Playoffs Slip Away from Whalers Soccer Team

Pierson soccer coach Peter Solow speaks to his star forward Jorge Alvarado-Sanchez prior to facing Greenport last week. Gavin Menu photos

At a small school like Pierson, graduation can take a major toll on sports teams. Such is the case this season with the Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team, which graduated a talented group of seniors last spring. The Whalers now have lost six straight games and will not make the playoffs just one year after their appearance in the New York State Class C semifinals.

Pierson, Southold and Greenport are the only three schools in Suffolk County competing in Class C this season, and both Southold and Greenport were 6-3 as of Tuesday, so they are likely to meet for the county championship later this month. The Whalers as of Tuesday were 2-8 with just three games remaining.

Following a 5-2 win over Smithtown Christian on September 24, Pierson head coach Peter Solow said the coming week would be key to his team’s playoff hopes. What followed were losses to Southold, Port Jefferson, Center Moriches, Babylon, Greenport and Southampton. The most critical of those losses were a 4-3 setback to Port Jefferson on September 28 and a 3-0 loss to Greenport at home on October 4. The Whalers either led or were tied at halftime in both games.

“The kids we have are very nice kids, and they haven’t given up, but we had our season slip away when we should have won those games and we didn’t,” Solow said.

Goalie William Walker, a Bridgehampton student, has started all year and played well considering his lack of experience.

“At the beginning of the season, I thought this was going to be a tough season, and I was very concerned about the goalie situation,” he added, noting that first-year goalie William Walker has had to start every game. “Next year we have most of the team back.”

Pierson will play at Mattituck on Friday, October 12, at 4:30 p.m. and at Hampton Bays on Saturday at 11 a.m., before closing out the season at home on October 16 at 4:30 p.m. against Smithtown Christian.

The Whalers will lose only two seniors this year in Alex Weseley and Borys Zasada. Weseley has had a strong season, but the supporting cast has been shaky with injuries, absences and other factors causing disruption all season long, according to Solow.

Pierson senior Alex Weseley works his way through traffic against Greenport.

“The issue isn’t simply that we are going to miss the playoffs, but it’s the way we’ve been playing,” Solow said, pointing to a slew of unforeseen issues that worked against the Whalers all season. “All of these things, when you have a young team, they magnify the weaknesses of the team.”

Jorge Alvarado-Sanchez, the team’s best scorer, is only a junior and will lead a parade of returning starters next season that includes Mateo Barahona, Habtama Coulter, Nick DiRussa, Joey Badilla and Jessup Kunzeman, among others.

“The good news is to say okay, what did you learn, what do we have to do to get better and what level of commitment are you going to bring next year?” Solow said in closing. “I think there’s a lot of promise there. We’ll just have to see.”