match.

And that’s exactly how Pierson varsity golf defeated their Ross counterparts last Thursday, the Whalers collectively outscoring the Ravens, 238 to 247, at the Noyac Country Club. The three team points pushed Pierson ahead 5.5 to 3.5, Ross having won the individual pairings, 3-2, with one tie.

That win moved the Whalers to 3-1 in league play and 5-1 overall, coach Sean Crowley calling those records, “The best start in years; the best since Coach Vishno wrote the line up”, referring to his predecessor.

Coach Crowley attributes the strong start to “Confidence stepping to the first tee; depth up and down the line up; individual effort to improve and a team concept that has each player doing his part and celebrating his teammate’s success.”

The Ross match came down to one individual performance in the end, Harrison Bayrami, playing at number six and still on the course late, winning his round and his 47 securing the team victory. The team’s other low scores last Thursday were turned in by Dillon Decker, 46, Jake Weingartner, 48, Gabe Denon, 48, and Adam Heller, 49, with Heller notching the other win and Weingartner recording the tie.

Coach Crowley is most often using the freshmen duo of Decker and Denon in the top two spots, with junior Weingartner and sophomore Bayrami typically playing three and four and another freshman, Heller, holding five. There is more depth to the team, seniors Luke Kirrane and James Fusco and freshman Jake Bennett “getting better day by day.”

A Two-team Sweep

Last Wednesday, the Whalers hosted Mercy and Hampton Bays at Noyac in a three-way non-league match. The outcome was almost all Whalers, Pierson outscoring Mercy, 8.5 to .5, and Hampton Bays 8-1.

A Bayman shot the day’s low, a 38, but Decker, at 42, Denon, 46, Weingartner, 45, Heller, 47, Bayrami, 52, and Fusco, 48, totaled a collective 228 to come in under the 259 and the 256 their opponents needed to complete their rounds.

Matches This Week

In a second-place showdown at the Southampton Country Club Tuesday, the Mariners earned an 8-1 win over the Whalers, a blustery wind and an unfamiliar course creating havoc for the Pierson golfers. Decker came in with the team’s lowest round at 44; Denon, at number 3, posted the Whalers’ only win, finishing his round with a 46.

That outcome “away” may have been tough to take but the Whalers were back playing at “home” yesterday, matching up with Westhampton on the Noyac course.

Today, the boys are away again, playing undefeated East Hampton at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett. Next week, the team is set to play away twice, meeting Mercy at Long Island National in Riverhead for a non-league match on Wednesday and then teeing off with Center Moriches at Pine Hills Country Club in Manorville next Thursday.

Whaler Recap: After Friday Losses Three Teams Look Toward Homecoming

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By Benito Vila

Last Friday took an unfamiliar and unwelcome turn for Pierson athletics as boys’ soccer and girls’ volleyball lost league matches at home for the first time. Meanwhile girls’ field hockey had a long ride back from Port Jefferson, their Class C rivals building an early lead and shutting out the Lady Whalers, 2-0.

While the term “Black Friday” is often used to describe calamitous events occurring on that day, none of the Whaler coaches were inclined to put that sort of emphasis on the early season outcomes.

Stacey Springer, coach of Lady Whaler varsity volleyball, praised her team instead, pointing out, “It was a good match; we played well and made good plays. Stony Brook has a solid team and we hung in there against them. Each game was close.”

In looking ahead, Coach Springer added, “The playoffs are do-able if we keep our heads in the right place. We have to learn not to put so much pressure on ourselves when we get behind; we just have to stay together, do the basics and hit the ball and not just send it back.”

Donnelly McGovern, coach of the Whaler varsity soccer team, felt much the same way about his team, noting, “We played well enough to win. We did what we were supposed to do in scoring our goal off a rebound, but we didn’t equalize when we had the chance.”

In talking about some of the adjustments, he’ll be asking his team to make going forward, Coach McGovern said, “We held the ball too much in the middle and didn’t come away with it when we challenged. We didn’t use the width of the field and Port Jeff did a good job of funneling us into their central defenders. Next time we’ll have to change that.”

Shannon Judge also saw past the score and suggested, “We need to work on our communication. Our defensive positioning and our corner defense allowed goals to occur that shouldn’t have. And [on offense] we’re seeing that instead of looking for the perfect shot, and constantly restarting the play, we have to shoot on the cage more and draw more corners.”

