The Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team charged all the way to the New York State Class C semifinals last season behind strong senior leadership and team chemistry that bordered on family. The bad news coming back this fall, of course, was those seniors had graduated, even while the tight-knit family aspect remained.
The Whalers bounced back from a tough 4-1 loss to Mattituck at homecoming on Saturday with a 5-2 road win at Smithtown Christian on Monday. Junior captain Jorge Alvarado-Sanchez scored four goals, and rested the final 15 minutes with his team set to play a grueling stretch of games during the remainder of the week.
“We haven’t put together a complete game all season, and we’ve been missing people,” Pierson head coach Peter Solow said on Tuesday. “But as a group, they’re very nice kids. Everybody folds together really nice. When you’re struggling, sometimes the first thing everyone starts to do is point fingers, but that’s not happening.”
The Whalers were 2-4 in League VII going into a critical game at Southold on Wednesday after press time. Port Jefferson will travel to Sag Harbor for a game at Pierson High School on Friday, September 28, at 4:30 p.m. and the Whalers will play at Center Moriches, one of the best soccer schools on Long Island, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“At the beginning of the season, we had a really tough time,” Solow said, specifically, about losses to Southold and Greenport, which might come back to haunt the Whalers come playoff time. “We were letting in two or three goals per game because our goalie and our defenders were still learning their positions.”
William Walker, a junior from Bridgehampton playing his first season of organized soccer, had a breakout game against Mattituck with 11 saves, some that involved dramatic collisions. Three of Mattituck’s goals came in the first 30 minutes of the game, at which point Solow shifted senior captain Alex Weseley to defense, which in years past was his natural position. The result was a 1-1 tie the rest of the way, with Pierson’s Coby Penefiel scoring his team’s lone goal.
“Alex has been terrific all season, playing really, really well,” Solow said.
Against Smithtown Christian on Monday, the game was never in doubt with Alvarado pounding in goals from his forward position. Nick DiRussa also scored a goal and Walker made six saves to snap a three-game losing streak.
“We now have our work cut out for us,” Solow said about the week ahead. “We need to win two out of three these games and it’s going to be an uphill battle.
“We are a much different team than last year’s team,” he added. “We have enough really skillful guys, but we’re still trying to find our identity and pull it all together.”