The East Hampton-Pierson girls lacrosse team is competing in large school Division I for the first time in program history, after competing in Division II for several seasons. And thanks to a front-loaded schedule that has the Bonackers seeing some of the largest and most competitive schools early on, they’re certainly getting an early look at what it’s like to compete among the county’s best, but they’re all taking it in stride.
After a 15-6 loss at home to Patchogue-Medford on Friday afternoon, players and coaches said all they can do is keep moving forward.
“We’re in a hard division this year, so the main goal really is to get to the fundamentals and just really try and play our best game, whether we lose or win,” Pierson senior Grace Perello said after the game.
“We have a really young team, so I think it’s going to really be a battle for them as freshmen and sophomores playing against seniors who probably committed [to colleges] since their sophomore year,” East Hampton senior Asha Hokanson said. “But we’re a pretty talented and fast team. We can keep up when we really want to.”
Patchogue-Medford rattled off five goals in the first five minutes of Friday’s game before East Hampton senior Lucy Short ended that run with 18:12 remaining in the first half. A pair of goals by Perello eventually brought East Hampton (1-4-092.370 within three goals of the Raiders’ lead at 6-3, but Patchogue-Medford scored four goals before the end of the first half, then added another five to start the second half before the Bonackers were able to put another tally on the scoreboard.
Perello finished with three goals, while East Hampton freshman Lola Garneau scored a pair, one coming off a nice interception and feed from East Hampton junior Ella Bistrian.
“We know that we play some big schools. We knew it was going to be a little bit tougher than Division II, that’s why we seeded ourselves so low, but I think that we’ll have some good, competitive games,” East Hampton head coach Jessica Sanna said. “We had our win over North Babylon, excited about that. We have some more competitive games coming up. We played the top half right now, so we’re really just hoping to set some goals for those games, like practice our defense, or to implement some new plays, or to get on the board.”
Sanna said her team, so far, has been able to do all of that and they will continue to look for progress.
“We have a very young core, which is great. They’re so coachable, so responsive, they want to be here, they’re excited to play, and they’re definitely learning and making progress, and that’s our goal, to build a program.”
Building for the future may not mean postseason play for a pair of four-year varsity players in Perello and Hokanson, but they seemed to have come to grips with that fact and are focusing on helping the younger players improve.
“It’s definitely a lot better than two years ago with a lot more potential,” Perello said of the program. “And I think in upcoming years this will be a great program. I just want to set a good example for the upcoming girls and just have fun. Honestly, just have fun.
“It really is about fun,” Hokanson added. “And we can only grow from here.”