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Charlotte Johnson, Pierson can exhale after securing Suffolk C title

Olivia Aupperlee #21, Paige Schaefer #16 Charlotte Johnson

Olivia Aupperlee #21, Paige Schaefer #16 Charlotte Johnson #99 and Sophia Bitis #6 of Pierson receive the winning plaque after defeating Port Jefferson in the the Suffolk Class C field hockey final at Patchogue-Medford High School on Tuesday. Credit: Daniel De Mato

Charlotte Johnson didn’t exhale until she saw the ball sail over the back of the net.

The Pierson goalkeeper wasn’t challenged often on Tuesday, but with just under two minutes on the clock she made her biggest save of the season. Johnson knocked the ball away, preserving the top-seeded Whalers' lead and lifting her team to a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Port Jefferson in the Suffolk C final at Patchogue-Medford.

“All I was thinking about was watching the ball, getting set and staying focused. I wanted to stay on my toes,” Johnson, who finished with three saves in Pierson’s fourth straight county title, said. “I was in the right spot.”

Pierson (5-9) controlled tempo throughout the game, taking the lead on Mahlia Hemby’s goal with 8:17 left in the first half, but the Whalers struggled to pad the cushion. By the final whistle, Pierson recorded 19 corners, scoring on just one and giving Port Jefferson (7-8) a chance to rally late.

“You could see the nerves,” Pierson coach Kim Hannigan said. “They’re young, they’re anxious.”

Pierson knew it left offensive opportunities on the field, but as soon as Johnson made the save and another championship was theirs, the Whalers couldn’t find it in themselves to be frustrated.

Pierson advances to the Long Island championship, against Carle Place on Nov. 3 at Berner Middle School and looking to capture its first win in the game since 2010.

“I’m so excited,” Johnson said. “We’re looking to get back to states.”

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