Northeast Girls' Regional Report (May 16)
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
Sarah Mannelly, New Canaan (Conn.)
Julia Glynn, Manhasset (N.Y.)
Kelsey Quackenbush, Manhasset (N.Y.)
Games to Watch
Garden City (N.Y.) vs. Manhasset (N.Y.) –
New Canaan (Conn.) vs. Darien (Conn.) – Potential
Andover (Mass.) at Londonderry (N.H.) – May 23, 5
1. St. Anthony's (N.Y.), 14-1
The Friars keep piling up the wins, ending their regular season Saturday with a 17-10 win over Sacred Heart Academy (N.Y.). St. Anthony's has won seven consecutive games following a loss to Bryn Mawr (Md.) in the Maryland-New York Challenge. With an undefeated record against Northeast teams, including a four-goal win over Garden State powerhouse Chatham (N.J.), there is no doubt the Friars are the cream of the Empire State crop. St. Anthony's turned up the heat most impressively in recent weeks, scoring 17 or more goals in three of its last four contests.
2. Farmingdale (N.Y.), 14-1
A home loss to Manhasset (N.Y.) raised some questions. Victories over Massapequa (N.Y.) and Darien (Conn.) answered them and spoke volumes about Farmingdale's prowess heading into the postseason. On the whole, the Dalers handled their difficult end-of-season schedule quite well. With the last six games of their regular season all coming against teams with at least 10 wins, they won five of those contests. All told, Farmingdale has put some offensive records in danger, scoring 17 goals or more in 11 of its 15 games. The Dalers tend to recover well from losses. They won 16 straight after their season-opening loss to Garden City (N.Y.) in 2011, and won 14 straight after their season-ending loss to Northport (N.Y.) in 2011.
3. Ward Melville (N.Y.), 15-1
An unbelievable stretch of close victories for the Patriots — four consecutive wins by less than three goals — kept alive the possibility of an undefeated season, but West Babylon (N.Y.) dashed those hopes with a 12-5 victory over Ward Melville in the regular-season finale. Still, the Patriots have a lot to be proud of. After a rocky 11-7 campaign in 2011, Ward Melville was able to reverse its fortunes this season, defeating six teams in 2012 that it lost to last season. Behind all of the Patriots' success was a stingy defense that surrendered double-digit scoring on just two occasions in 2012.
4. West Genesee (N.Y.), 14-1
This season hasn't featured much in the way of local competition for the Wildcats. Outside of a one-goal loss to Mendham (N.J.) and a one-goal win over Christian Brothers (N.Y.), it has been an easy road for West Genesee. Nine of the Wildcats' 14 games this season have been decided by at least eight goals. They'll certainly find stiffer competition outside of their section, as they did last year, when the Wildcats lost their final game of the season to Pittsford (N.Y.).
5. New Canaan (Conn.), 15-0
The gap between the Rams and the rest of their Constitution State competition isn't great. A two-goal win over Greenwich (Conn.) and a one-goal win over Darien (Conn.) prove that point. But give New Canaan its due: the Rams won their first 15 games to begin their 2012 campaign. After two close losses to Darien last season, including a 9-7 loss that put an end to their postseason journey, the Rams still will be looking over their shoulders, but this year's win should give New Canaan plenty of confidence. The Rams remain one of the best turnaround stories in the region, after their 13-8 campaign in 2011. New Canaan's 19-7 victory over Yorktown (N.Y.) on Saturday marked its sixth win over a team that beat it last season.
6. Manhasset (N.Y.), 12-4
It didn't seem likely the Indians would climb the ladder of Empire State competition so quickly, but a late-season run has made Manhasset one of the teams to fear in the Northeast. After starting their season with three losses in their first seven games, the Indians compiled five straight wins, including a 16-9 victory over Darien (Conn.). But Manhasset saved its best work for last, downing Farmingdale (N.Y.) and Garden City (N.Y.) in the final week of the regular season.
7. Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.), 17-1
Some may have thought Lincoln-Sudbury's 13-12 victory over Westwood (Mass.) in the season opener was a fluke. It wasn't. The Warriors went on to win their first eight games, and following a 14-10 loss at Notre Dame Academy (Mass.), went on to win their next eight. Their offense has been unfathomable, reaching the 20-goal mark on nine separate occasions. The Warriors still have some hoops to jump through, however, as Westborough (Mass.) and Longmeadow (Mass.) lurk at season's end.
