The Pierson/Bridgehampton boys soccer team lost its opener, 2-0, to Babylon at home on Thursday, September 5, but from what head coach Peter Solow saw, there will be better days ahead for the Whalers.
Making his first-ever start in goal, Pierson junior Nick Collage allowed a goal when he kicked the ball directly to Babylon’s Luca Giammarino, who scored easily with 14 minutes remaining in the first half. Collage nearly gave up another goal a few moments later, but made a nice save to maintain the one-goal margin.
Still, he was replaced in the second half by freshman Brandon Guanga, who was under constant attack and made a series of saves along with a number of physical assaults on the Babylon attack. Patrick Van Rossem finally broke through off a Lucas Montalto corner late in the second half to provide the game’s final margin.
“This is what we have to look forward to in terms of the quality of competition,” Solow said later. “There’s going to be teams that are going to be this quality or better.”
The Whalers learned that the hard way two nights later with a 7-0 loss at Southampton. Pierson was home against Greenport, a fellow Class C school, on Tuesday and will face Babylon again, this time on the road, on Saturday night at 7 p.m. A road game at Port Jefferson on Monday will be followed by a home match with perennial state powerhouse Center Moriches on Wednesday, September 18, at 4:30 p.m.
Collage and Guanga had not played goalie prior to this season and both are capable field players, so whichever way Solow and his staff decide to go, they will have one more able body to plug into the lineup. Pierson is playing a new system this year, and had only been practicing for a week prior to the season opener, so there is room for improvement. What can’t be taught, Solow said, is effort and athletic ability, both of which the Whalers have in abundance.
“All the stuff I saw we could improve upon is stuff we can control,” Solow said. “In terms of speed, we matched up really well with them.
“I think this team, in terms of quality of the guys, is comparable to the team that won the county,” Solow said about his team from two years ago, which advanced to the state semifinals. “It’s going to be very difficult in the league this year because we’re playing Center Moriches, and we’re playing Mattituck and Southampton.”