The Suffolk County Class C Championship continues to be an enigma for the Pierson boys soccer team.
The Whalers lost, 2-0, to Southold on Saturday afternoon at Diamond in the Pines in Coram. It was the team’s fourth appearance in the county final since 2010, and whether it’s against Port Jefferson or Southold, Pierson can’t seem to get over the hump.
“It’s tough to deal with,” Pierson head coach Peter Solow said, following the loss. “Some kids are absolutely heartbroken. They’ve been here before and it’s really a reflection of their integrity as players how much the game means to them. Nobody should doubt how much the game means to these guys and they did the best they could.
“It could have went either way,” he added.
The Whalers controlled possession for much of the first half, and both teams traded scoring opportunities, but neither could find the back of the net and went scoreless at halftime. In the second half, Pierson (8-9 overall) continued to push Southold (14-2-1 overall). Junior Johann Cardenas crossed a ball that went through the box untouched, and then about 10 minutes later, junior captain Charlie Pintado took a shot from the top of the box but Southold junior goalie Dylan Clausen was just able to tip the ball over the goal for the save.
Not too long following Pierson’s near misses, Southold struck. Senior Joey Worysz found senior captain Peter Fouchet, who had some room to maneuver and get off a strong shot past Pierson junior goalie Kevin Feliciano to give the Settlers a 1-0 lead. About 10 minutes later, Worysz, off a set piece, again found Fouchet, who headed the ball in to give Southold the 2-0 lead and eventual victory.
“We’re very evenly matched teams,” Solow said. “We knew what we had to do. There were two guys that we knew were really dangerous. The guys that ended up scoring for them were the guys we knew were going to be trouble.
“We knew the tactics that we had to play and we played them. We knew who we had to watch and we watched them as best we could,” he added.
Pierson senior captain Cameron Burton said Southold, in the end, simply outplayed his team. “It was just getting on the end of those crosses, getting on the end of those shots and put it in the net. They did and we didn’t,” he explained. “It happens in games, can’t do anything about it. I think they played amazing, I think we played well too. Hats off to them.”
As with many teams at this point in the season, Pierson was dealing with a number of injuries, including three starters, sophomore Ethan Tanner, junior Sam Anderson and senior captain Andrew James. A few players, such as Burton, were playing through some obvious pain; he hurt his Achilles in the semifinal victory over Stony Brook. Junior Will Gawronski and senior captain Tom LaGrassa were just returning from season-long injuries. That meant that a number of young players had to step up, like sophomore Drew Fischer, who was playing in just his second varsity game on Saturday.
“On paper, before the season, we thought we were going to have an absolutely solid team,” Solow said. “But [injuries] happen with every team. You have to commend Southold. They were undefeated in the league, they played very well.”
Burton, James, LaGrassa, Wilver Garcia-Juarez and Jesus Padilla are all expected to graduate in June.
“They’ve been seniors with me for a long time,” Solow said. “That’s the thing, I feel sad for them because they’ve given so much.”