Playing a high school field hockey game with only 11 players (and no substitutes available) is hard enough, as the Greenport/Southold Clippers know only too well. But playing with 10 players? And against a talented team like Pierson/Bridgehampton?
That was asking for a lot and, in retrospect, the 4-0 final score in Pierson/Bridgehampton’s favor on Friday could have been worse, from the Clippers’ perspective.
As it was, it was tough enough. The Clippers ran into a buzzsaw.
Stepping off the bus at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor, the Clippers, sporting their new purple and white striped sweatshirts, must have realized the magnitude of the task that laid before them. Pierson/Bridgehampton (6-4 overall and in Suffolk County Division III) has a proud history in field hockey, and the Whalers play an attractive, creative game, stroking the ball around their lush, manicured grass field.
But the Clippers’ job was made tougher in the first half when one of their best players, center midfielder Toni Esposito, went down with an injury to her right ankle and had to be carried off the field. They were trailing, 1-0, at the time.
The Clippers (1-9, 1-9), reduced to 10 players, played shorthanded for the remaining 46 minutes 56 seconds.
Pierson/Bridgehampton, which had lost three of its previous four games, received two goals from freshman Hollie Schleicher. After a period of sustained pressure, Clippers goalie Katie Tuthill kicked the ball, which ended up on Schleicher’s stick and she flung it in at 11:52 for a 1-0 lead. Schleicher later made it 4-0, striking with 1:35 to go in the game.
Pierson/Bridgehampton’s dominance was reflected in its advantages in shots (33-3), penalty corners (15-1) and long hits (6-0). The Whalers’ goalie, Charlotte Johnson, did not need to make a save for the shutout.
Meanwhile, the Clippers’ goal was under siege. Tuthill did her best to keep the score respectable. The junior was credited with 18 saves.
Ann Sherwood took 13 shots herself for Pierson/Bridgehampton and scored on one of them, flipping in a shot after a pass from Kerrie Villa 12:53 into the second half.
Calista Cafiero, assisted by Paige Schaefer, made it 3-0 just 4:50 later.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Clippers, who have been outscored by 21-2 during the winless streak.