8. Notre Dame Academy (Mass.), 17-1
The Cougars have been terrific in 2012, as Leslie Frank's daughter has clearly inherited her family's greatest heirloom: tremendous coaching ability. With a 13-11 loss at Andover (Mass.) the only blemish of 2012, Notre Dame Academy has emerged as one of Massachusetts' best. Two wins over Norwell — one of only two teams to edge Notre Dame Academy last season — show how far the Cougars have come. They should end the regular season with a 19-1 record, and their most spectacular work may have yet to come.
9. Needham (Mass.), 16-1
The Rockets have played 16 in-state games this season. Their record? Well, they have won every single one of them. Needham's only loss came against Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.). Against state competition, most impressive was a two-goal win at against Westwood (Mass.), which was coming off a strong performance against Londonderry (N.H.). Needham should enter the postseason with a 19-1 record and lot of confidence, after avenging its only three losses from last season, defeating both Westwood (Mass.) and Wellesley (Mass.).
10. Westwood (Mass.), 15-2
Even after a loss to Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) in its season opener, Westwood (N.Y.)'s presence on this list should not surprise. The Wolverines have been one of the best teams in Massachusetts for a long time. Westwood reminded fans of its prominence Monday, topping Londonderry (N.H.), one of the top teams in the region, 20-3. This may not be a successful year by Westwood standards — the Wolverines' two losses are their most in a season since 2007 — an 11-game win streak has put Westwood right back in the thick of things.
News and Notes
Longtime Boys' Coach Makes Transition for North Shore
"I've never coached girls," Jeff Butt reminded his athletic director as they discussed who would coach North Shore (N.Y.)'s girls' lacrosse team while Sarah Hogan went on maternity leave.
"You know what: They're athletes. Just coach them," his athletic director responded.
And so began an odyssey that has seen the Vikings finish their regular season with a 12-3 record.
"I finally made a decision to take over for Sarah and I've really enjoyed it," Butt said. "It has been a great experience. This group of girls is absolutely amazing, just with their attitude, their work ethic; they're very close to each other. They're a very tight team so that made my decision much easier to take over the program just because of their work ethic."
Of course, the adjustment took time for Butt, who has spent nearly 20 years coaching boys' lacrosse.
"It took me a while just to understand the rules and go through the rulebook," Butt said. "I must have read it 80 times just to see how different it is, and to be honest with you, it's not that much different."
He need not have spent all that time reading the rulebook. He cited an older, female referee who explained to him there were only two main differences between boys' lacrosse and girls' lacrosse.
"The one difference is that the name of the game is different," Butt said. "One is girls' lacrosse and one is boys' lacrosse. The other piece of advice she gave me is that the only other thing that's different is the depth of the pocket in the stick, so a lot of the boys' lacrosse game does transfer over into the girls' game."
With different rules came different players, but Butt said he was prepared for that too.
"I've been teaching at North Shore for 19 years, going on 20, and to be honest with you, there's a handful of girls on this team that I had in kindergarten as their physical education teacher, so I've known these girls for a long, long time," Butt said. "They've known me. I've coached a lot of their brothers in either football, lacrosse or wrestling so they kind of knew me and knew what I was about and knew what they were getting into having me as their coach so it was a very smooth transition."
Pressure of Undefeated Season May Have Impacted Patriots
Ward Melville (N.Y.) was one game away from an undefeated regular season after an 11-7 finish in 2011. Don't think they weren't aware of it.
"They were focused on really wanting to be undefeated," coach Kerri Kilkenny said. "It would have been something pretty historical. I honestly can't remember the last time that we were undefeated and I think, unfortunately, the girls maybe let that get into their heads a bit."
Ward Melville's undefeated run was stomped out by West Babylon (N.Y.), as the Eagles downed the Patriots, 12-5.
"West Babylon had a lot going for them," Kilkenny said. "It was their last game. Their senior night. Their night game. They had the undefeated team that they were playing, and you know, how awesome would it be for them to beat us? They were certainly on a high and unfortunately they took that and they dominated with it."
