Last year, playing Southold in the Suffolk County Class C Championship, the Pierson boys soccer team came out flat, and ended up losing 5-2.
On Tuesday, the Whalers had an opportunity to avenge that loss. But while Pierson showed much more heart in the rematch for the county title, Southold still came out on top once again in a 1-0 overtime victory at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.
Southold will play either Schechter or Rhineback in the Regional Final at Diamond in the Pines on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Pierson and Southold split one-goal games in the regular season, and it was evident in Tuesday’s game that they were evenly matched. Southold had a number of scoring chances in the first half, but Pierson was bailed out a number of times by sophomore goalie Chase Zimmerman. Pierson controlled possession in the second half but couldn’t get anything going—the Whalers were called offsides 12 times throughout the game.
Southold finally broke through with 42 seconds remaining in overtime. Senior Ryan DiGregorio, who just checked back into the game following an injury, sent a nice cross into the box from the left side. Senior Sean Moran came in from behind Pierson’s defense and struck a grounder past a diving Zimmerman—and the Settlers’ bench erupted onto the field in jubilation.
Pierson head coach Peter Solow said getting called offsides a dozen or so times hurt his team, but he was proud with the way it played in this season’s county final. “It’s a very difficult thing to overcome,” he said of the offsides problems. “I think the guys were very eager.
“We didn’t play the best game today,” he continued. “The first half, we survived. The second half, we started to stick it to them. The effort, the commitment to win this game, was there. I don’t think we were in sync as much as we should have been.”
Pierson senior Jack Fitzpatrick had a nice cross into the box in the fourth minute of overtime, but Southold senior goalie John Charles Funke gobbled up the ball before a Pierson player could get a foot on it. Fitzpatrick turned things on in the second half and won praise from both coaches for his play.
“They were marking him, and we knew they were going to mark him,” Solow said of Southold. “They’re a really terrific team. Nothing that they were doing was dirty but they were tough.
“Fitzpatrick, in the second half, showed what he can do,” he continued. “He is a phenomenal player.”
Fitzpatrick is one of six seniors expected to graduate in June. He’ll be joined by Johnny Chisolm, Claudio Figueroa, Duncan Bennett, Javier Martinez and Alex Reinoso.