The Pierson/Bridgehampton boys soccer team’s 2-4-1 record may not be as shiny and sparkling as some of the top teams in League V, but believe it or not, the Whalers still have a shot at making the postseason — thanks, in part, to a 3-2 victory over Greenport at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor on Monday.
If Pierson can close its regular season with a victory at winless Port Jefferson this Thursday, April 8, head coach Peter Solow said he will petition Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics, to get his team into the Class C playoffs. Since the Whalers play in a mixed classification league with larger Class B schools such as Babylon, Center Moriches and Southampton, smaller schools such as Pierson, a Class C school, can try and make their case to the county to allow it to continue its season if its record against fellow ‘C’ schools is closer to the usual .500-or-better record threshold that is needed to reach the postseason.
Pierson’s victory over Greenport on Monday was its first over a fellow ‘C’ school — it also has a win over Smithtown Christian, a ‘D’ school — and its only ‘C’ loss was to Southold earlier in the season when the Whalers were shorthanded for various reasons.
Pierson lost, 2-0, at Southampton this past Saturday, but more important than the outcome was the fact that it marked the first time since the first few games of the season that the Whalers had most of their team intact. Solow, who missed the first two weeks of the season after getting fully vaccinated from COVID-19, said he had heard how well the team was playing after it started the season with a 2-0 loss at East Hampton and back-to-back ties to Mattituck and Rocky Point.
But on his very first day back with the team, Solow said he was first greeted at practice by junior Erik Guanga-Soliz, who was in crutches after suffering a season-ending broken leg injury. Then a few days later, two players needed to quarantine for two weeks due to COVID, and another player was suspended, leaving the Whalers shorthanded.
“We went through most of the season missing a large number of our starters. For a small team like us — and small in the sense that we’re not like Center Moriches or East Hampton that have 30 guys on their team and if a starter goes down they fill it with someone who has just as much experience. We don’t have that luxury,” Solow explained. “So that situation had a profound impact on the way we were playing. Everything has sort of been like patching things up.
“But we’re putting the best team out on the field with two games left to play. Saturday was the first time everybody was back together, with the exception of Erik.”
As of Tuesday morning, each ‘C’ team in League V had a losing record, with Southold leading the way at 3-4-1. The expectation is that Southold, were it to finish with a losing record as well, would also petition, and if Pierson gets in, too, it would create another Class C Championship between the two rivalries.
Southold defeated Pierson, 4-0, on March 26.
“We were missing so many guys last time we played Southold that with the guys we had out there they were very difficult to play,” Solow said. “I would love to play them with all of our guys back, assuming Southold would be the other team to get in.”
Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, Solow said just getting through the pandemic-truncated campaign has been a major accomplishment.
“The important point is that we got to play without having the whole thing called off,” he said. “Back in the fall, I didn’t think we were even going to have a season, so that’s a massive plus. I can’t tell you how happy I am for the seniors who get to play their last home game today at the park.
“If the pandemic has showed us anything, it’s that we just have to be flexible and deal with whatever comes our way,” Solow added. “The fact that we were able to get a season in was such an important thing in so many different ways, if nothing else just to get back to some sort of normalcy.”