With League Title in Hand, Whalers Turn Focus to Settlers

The 2014 League VIII Champion Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team.
The 2014 League VIII Champion Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team.

By Gavin Menu

The Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team clinched its second consecutive League VIII title with a 2-0 win over Smithtown Christian in miserable playing conditions last Thursday, October 23.

According to Pierson head coach Peter Solow, Thursday’s game, which was already postponed because of lightning, had to be played before that night’s Suffolk County coaches meeting so the teams had it out in steady, cold rain with the Whalers emerging with their 11th win of the season.

Senior Jack Fitzpatrick continued his torrid scoring pace with a goal and an assist, and with 36 total points ended the regular season trailing only James Thristino (39) of Comsewogue for the most individual points on Long Island.

Charlie Pintado also scored for the Whalers (11-1), who will face Southold for the Suffolk County Class C Championship on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Diamond in the Pines Park in Coram.

“To win the league two years in a row, it’s a big deal,” Solow said on Tuesday. “We’re trying to create a culture and a reputation, which we don’t yet have.”

The next big step for the Whalers would be to win Saturday’s county final, which is a rematch from a season ago when Southold dominated the action and advanced with a 5-2 victory. Solow was disappointed with his team’s effort in that game, something he and his returning players are hoping to reverse this time around.

“I think the guys that returned really did learn something from it,” Solow said. “Whether they will capitalize on what they learned is the question. We’ll find out on Saturday.”

Just like last year, the Whalers enter the playoffs coming off a stellar regular season. Over the last two years of league play, Pierson is 20-1-1, with its only loss coming earlier this season against Southold, which finished second in the league with a 10-2 record. The Whalers and Settlers finished with identical 11-5 records overall.

“We’re two evenly matched teams,” Solow said. “If you look at how many goals, they’ve scored and how many they’ve allowed, we’re right next to each other. It’s going to be a very, very tough competitive game.”

Over the last decade, three teams have battled for Class C supremacy but only Port Jefferson and Southold have won the ultimate prize, with the Settlers winning five of the last nine county championships and Port Jeff winning the other four. According to the Suffolk County Boys Soccer Coaches Association, the last soccer championship for Pierson came at the Class D level in 1995.

“As a coach, I want to give them every possible edge we can give them,” Solow said. “Because this opportunity may never come to them again, to be champions like this, and I don’t want them to spend the rest of their lives having regrets. Even if we lose, I want them to look in the mirror and say ‘I gave 100 percent out there.’ If they do that, I think we’ll win, but even if we lose, they can still live with that.”

The winner from Saturday’s game will advance directly to a state regional final against a team from either Section I (Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, Westchester) or Section IX (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster) back at Diamond in the Pines on Saturday November 8.

The state championships will be played at Middletown High School, just northwest of the Hudson Valley, over the weekend of November