Whalers Think Championships as Fall Season Begins

Samantha Cox returns for her junior year to help lead the Pierson-Bridgehampton volleyball team. Photos by Michael Heller

It was a season of firsts for the Pierson-Bridgehampton girls volleyball team in 2017, including Suffolk County and Long Island Class C titles and a trip to Glens Falls for the New York State championships, where the Lady Whalers’ dream season came to an end in pool play.

The volleyball team, which lost just one player to graduation in outside hitter Leigh Hatfield, leads a promising group of teams and individual athletes from Pierson High School this fall. The boys soccer team will also defend Suffolk County and Long Island championships after it advanced to the state semifinals last season. The Pierson golf team lost a big chunk of its roster, but has reloaded and looks to defend its League VII title from a year ago.

The Pierson field hockey team is young, but returns two standout athletes in seniors Paige Schaefer and Charlotte Johnson. The cross country teams are young and talented, but have moved up from Class D to Class C, which will be more challenging. Rounding out a busy fall season, Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton athletes will compete this fall on East Hampton High School’s girls tennis team, which started the season with a 6-1 win over West Islip on August 30, and the girls swim team, which includes Pierson standouts Catalina Badilla, Kiara Bailey-Williams and Eva Doyle.

Here’s a look at some of the early season highlights.

The Pierson-Bridgehampton volleyball team, pictured after defeating Stony Brook last year for the Suffolk County Class C championship, returns all but one player for the 2018 season. Michael Heller photo

Volleyball Looks To Take Next Step

Winning Suffolk County and Long Island championships was a big step for the Lady Whalers volleyball team, but competing at the state level is a whole other story. Pierson finished 1-5 in pool play against Portville, Millbrook and Voorheesville, schools with experience playing at the state level.

The good news is that despite the loss of Hatfield, last year’s Pierson valedictorian who is now in her freshman year at the University of Virginia, the Lady Whalers bring back a strong core of players led by seniors Hannah Tuma, Sophie Borzilleri, Celia Barranco and Aziza El. Freshman setter Sofia Mancino, sophomore Gylia Dryden and juniors Sam Cox and Olivia Cassone all played key roles for the Lady Whalers last year.

“The girls have been playing ball all summer and working hard to prepare for this season,” said head coach Donna Fisher, who led the team in its first league game against Mattituck on Wednesday after press time. “I keep reminding the girls that we are the team to beat and not to take anything for granted.”

The roster is rounded out by Caleigh Hochstedler, Angela Gardella, Lilith Bastek-Ochoa and Iaiela Saldivar. Pierson will compete in League VIII, as a Class C school, where the biggest changes are the removal of Stony Brook, which decided to leave Section XI athletics and compete as a private school, and the placement of Mattituck, a Suffolk County Class B finalist in girls volleyball last season, in Class C and League VIII.

Pierson’s next game is Friday, September 7, at Center Moriches at 6:15 p.m., followed by a road game at Southampton on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Jorge Alvarado, fighting for the ball in the New York State Southeast Regional Final against SS Seward last fall, returns this season to lead the Pierson boys soccer team. Michael Heller photo

Soccer Will Compete, Girls Alone in Class C

Pierson’s boys soccer team had its most successful season in school history last year, with a near-perfect 13-0-1 record in League VIII on its way to Suffolk County and Long Island Class C championships and its first-ever appearance in the New York State Championships.

The team took a big hit at graduation with half of its lineup comprised of seniors including All-State midfielder Sam Warne, starting goalie Will Martin and other stalwarts like Josue Cruz, Grady Burton, Luis Padilla, Santi Gonzalez, Javi Lopez and Ariel Quiros.

Returning to lead the Whalers this season are co-captains Alex Weseley, Jorge Alvarado and Borys Zasada. Joining a deep group of underclassman is a talented junior transfer in Mateo Barabona, who is expected to be an impact player.

With the loss of Stony Brook and Mercy, which closed its school last spring, Pierson will compete in a reshuffled League VII with Babylon, Mattituck, Port Jefferson, Southold, Greenport and Smithtown Christian.

The Whalers opened the league season against Southold on Wednesday after press time and will travel to Port Jefferson for a 4:30 p.m. game on Friday, September 7, before returning home to face Babylon on Wednesday, September 12, also at 4:30 p.m.

Pierson’s girls soccer team is the only Class C school in Suffolk County and will compete with Class A, B, C and D schools in a power-ranked Division II. The Lady Whalers are ranked second-to-last, ahead of Smithtown Christian, and opened the season on Tuesday at Rocky Point. They will host Amityville on Thursday, September 6, at 4:30 p.m.

Pierson goalie Charlotte Johnson made 18 saves in a losing effort against Carle Place in the Long Island Class C Championship game last year. She returns to lead Pierson for her senior season. Gavin Menu photo

Field Hockey Rebuilds Around Schaefer, Johnson

For the second consecutive season last year, the Pierson-Bridgehampton field hockey team lost to Carle Place in the Long Island Class C Championship game. The Lady Whalers have lost a talented group to graduation, but returning as senior standouts are Paige Schaefer, who will anchor the midfield, and goalie Charlotte Johnson, who was named All-Long Island by Newsday last season and has officially committed to playing field hockey at Duke University next year.

“We’re rebuilding,” head coach Kim Hannigan said after practice on Monday. “In some key positions, we’re very young.”

The team’s only other seniors are Sophia Bitis, who is recovering from a serious knee injury and is expected to return in October, and Oliva Aupperlee. The team is stacked with young talent in eighth and ninth grade, Hannigan said.

Pierson’s first game was a non-league contest at Patchogue-Medford on Tuesday. The Lady Whalers, who are ranked sixth in Division II, will open division play at home on Thursday, September 6, against Greenport at 4:30 p.m.