For more than 48 minutes on Wednesday evening, the Pierson field hockey team’s defense, led by goalie Charlotte Johnson, held Carle Place at bay, thwarting a relentless attack by the defending Long Island champion. But the dam finally broke when sophomore Emmaline Biggins scored unassisted with 17:44 left in the game, leading her team to an eventual 2-0 win over the Lady Whalers in the Long Island Class C Championship at Newfield High School.
Sophomore Julia Pascarella added the insurance goal with 3:40 left in the game.
Carle Place went on to beat Bronxville in the regional final, advancing to the New York State Final Four.
Pierson (5-11) was accustomed to playing teams like the Lady Frogs (9-3), a squad with speed and stick skills to match. The Lady Whalers were ranked in the top five to start the Division II season, meaning they played exclusively against the stronger Class B teams in their division. That experience made the defense and standout goalie Johnson battle tested, but it did not give what is a very young offense—mostly middle-schoolers and freshman—a chance to hone its skills. The Lady Whalers finally got into a rhythm on offense in their 4-0 victory over Babylon in the county final on Saturday, but they had virtually no punch on offense against the Lady Frogs, particularly after losing junior midfielder Paige Schaefer to a concussion with five minutes left in the first half. The Lady Whalers had one decent scoring chance with 6:30 left in the game, when senior Autumn Street carried the ball on a breakaway up the left side, leading to two penalty corners—the only ones her team earned in the game—but they couldn’t convert.
Head coach Kim Hannigan was not surprised with the way the game played out, not only because she is familiar with her team, but because she knows Carle Place quite well.
“Eight or nine [Carle Place players] play on my travel team, so skill-wise, I knew what to expect,” she said.
Both teams are young, with only a few seniors graduating and many young players who will be on varsity for several more years. Hannigan admitted that the Lady Frogs, while young, are a more experienced team than hers, but said she thought her team’s tough schedule had its advantages and disadvantages.
“We didn’t have too many confidence building games, and Carle Place had some of those,” she said. “You want some games where you can score a lot, and hear the boards and get used to that. I think we were used to the tough competition, and defensively how to mark up, so we held our own for awhile there.”
Hannigan credited Johnson (18 saves) for an outstanding effort, and said that midfielder Ava Lantiere also stepped up and played well, particularly after Schaefer went out.
Pierson loses five senior starters in Street, Claudia Patterson, Lantiere, Catherine Spolarich and Annabelle Schroeder, but will return Schaefer, Johnson and several other underclassmen who will return with a year of playoff experience under their belts. Carle Place only loses two seniors, and Hannigan said it’s a good bet that the teams will see each other again next season, and beyond.
“I think you’re going to see this Pierson/Carle Place battle for several more years,” she said.