Homecoming and Beyond

The three teams are all hosting matches this weekend as part of Homecoming, each competing against close rivals. Tomorrow, girls’ volleyball (2-2 in League VIII) takes on undefeated Shelter Island in the Pierson gym at 4 p.m. and boys’ soccer (1-1-1 in league play) meets Ross in Mashashimuet Park at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, field hockey (2-1 in division play) has undefeated Shoreham-Wading River coming into the park for an 11 a.m. start.

The matches this weekend and next week take the teams to their season mid-point, the likelihood of post-season play becoming clearer along the way. Volleyball is at Center Moriches Monday and hosts Ross next Friday at 4:30 p.m. Boys’ soccer is away all week, at Stony Brook Monday, at Southold Wednesday and at Smithtown Christian Friday.

Field hockey stays closer to home, taking on Rocky Point in the park Monday at 4:30 p.m., heading to Hampton Bays Wednesday and meeting Miller Place in the park next Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Lady Netters Prep

In preparing for Shelter Island, Coach Springer had her team play in the Kings Park Invitational on Saturday, going up against League IV Bellport and Copiague, League VI Rocky Point and their League V hosts. In all, the Lady Whalers played seven games, Coach Springer seeing the experience teach her team “what it means to play at a higher level and what it will take to make it to the top of our league.”

In Friday’s match with Stony Brook, Pierson lost 3-0, staying close to the Lady Bears each game, before falling 25-22, 25-19 and 25-18.

Boys Just Short

Boys’ soccer traveled to Greenport Wednesday to take on a perennial playoff team and returned with a 2-2 tie, both teams going scoreless in two sudden-death extra periods. Coach McGovern said his Whalers “played with great intensity and had a lot of opportunities but didn’t capitalize. We battled hard in both of the overtimes, but we came up short.”

Oscar Reinoso and Jake Federico recorded the Pierson goals, the Federico point tying the score with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. Seamus Doyle and Mark Mahoney split time at goalkeeper, each allowing a goal and each posting five saves.

The two keepers split time against Port Jefferson in the park Friday, Mahoney blocking four shots in the first half and Doyle five in the second. The Royals rolled up a 2-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the first half, but the Whalers came back within seconds to keep the game close.

The Pierson goal came off a deep drive into the corner that Reinoso controlled and then crossed high in front of the net. Gabe Garro and Kyle McGowin both leaped to head the ball in, McGowin making contact and Garro quickly recovering the rebound and kicking it into the back of the net with 1:59 remaining.

A scoreless back and forth second half made the final 2-1, both teams still battling in the mid-field when the gun went off.

In talking about his keeper strategy, McGovern said, “I have confidence in both and it’s likely I’ll keep splitting games. Mark gives us speed and versatility when he’s on the field and Seamus holds his own. What concerns me more is our play upfield. We should be using the width, putting ourselves in better position, playing the ball quicker and finishing on our opportunities.”

Crash the Cage

Field hockey overcame a 4-0 loss to Miller Place last Monday by outscoring Southampton 3-1 last Wednesday. Pierson’s Sarah Barrett, Sariah Cafiero and Alexa Lantiere each scored once on Wednesday with Lindsay Warne, Kacey Gilbride and Barrett contributing assists.

Coach Judge saw her team outmaneuver the Lady Mariners consistently but not finish in front of the goal. Pierson had a huge advantage on offense, drawing 17 corners while Southampton had none.

Still, Coach Judge praised the two “beautifully executed” second half goals. The first came on a breakaway five minutes into the half, Barrett bring the ball up the right side and crossing to Cafiero at the left post. The second followed soon after off a corner, Gilbride passing sharply to Lantiere, who nailed a direct shot on the cage.

Hoping the 2-0 loss at Port Jefferson last Friday proves to be a reminder of what can happen when teammates get out of sync, “stay back from the ball and pass too much”, Coach Judge is looking for the Lady Whalers to be more aggressive on Saturday. “We should consistently look for fast breaks, be ready to take shots on the cage anywhere under our offensive 25-yard line and crash the cage.”

Pierson Cross Country: Improving Techniques and Times

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By Benito Vila

Cross-country is a sport that takes as much drive and imagination as any there is. Training against themselves and a clock, runners either push themselves to improve their rhythm or find themselves keeping time breathlessly with the rest of the pack.

Both the Pierson teams have started their seasons 0-2, the losses coming to Port Jefferson at Sunken Meadow September 16 and to Stony Brook at Red Creek Park Tuesday. Those outcomes, though, have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of either team or their coaches.