As good as West Babylon was on Friday, Kilkenny said Ward Melville was not at its best.
"We were a bit out of sync and just couldn't really get things together unfortunately," Kilkenny said. "West Babylon came out strong and they came out tough and they capitalized on all of our mistakes unfortunately and we made a lot of mistakes that they were able to take advantage of."
While the Patriots' loss in their regular-season finale certainly wasn't pleasant, Kilkenny said it could have been worse.
"That is exactly what we told the girls Friday night and we reiterated to them (Monday): 'You're all allowed that one off game or whatever you want to call it,'" Kilkenny said. "I'm glad that it happened when it didn't really necessarily count as far as it didn't change standings at all. It had no recourse on us."
Kilkenny said she hopes her girls got losing out of their system on Friday. Future losses will have a much heavier recourse.
"I told the girls, 'Better now than when it's what we call one-and-done,'" Kilkenny said. "One loss in two weeks or next week, we lose and we're handing in our uniforms the next day, so I think the girls, they got the unfortunate taste of defeat and they know how it feels and they don't want that to happen again anytime soon."
Experienced Defense Spurs Ward Melville's Turnaround
Ward Melville (N.Y.) has had a remarkable season — one that has surprised even its own players.
"To be quite honest, we were talking last week before our West Babylon game," Kilkenny said. "A lot of them did not even necessarily think that this was going to be where we were going to be."
It's not that Ward Melville didn't dream big. It's just that following an 11-7 finish in 2011, it would have been hard to predict that the Patriots would defeat six teams in 2012 that they lost to last season en route to a 15-0 start.
"Certainly, we had high hopes and felt like this could be our year, but going into the last week of your season being undefeated, a lot of the girls were like, "Wow, we actually did this and were able to keep it going,'" Kilkenny said. "Regardless of our one loss, they're so proud of themselves. They've pleasantly surprised themselves."
Ward Melville knew it had a shot in 2012 due to an experienced defense, whose core consisted of two seniors and two juniors, all of whom played on last year's team. Thus far, their experience has paid off, as the Patriots have surrendered double-digit scoring on just two occasions, with 10 goals surrendered to East Islip (N.Y.) and 12 goals surrendered to West Babylon. Last season, they surrendered 10 or more goals on six separate occasions.
"The fact that they were consistent for the past two years, it's hard to find with most teams, having an entire unit back. My entire defense came back from last year, as well as both of my goalies. That was huge in our favor this year," Kilkenny said. "We have two senior leaders in there, in Lizzy Rullan and Jordan Porretto, and they really set the tempo. They really set the pace. They're tough, they're feisty and they're aggressive and you know they're going to do their best not to let anything get by them."
Meanwhile, Emma Jehle and Emily Ross have paced the cage for Ward Melville. Even though the sophomore, Jehle, has started over the junior, Ross, the duo has gotten along quite well.
"They both have stepped up nicely in big games. They have had some great saves in high pressured games that we needed," Kilkenny said. "They're so supportive of one another. It's nice to see. Like I said, I have the sophomore that is starting over the junior so it's nice to see the support that they give each other."
Both Jehle and Ross have been bolstered by the team's attitude: goalies ought to count their saves, not their goals. Kilkenny said senior leadership on the defense has tried to build that philosophy among the team's goaltenders.
"Regardless of age, I think they all work together back there, but I think the senior leadership and the senior experience has really helped," Kilkenny said. "They've helped her along and they encourage her and they hone on her, 'Count your saves and not your goals.' That's always the philosophy we put with our goalies is count your saves and let that one go. Put it in the past and move on to your next play."
With some shooting drills that her team runs in practice, particularly ones with no defense, Kilkenny reminds her goalies that such drills aren't necessarily for them. While she would love for her goalies to make a few saves, she said she doesn't want her goalies to get mentally down on themselves.
As the Patriots look to the playoffs, they have balanced out lacrosse and team bonding activities.
"It's been so much fun this season. It's been quite a ride, just the fact that we graduated two seniors from last year but we came back pretty much the same team," Kilkenny said. "This week, we're doing a lot of focusing on next week yet balancing it with some team bonding activities so it's nice. Sometimes hanging out with 25 girls for three months can be a little wild and crazy, but it's actually been a really fun, enjoyable season."
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