The East Hampton girls lacrosse program has been moving on an upward trend the past few years. Each year since the 2010 season, the team has improved on its number of wins. Last year, the Lady Bonackers had their best regular season in school history, posting a 10-6 record. They also earned a spot in the Division II playoffs for the first time ever, but lost in the first round to eventual Suffolk County champion Eastport South Manor.
Under sixth year coach Matt Maloney, who was selected as the 2012 Coaches Choice Coach of the Year, the Lady Bonackers are looking to build on their recent accomplishments by winning more games and going deeper into the postseason.
They’ll have to do that however, without some key players lost to graduation and within a tougher schedule. For starters, Maloney will have to find replacements for his entire defense, all of whom were seniors. This includes four-year starter, co-captain, and All-County goalie Allison Charde. Finding a replacement for Charde will be a challenge, as will filling the shoes of two other co-captains and All-Division standouts, Nicole Miksinski and Katla Thorsen. Maloney and new assistant coach Rich King will spend their preseason sorting out the defense as well as preparing the team to face a tougher Division II schedule.
“We did lose a ton of leadership,” Maloney said, summarizing the extent of his team’s attrition. “We lost three captains and eleven seniors.”
Despite the current deficit in leadership and defensive experience, the Lady Bonackers return a potent mix of midfielders and attack players that are both experienced and have demonstrated they can score. Leading the Lady Bonackers offensively are two All-County junior midfielders, Maggie Pizzo and Amanda Seekamp. Pizzo and Seekamp will also help fill some the leadership void along with three returning seniors: defender and co-captain Jessica Gutierrez, attacker Melanie Mackin, and midfielder Gabriella Penati.
In predicting how well his team will fare this season, Maloney juxtaposed the team’s offensive prowess to the uncertainty of players stepping into new positions.
“[Pizzo and Seekamp] are two players that the whole division or whole county you could say knows about,” he said. “We’re returning every offensive starter, attack and midfielder, and bench players as well. Going into the season for the first few weeks right now, that’s where we’re most comfortable.”
With that being said, Maloney also noted: “So the big thing this year is what’s next after Maggie and Amanda.”
There is some uncertainty about who will take over the defense. According to Maloney it may come down to some players being removed from their comfort zone and becoming skilled at both offensive and defensive positions.
Unknowns aside, Maloney is optimistic about his team’s unique blend of players and depth of talented prospects. He is especially counting on a trio of players to stack the offensive deck and help pick up from where they ended last year. Sophomore attackers Jenna Budd, Cassidy Walsh, and Carley Seekamp will get the chance to bolster the offensive game even more. In addition to creating defensive headaches for opponents, Maloney believes the abundance of talent will foster a healthy dose of competitive spirit that will bring out the best in his players.
“I think it’s an advantage because we have no set lineup, which keeps all the girls hungry hopefully,” he said. “We’re talented enough that that lineup can change from game to game.”
Currently ranked number eight in the preseason Division II standings, Maloney and King will need to quickly assemble their team so that it can compete at a higher level this year and continue to progress as a team.
“We do not want to take a step backwards,” said Maloney, who emphasized one of his team’s goals was to return to the playoffs. “To try and secure a playoff win and possibly have a home playoff game would be real nice for us.”
By virtue of making the playoffs last year, this year’s schedule will be far more rigorous and include more games against top ten teams.
“We have the best team right now in program history and that also equates in power rankings to the toughest schedule in program history,” Maloney said. “We play everybody ranked in the top ten. Every game is going to be a battle for us.”
East Hampton plays 16 regular season games. Although every game is important, beating teams such as Eastport South Manor, Sayville, Mount Sinai, Rocky Point, and 2012 Class C State Champions Shoreham/Wading River will help increase East Hampton’s chances of making the postseason.
East Hampton will open up its season against Bayport/BluePoint at home on March 20 at 4:00 p.m.