It wasn’t the exact sendoff the Pierson-Bridgehampton field hockey team had in mind for seniors Brooke Esposito and Grace Perello, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying.
The Whalers (7-4 in Division II) suffered a hard-fought 2-0 loss to Miller Place on Senior Day this past Friday, in what was only their second and final home game of the season, played on the grass field behind Pierson High School. The girls have now lost three of their four games, but each of those losses have come to larger playoff-bound Class B schools.
Still, as Pierson head coach Nina Hemby said, it’s nice to beat the ‘B’ schools when a victory is within reach, and it was on Friday. The Whalers dominated possession in the first half of the match and had four corners to show for it, and didn’t allow the Panthers to have a corner at all.
But Miller Place came right out from the opening whistle of the second half pushing the action. Pierson stood tall in initially not allowing a goal — which included a big kick save by Perello, but with 3:39 remaining in the third quarter, Alexa Corbin sent in a shot from atop the circle. It appeared as though a Miller Place player may have deflected the ball, but either way it found the back of the cage to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. About a minute and a half later, Madison Power provided a key insurance goal to give Miller Place a 2-0 lead, and after a scoreless fourth, that wound up being the final.
“It’s important to beat the Bs and win, but it’s also important to lose and learn, and that’s what today was,” Hemby said. “We had possession the majority of the time in the first half. They did great, we just didn’t finish, and that’s something to learn from. You can play as hard as you want but you have to score to win.”
Hemby said what her two seniors in Esposito and Perello have added to the program is invaluable varsity experience that has gone a long way for what is a young team made up of mostly sophomores.
“They probably have been the biggest additions to the team, just age-wise and experience being on a team. High-pressure situations, knowing what to do, how to stay calm, composed. That has probably been the most important thing we’ve had on the team because we’re so young. We haven’t seen this intensity. They just bring up the spirit and the drive for the team, and that’s really important.”
Pierson finished its regular season on Tuesday at neighboring East Hampton, after which it will turn its attention to the postseason. The Suffolk County Class C Championship is currently set for Wednesday, April 21, at Centereach High School, but who Pierson will face is up in the air. The only other ‘C’ teams in the county are Babylon, Greenport/Southold and Port Jefferson. Those three teams only have two wins combined, with Port Jeff being winless, so it’s questionable as to whether there will even be a county championship played or if the Whalers will be given the title outright and then play the Long Island Championship against the Nassau County ‘C’ champ, in a match currently slated for April 24 at Berner Middle School in Massapequa.