By Gavin Menu
Charlotte Johnson was in no mood to sing the praises of her opponent Wednesday evening at Newfield High School. It’s not that she wasn’t impressed with Carle Place, which had just ended the Lady Whalers’ season in the Long Island Class C Championship for the second consecutive year. It was more about her love for her teammates.
“We came out 110 percent, we gave it our all and we should be very proud of ourselves,” said Johnson, the Pierson/Bridgehampton field hockey team’s standout junior goalie, who allowed just two of 25 shots to get by in a 2-0 loss to the champion Frogs from Nassau County.
In a game that matched youth against youth, a pair of sophomores struck for Carle Place, which advanced in the New York State tournament and will play a regional final on Saturday at Patchogue-Medford High School.
With the Frogs almost on a constant attack all game, sophomore Emmaline Biggins finally broke through with 17:44 remaining in the second half. The Lady Whalers first crossed midfield in the second half and into the offensive zone with about seven minutes remaining, but they were unable to capitalize on their only two corners of the game.
Carle Place, in contrast, had 14 corners and scored during another series of offensive attacks with 3:40 remaining to ice another Long Island Class C Championship.
“I think you’re going to see this Pierson-Carle Place battle for several more years,” said Pierson’s first-year head coach Kim Hannigan, who four days earlier led the Lady Whalers to the Suffolk County Class C title with a 4-0 win over Babylon.
It’s those kinds of games, Hannigan said later, that give a team like Pierson confidence that it can score in big moments like the last two championship games. With a murder’s row of opponents this season, the Lady Whalers scrapped their way to a 5-10 record against some of the best programs in Suffolk County.
And while a number of seniors will graduate, including starters Ava Lantiere, Charlotte Patterson, Autumn Street, Catherine Spolarich and Annabelle Schroeder, the Lady Whalers will return with a stacked lineup, including Johnson in goal, and all-everything midfielder Paige Schaefer, who left Wednesday’s game late in the first half with a concussion.
“Her injury weakens the team,” Johnson said about her classmate, who had a gash on her forehead after a collision with 5:36 left in the first half. “She is such an asset and such a positive person on the field. We knew she was going to be fine, she’s a tough kid.”
Hannigan said Pierson was able to shuffle some positions and make due without Schaefer. Ultimately, she said Carle Place had more experience and certainly an impressive amount of talent.
“It’s great to see really good hockey and how they’re developing,” said Hannigan, whose East End Field Hockey travel team includes most key players from both Pierson and Carle Place.
“We didn’t have those kind of games where we had a lot of offensive opportunities throughout the season,” she continued. “We played a very challenging schedule and that didn’t offer us as many of those confidence-building games. Defensively, we held our own for a while and Charlotte played amazing. We’re very fortunate to have another year with her.”