With only two games on their home field this season, for myriad reasons Pierson field hockey players felt it was vital they win both.
So far, they’re one for one.
Hosting much larger Class B school East Islip this past Saturday, the Whalers (6-2 in Division II) scored a pair of second-quarter goals to erase an early 1-0 deficit and win, 2-1.
Pierson senior Brooke Esposito scored what ended up as the game-winner with 1:38 remaining in the first half, when she threw a shot in from the top of the circle that found the back of the cage.
East Islip’s Sarah Smalley had given her team a 1-0 lead in the first quarter, but that seemed to light a fire underneath the Whalers, Esposito said after the win.
Madison Stuckart tied the game early in the second quarter after Eleana Morola’s initial shot trickled through the legs of East Islip goalie Chelsea Dodenhoff. Stuckart, a junior, was there to clean it up.
“We all wanted to win this. It was, like, we only have two games here, we’ve got to win them,” Esposito said, with a laugh.
Esposito said anything can happen on the grass surface behind Pierson High School, so she just wanted to aim for the goal and see what happened next. “It could bounce, hit someone’s foot, hit somebody’s stick … anything,” she said. “I was just trying to put it on goal.”
Pierson’s win over East Islip was its sixth straight, which included a big 5-1 victory at Shoreham-Wading River on March 25 and a 4-0 victory at Hampton Bays on March 23.
The players said the team has definitely found its groove.
“It’s definitely exciting, because a lot of us are sophomores,” sophomore Meredith Spolarich said. “Brooke is a senior, sadly, but it shows us, the next few years, we’re definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with, and we’re excited for what’s to come, because we can see it coming together.”
Pierson head coach Nina Hemby said she liked what she saw from her team on Saturday, specifically that it didn’t back down when things started to get a little chippy on the field.
“They’re really starting to play as a team, and their field vision is getting very good,” she said. “They’re working hard, and I think today, having a little push and shove out there and a little banter happening, really unleashed some fire in my kids, which is exciting. It’s showing what they’re capable of, and all of these games — playing the Bs and beating the Bs — is boosting their confidence, which is exactly what they need, again, because they’re so young.”
With the only winning record among fellow Class C teams, Pierson is by far the top team in the class in Suffolk County this season and is tentatively scheduled to play for the county championship April 21, with the possibility of playing for a Long Island Championship on April 24. There is no state tournament this season.