September 20, 2006
Pierson Field Hockey Preview
Back to Back Titles for Whalers?
When you take over a team that has had as much success as the Pierson field hockey team has had, the expectations are certainly going to be high. Fortunately for Shannon Judge, who replaces longtime Whalers coach Debbie Jayne, the transition has been smooth while the prospects of another terrific season for Pierson remain high.
Pierson's superb stick squad returns prolific scorer Bethany Semlear, an All-County, All-Long Island and All-State selection last season as a junior. Semlear's senior season promises to be equally as impressive with an outstanding supporting cast that includes senior forward Anna Wilcoxen, junior midfielder/forward Jocelyn Kalish, junior goalkeeper Stephani Allen, senior defenders Jess Spehler, Kara O'Halloran, Kari Williams and Jordan Kosinski along with junior midfielders Laura Stafford and Alyssa Lantiere. Senior Melissa Mitchell is also a starting midfielder.
Chelsey Mitchell starts at right wing, Kayla Yardley, another strong Whalers player, mans the center forward position.
"Debbie [Jayne] left this program in a very good situation," said Judge. "She's been a great mentor. We have a very strong offensive line and Bethany [Semlear] is the focal point of it. This is a team that is very good at transition and we have a very strong returning defensive line as well. They save a lot of goals."
With only three players, Stafford, Kalish and Lantiere, on the junior varsity last season, the Whalers are once again deep in experience and talent as midfielders Dana Brockway and Sarah Mayer, forwards Samantha Federico and Lori Skinner, defenders Katelyn Steyert and Jocelyn Thommen as well as goalkeeper Corene Thommen round out the roster.
"Our stick-work as well as our passing on the field [are both strengths]," Judge said. "Bethany slices through the other team's defense with ease and she can either cross it or score. And our defense is very tough, so we're definitely a dominating force."
Pierson plays its first home game next Tuesday when the Whalers host Miller Place at 4 p.m. at Mashashimuet Park. It just might be the start of another historic season.