By Gavin Menu
Playing the first game of a new season prior to school being in session is a rare occurrence, and a challenging one at that, Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer coach Peter Solow said after his team escaped Rocky Point with a 2-1 victory on Saturday to begin a new year of Pierson athletics.
“It’s been a tough season so far because the kids are still working at their summer jobs. The logistics are really crazy,” Solow said on Monday, two days before the first day of school. “We’ve had to struggle with organizing practices, and kids not being available for practice.”
The Whalers have also been dealing with some preseason injuries, but had enough firepower to overcome Rocky Point with first-year goalie Kevin Feliciano, a Bridgehampton student, coming through with 12 saves and a pair of goals from Sam Warne and Cameron Burton, who scored late to break a 1-1 tie.
The Whalers will begin their run through the League VIII schedule with a home game against Stony Brook on Friday, September 11, at 4:30 p.m. The team is also in the midst of a challenging non-league schedule, with upcoming games against Southampton, Westhampton Beach and Mattituck. The Whalers faced Class B powerhouse Center Moriches on Tuesday, and lost 3-2.
“They scored three consecutive goals. We came back with a goal with about 20 minutes left and I think we outplayed them for the last 10 minutes,” Solow said. “We were pretty banged up at the end of the match, but we’re a pretty tough team.”
The Whalers are led this season by a strong core of returning players, including Burton and Jesus Padilla, the team’s senior captains, and Warne, a sophomore with tremendous athletic ability. Charlie Pintado, Mats Grebenstein and Johann Cardenas, all juniors, along with seniors Andrew James, Thomas LaGrassa and Wilver Garcia-Juarez will be key to the Whalers’ success, according to Solow.
“We lost one all-county player and two or three all-conference players,” Solow said about last year’s team, which fell to Southold in the Suffolk County Class C final. “We lost kids who were critical to our team. But we have a lot of quality players who are back. Whether or not we’ll go far remains to be seen.“
Rounding out the varsity roster are juniors Sam Anderson, Will Gawronski and Max Washburn and sophomores Josue Cruz and Ethan Tanner, although Solow expects a handful of players to join the team now that school has begun.
The Whalers will deal with the usual obstacles on their league schedule, with teams like Greenport, Southold, Port Jefferson and Smithtown Christian presenting the biggest challenges.