In reporting his team’s times Tuesday night, Lady Whaler coach Jim Kinnier said, “Keriann [FitzPatrick] and Olivia [Kaminsky] had very good races. They showed improvement. Brianna [Kinnier] ran well, too, even though she’s been bitten by a [flu] bug.”

FitzPatrick led all finishers on the 2.7-mile Red Creek course, coming in at 21 minutes, 34 seconds. Kinnier came in sixth overall, second on the team, at 23:49. Aura Skerys was ninth overall at 24:16 and Kaminisky tenth, at 24:59.

Looking to get more exposure to Sunken Meadow, the site of the county championships, Coach Kinnier is taking his team there again next Tuesday, to run with Center Moriches and Mattituck. Hoping to help his girls earn the county Class D title for the third year in a row, Coach Kinnier added, “We’re going to keep going. You never know what might happen.”

Boys Shifting Gears

Whaler coach Doug Alnwick says he has had his team focus on “building a foundation for running long periods of time. We don’t have kids on year-long running regimens so we’ve been working on what that feels like.”

One of last week’s workouts for his 11-deep team included a 10-mile run on the beach that Coach Alnwick felt reinforced, “how to run a long, slow distance. Now that we have that down, we’re working on building our speed and getting that sort of rhythm going.”

This week the Whalers are running with Shelter Island at Sunken Meadow on Tuesday. Next weekend the team is traveling to Brown University for an invitational meet and then matching up against Center Moriches and Mattituck at Red Creek on October 20.

 “All that is getting them closer to know what it takes to run their best,” added Coach Alnwick, who also has his sights set on watching his boys compete in the county meet at Sunken Meadow on November 6.

Hamptons Track Club

The second Hampton Track Club youth meet of the fall is set for this Sunday in the park. The events start at 8 a.m., a one-mile 10-and-under run set to go off first, followed by and a mile-and-a-half 11-and-12 run. More information is available at hamptonstrackclub.org.

HTC-supporter and Sag Harbor resident Jeff Yennie took first place in the 60-64 age bracket in the Hamptons Half-Marathon in Springs last Saturday. Yennie completed the 13.1-mile course in one hour, 43 minutes and ten seconds, running at an under-eight-minutes-a-mile pace (7:53) and coming in 89 out of 1159 finishers.

Alumni Sports: The Sticks Come Out

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The sixth annual Pierson Alumni field hockey game is scheduled for this Saturday at 3 p.m. in Mashashimuet Park, with pre-game warm-ups following the Pierson and Shoreham-Wading River JV match-up that’s due to start at 1:30. The two varsities play at noon.

As many as 26 players have turned out for the everything-goes-match in years past, with everyone getting a chance to play. The alumni game has become a way for many to reconnect with former teammates and tell their favorite Debbie Jayne stories

Coach Jayne, who led the Pierson field hockey program for 33 years, will not be on hand this year. Talking from her home in Arizona yesterday, she said, “I’ve been keeping up with everyone on Facebook and I see there’s a group [of alumni] that’s been playing once a week, sometimes. It’s good that they’re still getting out, enjoying the game and each other’s company.”

Two recent field hockey alumni will be elsewhere this weekend. 2008 graduate Laura Stafford, will be playing midfield for Adelphi (Division II) in Garden City against Stonehill College (MA) while 2007 graduate Bethany Semlear will be prepping to take the same position for #5-ranked (Division I) UConn Huskies, who are at #7 Princeton on Sunday.

Semlear has started all 10 games for the undefeated Lady Huskies this fall, a showdown with their top local rival, #6 Syracuse, set for October 17 at Storrs. Stafford, who is also a starter, has tallied two goals in helping the Lady Panthers post a 7-3 mark thus far.

Both girls are also doing well off the field, Stafford earning a spot on the Division II National Academic Squad last spring and Semlear bringing home Big East Conference All-Academic team honors.

The soccer alumni have organized an impromptu game of their own for Saturday at 4 p.m. in the park. Anyone interested in playing should either show up then or call Hugo Escanuella at 466-7002.

Pierson Girls Soccer: The Will to Win

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By Benito Vila

There was love and admiration in the air in Mashashimuet Park Tuesday, parents of the Pierson girls’ varsity soccer team waiting patiently across the field as their favorite players collected their gear and talked with coach Dennis Case.

Once the Lady Whalers broke their huddle and headed across the field in two single-file lines, applause broke out, their biggest fans continuing to celebrate their daughters’ 2-1 win over Mattituck. When Coach Case reached the sideline along with the team, he announced, “That was the best win of their careers.”

