CICERO, N.Y. -- The pressure of two overtimes and shootout rounds, particularly for a first-year goalkeeper, can be overwhelming. Even more so for one who, admittedly, is fearful of these exact scenarios.
And in the field hockey state tournament, no less. It was enough to make Samantha Duchemin flip out!
"Eh, I'd give it at 7," teammate and former gymnast Erica Selyukova said with a grin. "It's tough with the goalie gear, but I deducted some points for form."
That was the critique of Duchemin's twirling 180 cartwheel . . . after the junior's booming kick save secured Pierson/Bridgehampton's thrill- ing 2-1 shootout victory over Whitney Point Saturday in a state Class C semifinal.
"I don't even like practicing one-on-ones, so I was nervous," said Duchemin, who made seven of her 14 saves in the shootouts. "I settled down, but I was definitely relieved when it was over."
Weren't they all? The Whalers (15-4) are headed to the final -- as they did in 2010 -- to face Cazenovia at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, seeking the program's first state crown.
Kasey Gilbride, India Hemby and Ana Sherwood scored in the second shootout, which Pierson won 3-1. Katherine Matthers and Hemby scored in the first, which was a 2-2 draw, after two scoreless overtimes.
The shootout, implemented this season in lieu of penalty strokes, pits an offensive player against the goalie with 10 seconds to score. "We hadn't been in one before and we rarely practice it," Hemby said, "so this is unbelievable. Our dream is becoming a reality."
Yeah, and don't sleep on the defender's offensive skills. Hemby drove left, deked the goalie, then used a reverse to score from 5 yards to put the Whalers up 2-1.
"This game was crazy," Selyukova said. "It required more mental toughness and defensive discipline than any of us had expected. But we pulled through."
Leane Bough gave the Eagles (14-5) an early lead, but Emme Luck tied it for Pierson, scoring off a squib pass from Matthers 10:42 before halftime. Whitney Point controlled the second half, but the Whalers defense held. Allura Leggard disrupted four fast breaks and forced turnovers on three penalty corners.
And Duchemin was an acrobat -- in the cage. She had four saves in the second shootout, including two sliding stops. "She's a pitcher," coach Shannon Judge said. "She has that innate ability to focus in pressure situations."
Duchemin helped lead the softball team to the state semifinals last spring, though the Whalers lost.
Well, this time she flipped the script.