Despite the loss of four seniors, and longtime coach Kim Hannigan, Pierson/Bridgehampton’s field hockey team has its sights set on a fifth straight Suffolk County crown.
And first-year head coach Nina Hemby plans to lead them there.
“We want to continue building a strong program, and want to be part of a competitive program,” said Hemby, a Bridgehampton graduate who played for the Whalers, and competed for Long Island University before being an assistant for Hannigan the last two seasons. “I’ve been adjusting well. I know the girls, the school, the program. I feel like coaching with Kim was the most amazing partnership. She prepared me for what I was stepping into.”
The Whalers finished 5-9 last season before nabbing the program’s fourth straight Class C crown.
Hemby will be relying on help from senior goal-scorer and first cousin Mahlia Hemby, senior midfielder Joyce Arbia, and freshmen halfbacks Meredith Spolarich, Mia Gangemi, and Emma Rascelles.
“I’ll be leaning on them a lot,” Nina Hemby said. “They’re some of the stronger players.”
The coach said the partnership with her cousin will aid her in her role change.
“It’s been fun,” Hemby said of working with her cousin so far. “She definitely understands me, and she’s a leader. She can help me. She’s so good with the other girls.”
While the team is still young, and the coach would like to see some progress over the next couple of weeks, she remains confident in her Whalers’ potential.
“I’m sure we’ll see certain problems — that comes with being young — but I think there are a lot of contributors on the team as well,” Hemby said. “The team gets along really well. The chemistry is really strong. I think that’s going to be a big benefitting factor.”
Pierson/Bridgehampton has road scrimmages at Riverhead and Port Jefferson, which the Whalers topped in the Suffolk County final last year, before hosting Greenport/Southold in a season home-opener September 10 at 4:30 PM at Mashashimuet Park.
East Hampton’s Pluses And Minuses
The Bonackers graduated nine seniors from last season’s 9-5 team, five defenders, leading to some potential growing pains on the back end of the field this season.
Experienced players returning from East Hampton’s 17-person roster are senior midfielder Olivia Davis and junior wing Anna Hugo, who were starters on the team two years ago, and were part of six returners to last year’s team under then-first-year coach Nicole Ficeto, a 1992 graduate of East Hampton High School who played field hockey at Division I Davidson College.
Senior defender Emily Brewer will lead the young crop this season, but a big bonus is senior goalkeeper Tia Weiss returning to the cage, along with junior Rorey Murphy. If all others players return from last season’s roster, expect to see senior forward Remy Campbell, senior midfielder Kailey Marmeno, and sophomore wing Hanna Medler leading the charge on their respective sections of the field.
“We’ve developed so much as a team, and since I came up as a freshman I’ve met a bunch of really great girls — we lost some and we got some — but there’s been this constant energy on the field that’s helped to expand this program,” recent graduate Kate Ward said following East Hampton’s final win of the 2018 season. “We’ve all supported each other from our first day of practice to our last game, going as hard as we can, and I can’t wait to see what this team can do next year.”
The Bonackers have three scrimmages before their season-opener, a 4:30 PM away game at Rocky Point September 10.
Upside In Hampton Bays
Last year, head coach Kait Cooper was focused on a realistic goal of seeing her team improve following the loss of seven seniors to graduation. Coming into this season, the Baymen are down two defenders, but remain focused on continuing to rise from a 3-12 2018 record.
Returnees include senior center midfielder Mia Mielenhausen, and second-year players Kailyn Havens and Gia Antieri, both senior forwards, and Dulce Pina, a junior defender.
Hampton Bays has nonleague home games against William Floyd and Copiague Wednesday and Thursday, September 4 and 5, before traveling to Mashashimuet Park for a 4:30 PM game against Pierson/Bridgehampton September 12.