For the second time in less than two weeks, on Sunday residents of Sag Harbor assembled on Main Street to welcome home their sports heroes in a big celebration.
You might have read about the first one. That happened late in the afternoon on Wednesday, November 6. It was in the papers. The noise shook up the whole town for half an hour as the bus carrying the Pierson-Bridgehampton Lady Whalers field hockey team paraded through town on its return from Carle Place. The bus was accompanied by as many fire trucks and police car as the village could muster, and the lights flashing and the horns honking and sirens blaring let the girls know how happy the village was for what they did.
Pierson-Bridgehampton, 12 days ago, for that first parade, was celebrating its capture of the Long Island Class C field hockey championship. They had played Carle Place, for the title, and when Pierson’s Katherine Matthers scored the goal that gave Pierson a lead 3–2 in the final period, that was all she wrote.
Well, here were the fans late Sunday night, waiting for the arrival of these sports heroes from the final game of the season, which happened to be up at Syracuse. They were State Champions!
In an improbable series of three consecutive games against stellar teams, they beat every one of them—Pawling in double overtime, 1-0; Whitney Point, 2-1, after two overtimes and a double shootout; and finally, for the State Championship itself, Cazenovia, a team that won the title twice in the last three years and was heavily favored to win again. They just might have taken Bridgehampton/Pierson too lightly. They had eliminated them in the State Championship game in 2010. But this time they lost 1-0 in a double overtime.
Stars for Pierson-Bridgehampton in these three big final wins included Matthers, Kasey Gilbride, Sam Duchemin and all the rest of the team collectively, with Gilbride, Matthers and India Hemby being named to the All-Tournament team.
The Lady Whalers gave it everything they had all year, finished with a 16-4 record overall, and won Division, County, Long Island, Regional and State Championship titles.
Against Pawling, held at Pawling, Katherine Matthers scored off a pass from Kasey Gilbride with 5:36 left in the double overtime to put an end to what had been, until then, a scoreless tie.
Against Whitney Point in the state semifinals at Whitney Point, the hero was surely goalie Sam Duchemin, who batted off 14 shots on goal to give the Lady Whalers a chance against this great team. And they took advantage of it. Emme Luck’s goal brought the game to a 1–1 tie as the first half ended. Then, in that second shootout, Gilbride, India Hemby and Ana Sherwood scored to seal the win.
And in the final on Sunday, with all the marbles on the table, the Lady Whalers battled Cazenovia to a scoreless tie in regulation, with Duchemin batting away eight shots on goal. Then, with just 32.9 seconds left to go in the second overtime, Gilbride put a shot in the net and they were State Champs!!
And what a time that was when the girls came home late Sunday night, after the long drive down from Syracuse, with the noise a bit more muted for the folks who didn’t attend but nevertheless a great time.
There are close to 250 field hockey teams in the state. A team from the little whaling town at the eastern tip of Long Island is Number 1.