The Pierson/Bridgehampton and Babylon field hockey teams had identical 5-10 overall records coming into the Suffolk County Class C Championship on Saturday at Half Hollow Hills West High School. While that may lead some to think the game was going to be close, the Lady Whalers made sure they were the clear champion.
Pierson won its third consecutive Class C title in a 4-0 victory that advanced the Lady Whalers to the Long Island Class C Championship against Nassau County champion Carle Place, which was played on Wednesday at Newfield High School in Selden (see 27east.com for separate story). A victory in that game would advance Pierson to the Regional Final at Patchogue/Medford High School on Saturday, November 4, against the Section I (Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester) Class C Champion at 2 p.m.
Due to its high seed (third) in the preseason, Pierson played a highly competitive schedule against all Class B schools, making Saturday’s contest its first against a fellow Class C team. The Lady Whalers didn’t wait long to get things going.
With just over 20 minutes remaining in the first half, eighth-grader Abby Sherwood found freshman Brooke Esposito for Pierson’s first goal of the game. Twelve minutes later, sophomore Mahlia Hemby made a nice pass to senior Autumn Street, who capitalized with a goal to make it 2-0. With just over 2:30 remaining in the half, Hemby found the back of the cage when she knocked in a rebound off a shot from senior Claudia Patterson. Street scored her second goal of the game at 23:34 in the second half to double Pierson’s previous season-high in goals scored in a game.
“I thought we played well,” Pierson head coach Kim Hannigan said on Monday. “We were finally able to capitalize on our offensive opportunities.
“I think having a challenging schedule gave us the opportunity to play stronger, and I guess better,” she added. “Not only did they individually improve, but they got better as a team throughout the season. It was nice finally facing a team in similar class size. We were not only able to hold our own, but were able to live up to the expectations.”
The defense was solid as well. Junior goalie Charlotte Johnson was credited with three saves but she didn’t have to do much work thanks to a stout defense that was aided by a strong midfield in seniors Ava Lantiere and Patterson and junior Paige Schaefer.
Hannigan thought the young Esposito had a breakout game on Saturday, and if she can continue to work well on the right wing, with Street manning the left wing, and the midfield continuing to play well, the offense could be taking off at just the right time.
“Brooke can be an incredible asset to our game,” Hannigan said. “Our middle has been stable all season with Paige, Ava and Claudia, who not only bring stability to that part of the field but a maturity from being veteran players. We’ve been getting the ball into our offensive zone and we’re hoping that carries over.”