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Sep 4, 2017 2:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Field Hockey Preview: Different Look In Suffolk County This Season With Two Divisions Instead Of Three

Southampton's C.C. Wetter CAILIN RILEY
Sep 5, 2017 9:57 AM

The field hockey landscape across Suffolk County has changed a bit for this fall.

There will be just two divisions as opposed to last year’s three, with all of the county’s Class A schools (23) in Division I with the B and C schools (15) in Division II. For some schools that will be a welcome change, but not for one of the East End’s most storied programs in Pierson/Bridgehampton.

Returning this season as county champions and Long Island finalists, the Lady Whalers, one of just four Class C teams in the county, were seeded third in Division II. Not only does that mean they will have a tough schedule, playing the most competitive schools in the division on a daily basis, but it also means Pierson will not play any of its fellow Class C teams, since they were seeded so low.

That will make things interesting when the postseason rolls around. If Pierson’s record is below .500, it could petition to make the Class C playoffs since it played its season against larger Class B teams. But since they won’t be playing any Class C teams it will be tough to determine if the Lady Whalers should be in the Class C postseason or not.

Meanwhile, East Hampton, Hampton Bays and Southampton will be looking to finish in the top seven of Class B to qualify for the postseason.

Pierson/Bridgehampton

The Lady Whalers have taken on a much different look this season, not only on the sidelines but on the overall roster as well.

Former Southampton High School coach Kim Hannigan takes over for Bethany Semlear as head coach. She most recently led Molloy College into its first collegiate season last year and coached at Dowling College three years prior to that.

Leaving the program along with Semlear was the program’s top player in Ana Sherwood, who is now playing at Villanova. Cali Cafiero has also graduated, and Hollie Schleicher, who would have been a key player for the Lady Whalers this season, no longer attends Pierson having transferred to Westhampton Beach.

While those losses will be felt, there are plenty of players returning that will fuel Pierson. Center back Paige Schaefer and goalie Charlotte Johnson are both entering their junior seasons and will be key to the team’s success. Midfielders Ava Lantiere, a junior, and Claudia Patterson, a senior, will have roles on the team, as will seniors Catherine Spolich on defense and Autumn Street at right wing.

As previously mentioned, Pierson is one of four Class C teams in Suffolk this season, along with Babylon, Port Jefferson and Southold/Greenport, but it will play against some of the toughest B programs in the county. That includes the top two seeds in Rocky Point and Miller Place.

Pierson got the season started off on the right foot, defeating cross-town rival Southampton, 1-0, in a non-league game on Friday. Lantiere scored the only goal of the game with about 9:30 remaining in the game off an assist from eighth-grader Abby Sherwood, Ana’s younger sister, who made her varsity debut.

“As I told the girls, that was such an important game [to win],” Hannigan said. “We’ll have to see how Southampton does against the other three C schools. If they do well against them, we’ll have this win to give us something to talk about come postseason.”

Pierson played at East Islip on Tuesday and will play at Harborfields this Friday, September 8, at 4:30 p.m. It will host its first home game of the season on Thursday, September 14, against Sayville at Mashashimuet Park at 4:30 p.m.

Southampton

Head Coach Jackie Trelease (formerly Rattler) is hoping that the team has moved past its growing pains last season when the Lady Mariners finished 6-8 in what was her first year as head coach. Her team was ranked 11th out of 14 teams this season, but Trelease is hoping to exceed expectations, even with the losses of Shelby Fullam, a 15-goal scorer from last season, two-time All County player Shelby Pierson, and All-County Honorable Mention player Victoria Russo, all to graduation. Taylor Dellavolpe and Emily Mahoney also left via graduation. Those losses have left the team pretty young with just six seniors and two juniors, the rest being sophomores or freshmen.

Two of those six seniors will lead the team as captains in forward Karmen Friedman and All-Conference defender Samantha Wesnofske. Sophomore captain C.C. Wetter is moving from the defensive side of the field to midfield/forward. Trelease says Wetter is a year-round field hockey player, playing on the club team East End Field Hockey, and should provide a good boost on offense.

Other returning players include seniors Grace Lynch, Chloe Gavalas, Stella Shoenberg and Caitlyn Kreymborg and sophomore Emma Wesnofske.

Southampton looked to rebound from its season-opening loss to Pierson with a game against West Babylon on Tuesday. The Lady Mariners are scheduled to play at Babylon on Thursday, September 5, at 4:30 p.m. and will play Southold/Greenport at Greenport High School on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Hampton Bays

The Lady Baymen went winless last season and will head into this season with a new head coach in Kaitlyn Cooper. Karla Solano and Vanessa Farrell were both key pieces to the defense the past few seasons but have since graduated. Cooper is looking to make the team a bit more offensive-minded with the group that is returning. That includes senior forward Elaine Berglin, junior center midfielder Nicole Akten and junior forward Alondra Quiros. Senior goalie Elif Kalyoncu is also returning.

“We hope with our hard work and determination that we have a fun and successful season,” Cooper said.

The Lady Baymen lost their season opener, a non-league game, 4-0, at North Babylon on Friday; Kalyoncu made 14 saves in goal. They hosted Shoreham/Wading River on Tuesday and are scheduled to play at East Islip on Thursday, September 7, at 4:30 p.m.

Information on East Hampton’s field hockey team was not provided.

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