By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
The message from the Southampton field hockey team was made clear early in last week’s Suffolk County Class C final: Not this year, Pierson. And not against this team stacked with senior talent.
The Lady Mariners, led by five senior stalwarts, avenged their loss in last year’s county final with a 2-1 victory over Pierson at the Dowling Sport Complex in Shirley on Thursday, October 30.
It was on the same field a season ago that the Lady Whalers beat Southampton to begin their triumphant march across New York to the program’s first-ever state championship. Five seniors graduated from that team, and a younger core of players returned for another run.
But after dominating the majority of the action on Thursday, it will be the Lady Mariners this time around who will carry the hopes of East End field hockey deeper into the postseason.
“Early on, we were still adjusting to the game,” Pierson junior Erica Selyukova said later. “Our intensity was there, but it was not where it could have been. Southampton played well.”
The Lady Mariners advanced in the overall county tournament but lost, 3-0, to Rocky Point in the Small Schools Final on Tuesday. They also advanced in the New York State Class C tournament and will face Carle Place for the Long Island Championship this Sunday, November 9, at Adelphi University.
Southampton senior Meggie Gallo was especially impressive against Pierson last Thursday as she set up the game’s first goal by Chloe Schmidt with 19:11 remaining in the first half, and scored a goal herself on a penalty shot at the 25:49 mark of the second half. Gallo nearly scored again on a second penalty, but her shot was saved off the leg of Pierson goalie Charlotte Johnson with 14:29 remaining.
At that point, Pierson had cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal by Selyukova, who scored off a shot by Ana Sherwood, who ended the season with 26 goals, two shy of the school record. Pierson’s level of play rose dramatically late in the game, and the team threatened with a flurry of corners, all of which were turned away by the stern Southampton defense.
“They were definitely tough,” said Pierson’s Rachel Miller, who was one of just two seniors on this year’s team along with Phiona Vall. “This season was new, but in a good way. We all came together and did the best we could, and we came this far. I’m really proud of us, to say the least.”
Pierson head coach Shannon Judge showered her two seniors with praise following the game.
“Two of the most inspirational kids I’ve ever coached,” Judge said about Miller and Vall. “They’re true team players.”