It was the first time Pierson had ever topped Mattituck in girls’ varsity soccer, the perennial powerhouse Lady Tucker program having been first built by Coach Case in the late 1970s. “I taught some of those kids we played today before I left there five years ago,” added Coach Case afterwards in the parking lot. “And I probably made a few of them mad.”

Coach Case had quite a prominent role in the outcome. The match was originally to have been played as part of Pierson Homecoming this weekend, but Mattituck asked Pierson to move it to Tuesday as so not to conflict with a school activity there. That change required Coach Case serve as head coach Tuesday rather than as assistant coach because the Lady Whalers’ head coach, Haley Luzim, had personal commitments she was unable to move.

Over the weekend, the two Pierson coaches discussed what they might want to do to counter the Lady Tuckers’ attack, and hit on the idea of adjusting the positions played by several key players. That left Coach Case to ask leading scorer Natalie Abbene to take on the defensive sweeper role, Kara Gengarelly to go from sweeper to outside back, Alexia Farraguna and Sarah Hartman to move from the midfield to stopper and Amanda Busiello to stay forward as the sole striker, all without the benefit of even one practice, Monday having been a school holiday.

Coach Case also asked the team to make one more adjustment, to go from playing zone to man-to-man. The personnel shift and the defensive strategy worked perfectly together. The Lady Tuckers found themselves challenged at every turn and the Lady Whalers played with an enthusiasm that had faded after a 3-1 loss to Stony Brook last Thursday and a one-sided 3-0 win over Port Jefferson on Saturday.

“We packed the defensive end in front of our goal so that they couldn’t move the way they like to,” said Coach Case. “And our girls went out and won every ball in the middle. That made it all work.”

Asked to sum up the difference in the game, Gengarelly added, “We wanted it so much more than they did. We came out and out-hustled them in the first half and they never caught up.”

Confidence Kicks In

Even as sweeper, Abbene maintained a prominent role in the Pierson attack, clearing the ball upfield and controlling passes on the perimeter.

Mattituck fouls led Abbene to showcase her shooting skills twice in the first half, a penalty kick freezing the Lady Tucker goalie for the first Pierson score and a direct kick from 40 yards out sailing over Mattituck’s defensive wall and into the upper corner of the goal for the second.

“Having that 2-0 lead was incredible for us,” said Coach Case. “It allowed us to play with so much more confidence than we otherwise might not have had. And our confidence kept growing with every block Annie [Osiecki] made. She played a great game in goal.”

In all the Lady Tuckers managed to take 20 shots, Osiecki posting 17 saves. The one point that Mattituck did score came off an Osiecki tip that saw the ball go up and in the net rather than up and over the goal. Meanwhile, the Lady Whalers took only 10 shots, the Lady Tucker keeper making four saves [the other four shots going wide].

A Look Back

The win Tuesday improved the Lady Whalers league mark to 3-1, and 6-1 overall. Last Thursday, the team took its first loss, Stony Brook building a quick 3-0 lead and getting out of the park with a 3-1 win.

Coach Luzim saw her team play uninspired once they fell behind for the first time all season, but then saw them recover in the second half. “We started off well, but then after about 10 minutes our “A” game went elsewhere and Stony Brook was able to score three goals on us. However, we came back strong after regrouping at halftime and we were able to shut them down. Unfortunately, playing just one half was not enough to catch up on the three goals.”

The Lady Whalers went up-island early Saturday morning and found their way onto the winning track again in Port Jefferson, coming home with a 3-0 win. Coach Luzim re-capped the game by saying, “We controlled the ball most of the game. Port Jeff’s goalie had 20 saves while Annie only had 1.”

“Our first goal came off of an aggressive play by Amanda who challenged the goalie to free the ball. Emily Hinz was in the proper position and placed the ball in the upper corner. It was Emily’s first varsity goal. In the second half, Kaci provided a bunch of ‘through’ balls to the forwards and Amanda was able to capitalize on two of them.”

A Look Ahead

Next week’s schedule has Pierson at Southold Tuesday and in the park against Center Moriches Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Coach Luzim expects both “are going to be very tough opponents. We are going to take the same line of attack as we did for Mattituck and pack in the defense.”

“By boosting that part of our game, we are able to decrease the other team’s chances and frustrate them. The only bad thing about playing so defensively is that it takes away from our offensive attack. However, if we can keep them from scoring, a zero-zero tie would be a victory for us.”