By Gavin Menu
Nine months have passed since Kasey Gilbride knocked in an overtime goal in Syracuse to send the Pierson field hockey team home with a New York State Class C Championship. Six seniors have graduated since, but on Monday a new look Lady Whalers team emerged with an impressive result, a 5-1 road win over Greenport-Southold, to begin their 2014 season.
Attempting to replace the brilliance of Gilbride, now in her freshman year playing Division I field hockey at the University of Richmond, is Ana Sherwood, a sophomore who scored three goals on Monday. Sherwood was an integral part of last year’s championship team as well, but has improved her game to even greater heights during the offseason.
“Ana’s potential is limitless,” head coach Shannon Judge said on Tuesday. “She is an unbelievable offensive threat. Her stick skills are quick and precise. Her ability to aerial the ball around players is also thrilling to watch.”
Judge called Sherwood’s three goals on Monday “works of art.” She also called out junior Erica Selyukova, who scored one goal off a corner, and, according to Judge, “controls the entire field.”
“She maintains the center,” Judge said about Selyukova. “Her defensive foot work and positioning are innate and she is also a huge offensive threat.”
Freshman Hollie Schleicher also scored a goal on Monday and Phiona Vall added an assist, while Allura Leggard and Cali Cafiero played important offensive roles as well.
Sheila Mackey and Charlotte Johnson, who have replaced last year’s goalie Sam Duchemin, combined to make four saves in goal. Greenport goalie Katie Tuthill was under siege and was forced to make 28 saves.
“Overall we played really well,” said Judge, whose team will host two straight games starting today, September 11, against Port Jefferson at 4:30 p.m. “I really believe in this team. They know what it takes to be champions and have the opportunity to play with elite athletes at an elite level, which will give them the drive to push forward throughout the season.”
Following today’s game with Port Jeff, the Lady Whalers will host East Hampton on Monday at 4 p.m.