Whether or not it was the 4-0 loss to Southold in the Suffolk County Class C Championship in April, something got into the Pierson/Bridgehampton boys soccer team on Saturday when it hosted the Southold Settlers.
The Whalers jumped out to a 3-0 lead not even eight minutes into the game and went on to defeat their rival, 6-1, bookending what was one of the most successful weeks in recent memory for the program, which began with a 3-1 victory over Center Moriches on September 20 and also included a 4-1 victory at Smithtown Christian on September 22.
Pierson head coach Peter Solow said his team, which was 5-3 heading into Tuesday’s game against Port Jefferson, looked good early on but tempered things going forward since there is an entire second half of the season to be played.
“I’m happy where we are, but where we are means absolutely nothing. Our goal is to win the county championship, so first we have to make the playoffs,” he explained. “This was a terrific thing to be able to beat [Southold], but we know we’re going to have to play at least three games against them this season. We have one more at their place and then we’re most likely going to meet in the playoffs, and we know next time we see them it’s going to be a different team than what we saw on Saturday.
“There’s nothing that’s in the bag about this year,” Solow added. “That being said, we can be something special.”
Pierson junior Javi Tubatan got things started on Saturday when he directed a pass off his left foot into the goal to give his team a 1-0 lead just over five minutes in. Just 30 seconds later, sophomore David Moreno sent a free kick from midfield deep into Southold’s box. Pierson junior Jose Ulloa just got his head on the ball to bump it up and over the leaping Southold goalie to make it 2-0. Ulloa scored again just over a minute later off an assist from Pierson senior Brandon Winenga, and the rout was on.
All told, the Whalers had five different goal scorers on Saturday, with Ulloa leading the way with two. Tabatan, Moreno, senior Daniel Martinez and junior Halsey Burton each scored as well. Gavin Gilbride made five saves in goal for the Whalers.
What Solow liked on Saturday is that his team scored many of its goals off set pieces, such as corners and free kicks, something his team has not been particularly effective with as of late.
“We’re still very much a work in progress. A lot of things came together on Saturday. We were proficient with our set plays, we made a lot of solid passes to our own players, but we did have a couple of lapses. We still have difficulty with marking other players where we have a couple of guys out of position and that’s what led to Southold’s goal. But overall they were pretty good about covering each other and playing in a consistent way.”
Last week’s victory over Center Moriches is thought to be Pierson’s first victory over the Red Devils since 1995, Solow said, when Don McGovern, now the boys head soccer coach at East Hampton, was coaching at Pierson, which featured a young Eric Bramoff, Pierson’s current athletic director. But Solow said it was nice finally beating Center Moriches, which typically schedules Pierson for its homecoming game, as it did last week, where it feels strangely like a “ritual sacrifice.”
While playing in a mixed league with larger Class B schools such as Center Moriches, Babylon and Southampton, can be difficult, Solow said he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I would like nothing more to knock off all the “B” teams,” he said. “What’s so good about being in a mixed league is if we in play at counties or regionals, we’re going to have to play teams who I’m assuming are better than a lot of the “C” teams by us, so it gives us an advantage, even if we lose, because we’re going to be prepared for it. What I tell the guys all the time is we have to take it a game at a time and we can’t afford to look ahead. The biggest thing with us is trying to be consistent.”