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Sep 3, 2019 10:36 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Pierson Field Hockey Set To Defend County Title; Southampton, Hampton Bays Look To Take Steps Forward

Sep 3, 2019 3:11 PM

The Pierson field hockey team will have a new leader on the sidelines this season, as it tries to defend its Suffolk County Class C title.

Former varsity assistant coach Nina Hemby has stepped into the head coaching position after Kim Hannigan decided to step down to spend more time with her family. Hemby is as familiar with the Lady Whalers program as anyone, which should make it a smooth transition. She worked as Hannigan’s assistant for the last two years, and was a standout defender for Pierson during her time as a student-athlete at Bridgehampton High School. Hemby, a 2011 graduate, played an instrumental role on the team that made it to the state tournament in 2010.

Hemby inherits a team that is defined by youth, with only two seniors, one junior, and a slew of freshmen, sophomores and middle-schoolers on the roster. The biggest loss to graduation was in goal, as Charlotte Johnson, a longtime starter and All-County player, is now at Duke University. Hemby’s younger cousin, Mahlia Hemby, a senior, is ready to step into the starting role there after time as a backup goalie last season. The younger Hemby played the field last year as well, and was a goal scorer, so the Lady Whalers will need some younger players to step up and emerge as scorers, especially because Pierson lost another key scorer and playmaker, center midfielder Paige Schaefer, to graduation. Schaefer was an All-Conference player and longtime varsity starter. She’s now playing at Lehigh University. Pierson also lost defenders Olivia Auperless and Sophia Bitis to graduation.

Returning on defense are three solid players in sophomore Micky Wilson and freshmen Meredith Spolarich and Mia Gangemi. Coach Hemby expects them to anchor the defensive line.

In the midfield, senior Joyce Arbia and freshman Emma Racelles are solid returning players, while the forward line will showcase plenty of new faces, with a large group of freshmen, a few of whom are returning to varsity, expected to step up.

Pierson was ranked ninth out of 14 teams to start the preseason, after finishing ninth last year with a 5-9 record. The Lady Whalers are one of four Class C teams in Division II, along with Babylon, Port Jefferson and Southold/Greenport.

Hemby said she is looking forward to the new chapter as varsity head coach.

“I spend a lot of time with them, so I think our communication and chemistry works really well,” she said. “And I think we’re really trying to create a strong team since we’re so young. We’re really looking to continue to improve, improve, improve and build strong players out of this next generation.”

Pierson will open the season at home against Greenport/Southold on September 10 at 4:30 p.m.

Southampton

Unlike Pierson, Southampton has a senior-heavy team this season, and head coach Jackie Trelease, in her fourth year at the helm of the program, is hoping having an experienced roster pays off. The Lady Mariners went 5-9 and did not make the playoffs as a Class B team last season, and are ranked seventh out of 14 teams to start the year. The top six teams advance to the playoffs at the end of the year.

Southampton returns its entire starting lineup except for last year’s starting goalie, Nicole Gutierrez. Trelease will have additional help on the sidelines as former varsity head coach Jessica Zukosky has returned to work as an assistant coach. Zukosky was an assistant coach on the team in the final years of legendary coach Chris Holden, when Trelease was a standout player on a powerhouse Lady Mariners team in the mid-2000s.

The Lady Mariners are both experienced and deep this year, with a squad of 33 players, the most Trelease says the team has had in a long time. A trio of senior captains will lead the team. All-County player C.C. Wetter, who has been a varsity starter since eighth grade, will be a standout player along with Juliana Stein and Emma Wesnofske (All-League). Another All-League senior, Morgan Fullam, will also be a key player. All four have been on varsity since eighth grade.

Senior midfielder Sydney Miller, senior defender Sarah Ritz, sophomore defender Lucy Wesnofske and sophomore forward Lauren Halsey are four more returning players who Trelease is expecting big things from this year as well.

Trelease is hoping her team can out-play its ranking and finish high enough to compete for a playoff spot. It’s a trickier task to do in field hockey because of the power rankings system, which does not exist for most other sports.

“If we want to succeed we need to out work and outsmart the teams ahead of us and make sure we don’t get caught up on teams ranked below as they will kill our power points,” she said. “I’m really going to be focused on my seniors. I expect a lot from them both in effort and just being role models for the younger girls. We have a lot of work to do if we want a shot at anything in our very competitive schedule. I don’t think there is a more competitive division in the state than the Suffolk Class B; anyone can beat anyone on any day of the week so we just have to work hard and show up on game days prepared.”

Southampton will open the season at Greenport/Southold Thursday, September 5, at 6 p.m. and will visit Comsewogue for a non-league game two days later at noon. The Lady Mariners are on the road for their first seven games, and will not have their home opener until September 24, when they host Sayville at 4 p.m.

Hampton Bays

The Hampton Bays field hockey program has not seen much success in terms of wins over the past few years, but head coach Kaitlin Cooper is hoping this year’s team can prove the program is headed in the right direction.

The Lady Baymen lost three senior starters to graduation, but bring back several experienced players. Tara Brochu, an All-Division forward last year, returns along with defender Emily Peyton. Returnees Mia Mielenhausen and Bryona Hayes will also be strong players in the midfield, while senior Gia Antieri should be counted on for scoring along with Brochu, a junior, and Emma Naclerio. The pair were the team’s leading scorers last year.

Goalie Abby Hoffmann returns to the cage after recovering from an injury.

Cooper said her goals for the season are simple but clear.

“My goal every season is to do better than the season before, but I think we have a good chance this year to prove to the field hockey community that Hampton Bays is rebuilding and ready for action,” she said. “Along with winning one more game than last season I want my athletes to have fun and love the sport.”

Hampton Bays opened the season with a non-league game at home against William Floyd on Wednesday and will host Copiague this Thursday, September 5, in another non-league game at 4:30 p.m. before visiting Pierson on September 12 for a 4:30 p.m. game.

East Hampton

The East Hampton field hockey team will try to focus on overall improvement after a 9-5 campaign in Division II last year. The Lady Bonackers lost five key players to graduation, including captains Cate Wicker, Emily Hugo and Kate Ward, along with defenders Rianna Helier and Alexis Yurkewitch. But there are several strong players returning, including All-Division senior goalie Tia Weiss, senior midfielder Kailey Marmeno, and senior defender Olivia Davis, as well as junior center back Anna Hugo. Head coach Nicole Ficeto expects Delilah Desmond and Hanna Medler to lead the team on offense, with Anna Hugo and Marmeno anchoring the midfield. Weiss and Davis should anchor the team on defense.

"Overall we are looking to continue developing the field hockey program," Ficeto said. "And to encourage the players to play as a team and institute the two-touch style game. We want to continue to focus on and develop fundamentals and to work together to compete with highly skilled teams who have players who generally play year-round."

Ficeto said she expected Rocky Point, Miller Place and Harborfields to be the most competitive teams her squad faces this season.

East Hampton will start the season at Rocky Point on September 10 at 4:30 p.m.

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