Keeling Pilaro scores winner as Southampton wins Class C final

Southampton's Keeling Pilaro scores on a penalty corner

Southampton's Keeling Pilaro scores on a penalty corner shot in the second half against Pierson/Bridgehampton in the Suffolk Class C field hockey final. (Nov. 12, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Keeling Pilaro is perhaps the most famous high school field hockey player in America. For the past year, controversy has swirled around the Southampton freshman, who is the sport's only male participant at the varsity level on Long Island.

Add this to the resume: county champion.

Pilaro scored the deciding goal as top-seeded Southampton beat No. 2 Pierson/Bridgehampton, 2-0, Monday in the Suffolk Class C final.

"We just put all the distractions behind us this season and played," Pilaro, 14, said. He took a penalty corner insert and, from atop the circle, sent a low liner that deflected in off a defender's stick with 16:32 left. "This is the most amazing feeling."

Meggie Gallo provided the cushion with 8:13 remaining for the Mariners (9-8), who last won a county title in 2003. Their defense, led by Gina Curreri and Caroline Ricca, didn't allow a shot on goal. "We didn't want anything getting by us," Ricca said, "and we did our job."

Emma Romeo had 11 saves for the Whalers (10-7).

Pilaro was allowed to play this season after an appeals panel last spring overturned a Section XI ruling that would have barred him on the grounds he was too skilled to compete against girls.

Southampton faces Friends Academy Tuesday in the Long Island final at Adelphi.

"We're going to Burger King to buy [cardboard] crowns," Gallo said with a chuckle. "We're gonna wear them in school."

After all, the Mariners are the queens (and king) of the county.

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