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Soccer: Brigham siblings share passion for goalkeeping

The Brigham family must have some intriguing dinner conversations.

How was your day?

Do you have a lot of homework?

Please pass the broccoli.

And about that goal you allowed today? You might have wanted to come out of the net just a bit earlier.

Soccer is always a topic at dinner, especially when you have sibling goalkeepers who start for their respective teams.

“All the time,” Hayley Brigham said.

“Every day,” her brother, Cole, said.

And not just at dinner.

“She drives me to school every morning, so we can talk about [goalkeeping],” Cole said.

Many siblings play the same sport, but few will take up such a technical position as goalkeeper. So, it is a plus to have someone in your household who can relate to you.

“It’s nice having someone to bounce something off all the time,” Hayley said. “I’ll watch his games and I’ll give him feedback and he’ll watch mine and give me feedback. We really help each other a lot. The little things that make such a big difference in the game.”

Likewise for Cole.

“It’s always nice to have someone looking from the outside,” he said. “When you’re in the goal, you can’t see exactly where you are and where the other player is. It’s nice to know how you have could have positioned better, which can only be seen by someone outside of the field.”

Both keepers have become vital performers for their teams.

Hayley, a senior, will backstop the top-seeded Southold/Greenport girls squad, which will meet No. 2 Stony Brook for the Suffolk County Class C championship Friday at Islip High School.

“In the short time I have seen her play I just leave her alone in the position,” coach Chris Golden said. “She has the background and the experience and the athleticism.”

Cole, a sophomore, is in his first season for the No. 2 Southold boys side, which will host third-seeded Greenport in the Suffolk Class C semifinals Wednesday.

“It’s always difficult when you’re dealing with a sophomore goalkeeper,” coach Andrew Sadowski said. “He certainly earned the position. But trying to push him along in his progression, maturity, it’s patience. I’m pleased with what he has done. He’s a really, really good kid. He’s very intelligent. He has learned a lot and he is very willing to work.”

The Brighams caught the goalkeeping bug as fourth-graders.

Hayley’s team needed someone in the net.

“There was a ball rolling in the box and I picked it up,” she said. “We won. I was hooked after that. I was never coming out.”

Cole attended a soccer camp in Peconic. “One day was goalie day,” he said. “There was one shot up high and I hit it over the crossbar. It was such a great feeling that I just stuck with it.”

They might be siblings, but their goalkeeping personalities differ.

The 5-5, 130-pound Hayley is a bundle of energy, Cole more reserved.

“I’ve been called the vocal goalie before, very loud and outgoing,” Hayley said with a laugh. “It’s working.”

The 6-foot, 145-pound Cole has learned to assert himself more vocally.

“Starting off this season and especially on JV, I wasn’t very vocal at all,” he said. “But my coaches, including Mr. Sadowski, would always just yell to me to keep on talking more … which has gotten me almost to the point of my sister, but I’m still not as loud as her.”

Not surprisingly, Hayley lives for the pressure. “If I make one mistake, I know that it could cost us the game, but I like having that pressure on me because it forces me to work even harder,” she said.

Both have endured challenges.

Hayley broke her scaphoid bone on her right wrist and played only five games this season. She was given the green light to return Friday.

“I rushed back from the doctor and I was on the soccer field right away,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting. I was in goal for the first time in five weeks.”

Said Golden, “Having her back for the county final is what I consider having the last piece of that puzzle for us being healthy, rested and ready to go.”

As a sophomore, Cole was a bit wary of shouting instructions to upperclassmen.

“When I was younger, I was scared that if I told them to do something they’d yell back at me,” he said. “But I found out they also want to get better.”

The Brighams hail from an athletic family. Younger brother Quincy, 12, a seventh-grader, runs cross country. The youngest brother, Grady, 7, a second-grader, plays soccer and yes, he is a goalkeeper.

“After one of my soccer games, he was with my sister, grabbed one of the soccer balls and was practicing diving,” Cole said. “I thought that was really cute and funny.”

Sounds like Grady’s getting a head start to continue the Brigham family tradition.

Top photo caption: Southold/Greenport senior Haley Brigham pulling in a ball during a game. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Second photo: Cole Brigham, the goalkeeper for Southold. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

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