By Gavin Menu
The writing was on the wall back in 2010 when then-freshmen Katherine Matthers and Kasey Gilbride helped lead the Pierson-Bridgehampton field hockey team on a charge through the postseason. The team fell short of a state title that year but a core of young players, which also included Kirra McGowin and Emme Luck, tasted championship hockey and looked toward a bright future in scarlet and black.
Flash forward to 2013 and those players are part of a senior class that is leading one of the most potent offensive attacks in Suffolk County.
Gilbride on Monday punctuated an emotional final home game of the season by scoring four goals in a 6-2 win over Sayville, which coming into the game was ranked second in the competitive confines of Division III field hockey.
Pierson head coach Shannon Judge said the win — Pierson’s fourth in a row — should lock up the top seed for the Suffolk Class C playoffs, which will begin this Monday with an out bracket game between second-seeded Southampton and whichever team finishes third, likely either Babylon or Greenport-Southold.
The Lady Whalers will await the winner in the Suffolk County Class C title game, which is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 31 at Dowling College at 6:30 p.m.
India Hemby, a senior from Bridgehampton who also played her final home game on Monday, had five assists against Sayville, which remained in second place despite the loss.
The Lady Whalers improved to 9-4 in division play and with 136.170 power points, are now in third place behind only Sayville and Miller Place.
Earlier in the week, on October 16, Pierson dominated cross-town rival East Hampton with a 5-0 victory over the Lady Bonackers and their coach, Robyn Bramoff, a former star player for Pierson. Gilbride scored three goals in the game and assisted on another, while Hemby and Luck also contributed goals toward the win.
Gilbride, who on Tuesday was tied with two other players for the most goals scored in Suffolk County with 18, also scored what turned out to be the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Harborfields back in Sag Harbor on Friday. She launched a shot into the back of the net with 16:05 remaining in the second half.
“It was a perfect bullet to the left corner,” Judge said about the goal, which was assisted by Hemby off a corner and gave the team a 2-0 lead.
Freshman Ana Sherwood, who is expected to lead the next generation of Lady Whalers hockey, opened the scoring with a beautiful goal early against Harborfields, which closed the game strong with a goal and a flurry of shots on Pierson keeper Sam Duchemin, who made six saves in the game, during a frenzied final few minutes.
Then on Monday, the team and its senior class, which also includes Emma Romeo, who went out with a season-ending injury earlier this year, gave the home crowd one last treat to take home from Mashashimuet Park, another dominant victory over a top opponent.
“I’ve had these girls since sixth grade, so for me as a teacher and coach, I’ve seen them grow up as people and athletes. They are very special to me,” Judge said about the seniors. “They all have intense energy with a desire to improve and win.”
The Lady Whalers will close out the regular season at Rocky Point tonight, October 24, at 6:30 p.m. If Southampton manages to advance to the Class C title game, it will be a rematch from last year’s county final, which the Lady Mariners won, 2-0.
In the wake of that loss, Gilbride instantly looked ahead to this season and said, “With our senior class next year, we are going to be a dominant team.”
As it turned out, that was an accurate premonition three years in the making.