By Gavin Menu and Michael Heller
It’s not supposed to look this easy.
The Pierson/Bridgehampton field hockey team was favored to win the Suffolk County Class C Championship game but few could have imagined the onslaught that unfolded at Diamond in the Pines in Coram on Friday.
Seniors Cali Cafiero and Ana Sherwood combined for seven goals and the Lady Whalers crushed Port Jefferson, 9-2, to stamp their ticket to the Long Island Championship game against either Carle Place or Oyster Bay on Saturday, November 5, at Adelphi University in Garden City.
Pierson took a six-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s Small Schools title game back Diamond in the Pines, but lost, 2-0, to Class B champ Miller Place, one of the best teams on Long Island, if not all of New York State, that Pierson beat back on October 14.
Tuesday’s game was not an elimination contest, however, so by Wednesday the Lady Whalers had turned their attention to this weekend’s Long Island title game. Carle Place is favored to win the Nassau final, which was held Wednesday after press time, and a victory by the Lady Frogs would set up a rematch from last season, when Pierson won a thriller to advance to the state final four.
Cafiero on Friday scored a hat trick in the first half, while Sherwood scored all four of her goals in the second half as the Lady Whalers ran away from the Lady Royals.
“I was surprised by how many goals we scored, but I knew we were going to win,” Cafiero said afterwards. “I believe in our team.”
Pierson head coach Bethany Semlear said the team’s passing attack improved day by day as the season moved on, but even she was surprised by the offensive explosion on Friday.
“We really played as a team today and played well,” said Semlear. “I was surprised we scored so much this game. We’ve had trouble scoring this year, but we executed, especially in corners. We were able to finish today.”
Autumn Street, a Bridgehampton student, scored a goal and had an assist, Hollie Schleicher had three assists and Paige Schaefer chipped in with a goal and an assist. Pierson’s sophomore goalie Charlotte Johnson made four saves, including one on a penalty stroke by Jackie Brown, Long Island’s leading scorer.
“We really came out strong and worked together well,” Sherwood said later as her team celebrated its third county championship in the last four years. “So there would be nothing other to expect than a good win.”