Coming off the most successful season in school history, the Eastport South Manor girls lacrosse team has a lot to live up to, and while losing six seniors to graduation, the team and its coaching staff believe that a repeat is not an unattainable goal.
The Lady Sharks won the program’s first-ever Suffolk County Championship in its first-ever appearance in the title game last year, downing top seed Hauppauge, 14-11. The Lady Sharks ran into perennial powerhouse Garden City in the Long Island title game, falling to the eventual state champions just days after winning the county title. The state crown was the seventh straight for the Garden City squad.
As with any team, success builds confidence, sometimes too much, and ESM head coach Becky Thorn, who is in her third season as head coach, said that overconfidence was an issue at the beginning of the season.
“At first some of the returnees had some overconfidence issues regarding practice but I got them in check and they’re grounded now, I hope,” she said.
In order to repeat their successes from last season, the Lady Sharks are going to have to find ways to fill some big holes, especially on offense. Six seniors graduated, including four who went on to play college lacrosse at Division I and Division II schools. The most notable loss was the team’s top offensive producer, Dene DiMartino, who is now a member of the storied John Hopkins program with 15 goals in her first six games on the collegiate level.
Coach Thorn said they are still working on setting all the pieces into place on offense, but one player Thorn is expecting to come into her own this season is Kristen Anderson, who at 6 feet in height, can overtake defenders in front of the cage. Anderson was on the varsity team last season, but saw limited playing time.
Dakota Mason, who Thorn said “really stepped up during the county final last year,” will be in the midfield and will help chip in on both ends. Another player Thorn is expecting to turn the corner this season is freshman Kaeli Huff, who was a starter during the second half of the season, and will be expected to be more of a go-to-goal type of player this year rather than a feeder like last year. On the defensive end of the field, sophomore Samantha Giacolone returns to the cage and will be supported by veterans Rebecca Tooker, Megan Curley and Natalie Fuccillo, who is returning to the field after missing a majority of last season with a torn ACL.
ESM enters the season ranked third in the division behind Mount Sinai and Shoreham/Wading River. In addition to those two teams, coach Thorn is expecting Sayville, Rocky Point and Harborfields to also be among the top contenders her team faces. The Lady Sharks will open division play on March 25 at Bayport/Blue Point.
“We’re just going to take it game by game,” Thorn said. “Against good teams, it’s going to come down to defense for us. We need to step up defensively in order to capitalize on attack. Our goal is to get to the same place as last year and then hopefully go further.”
The ESM boys squad will get its Division II season started on March 27 at home against Miller Place. The Sharks have been to the Suffolk County Class B semifinals the past two seasons, and are ranked fourth among 22 teams in the division to start the season.
Additional information on the team was not available at press time.