Katie Kneeland let in an early goal Friday against Center Moriches in her last home game as a member of the Lady Whalers soccer team. It’s been a tough year for the senior goalie and for Pierson/Bridgehampton, the only Class C team in Suffolk County, which has lost 11 games and won just two.
The game against Center Moriches had all the makings of another setback, but Kneeland went on to make 20 saves and junior forward Chastin Giles scored a goal late in the first half to tie the game at 1-1. The second half and two overtime periods went by without another score, mostly with Kneeland standing on her head and making one save after another.
“She’s been averaging anywhere between 12 and 18 saves per game,” Pierson head coach Kevin Roode said about his senior goalie. “With practice and determination, she’s really turned herself into such a great overall athlete. For her to even play on a club team in college would be a tremendous asset to that team.”
Kneeland went from having one of the best games of her career in the tie with Center Moriches to one of her worst on Monday, when she collided with an opposing player from Smithtown Christian and had to leave the game early with a bloody nose and possible concussion. The Lady Whalers went on to lose the game, 7-2, with eighth-grader Elizabeth Hallock in goal.
Still, since Pierson is the only Class C school competing in girls soccer in Suffolk County, the postseason is not out of consideration. “We beat two ‘B’ schools and tied a ‘B’ school — and the tie was really big because Center Moriches beat all the other ‘B’ schools,” said Roode, whose team has wins over Amityville and Hampton Bays this year.
Pierson closed out the regular season with a game at Mattituck on Wednesday after press time. Roode will meet with other coaches from Suffolk County on Thursday and should know by Friday afternoon whether the Lady Whalers will be granted a berth in the postseason, which would mean a date in the Long Island Championship game on November 2.
If Wednesday turns out to be the final game of the season, eight seniors, including Kneeland, would say goodbye to a program that included 22 players this season at the varsity level. They include Paige Hoyt, Anais Kuss, Isabel Culver, Kelly Kinsella, Danielle Lejarza, Maria Torres and Daphne Barrientos-Vega.