By Gavin Menu
The postseason fate of the Pierson-Bridgehampton field hockey team this week was in the hands of Section XI, Suffolk County’s governing body of athletics, after the Whalers failed to finish in the top six of the Division III standings following two losses to top-ranked teams to end the regular season.
The Lady Whalers had a narrow hold on sixth place following a 3-0 loss to undefeated, division-leader Miller Place at home on Saturday, but a 2-1 loss to Rocky Point on the road Tuesday night dropped Pierson into seventh place with an 8-4 record behind Comsewogue, which picked up a big 1-0 win over third place Shoreham-Wading River on Tuesday.
Miller Place, Rocky Point, Shoreham, Southampton, Riverhead and Comsewogue will automatically qualify for the playoffs, either in Class A, B or C, because of their top-six finish. Rankings in the division are determined by power points, and Pierson’s total of 109.990 fell just short. The power rankings take into account things like strength of schedule, quality wins against higher ranked teams as well as unexpected losses against lower ranked teams.
Head coach Shannon Judge on Wednesday said she would petition the Section XI Seeding Committee for a playoff exemption and an opportunity to play rival Southampton for the Suffolk County Class C Championship on Tuesday, November 6 at Ward Melville High School. She said the ruling would come down tomorrow, October 26. If the Whalers are denied, Southampton would automatically become county champion.
“Because of the power ratings, petitions don’t usually go through,” Judge said on Wednesday. “But we beat Riverhead, we beat Southampton once and we beat Rocky Point once. We actually have a better record than Southampton.”
The Lady Whalers this season also beat the county’s only other Class C schools in Port Jefferson and Babylon, which both finished out of the top six in their divisions. Those wins coupled with Pierson’s split with Southampton, which finished 7-7 in division play, gives the Lady Whalers a 4-1 record against fellow Class C schools this year.
If the season does indeed come to an end, the Whalers would lose only one senior, Rachel Saidman to graduation. A strong junior class including Kasey Gilbride, Katherine Matthers, Emme Luck, India Hemby, Kirra McGowin and Emma Romeo would all return. Gilbride, in particular, has had a standout season and finished the regular season with the second highest individual scoring total on Long Island with 27 points on 20 goals and seven assists.
“I’m optimistic about the future,” Judge said, hoping that future includes a championship game against Southampton next month.