Long Island has long been considered a hotbed for boys and girls lacrosse, but the sport has taken longer to gain popularity on the East End and, as a result, many high schools in the area have struggled to create competitive programs.
The Westhampton Beach boys and girls teams, however, have made great strides in the last few years, and a perfect illustration of that fact was on display in the high school library last Tuesday. Seniors Zoe Recchion, Evan Gagne and Alexa Smith all signed national letters of intent to continue their lacrosse careers at prestigious Division I schools. Recchion will play at Syracuse University, Smith at Monmouth University in New Jersey and Gagne at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
The seniors were surrounded by their parents and family members at the signing. Also in attendance were Westhampton Beach Athletic Director Kathy Masterson, boys lacrosse head coach Drew Peters and girls lacrosse head coach Ann Naughton, as well as boys assistant coach Cody Hoyt and girls assistant coach Tina Moon.
It’s no surprise that the trio earned scholarships to Division I schools considering the amount of time they’ve logged on the field. Smith and Recchion have been playing lacrosse together since the fourth grade, when they started out on PAL teams in Westhampton Beach. Gagne first picked up a stick when he was just a second-grader.
Gagne, a midfielder, will begin his fifth year on varsity in the spring. In four years for the Hurricanes, he’s scored 83 goals and tallied 44 assists. He was an All-County player last year and also competed in the Rising Seniors Top 20 Suffolk vs. Nassau All-Star game.
Alexa Smith, one of the leading scorers for the Lady Hurricanes, is a two-time All-County player, while Zoe Recchion has also been one of the top scorers on attack for the Lady Hurricanes.
The three players had similar reasons for choosing their respective colleges, citing their proximity to home, a good feel on each campus and an immediate bond with the current players and coaching staffs.
“I picked [Monmouth] based on location and definitely the coaching was a huge part of it,” Smith said. “I loved the area. It was right on the ocean and it was the perfect size. It reminded me of home. I’m the first one to leave out of my siblings and cousins, so I wanted to be able to come back.”
Gagne said being close to home factored in his decision as well.
“[Fairfield] was one of the first schools I looked at and one of the first schools that contacted me,” he said. “Right when I got there I fell in love with the school and knew I wanted to go there. And it’s close to home, so I can come home when I want. The coaching staff was amazing and I liked a lot of the players.”
Recchion said she really likes the Syracuse campus, team and coaching staff, but also had extra motivation as well, as her younger sister, Bella Recchion, a junior, has also verbally committed to the school and will join her there on the lacrosse team in two years.
The three players also agreed that while they are pleased to extend their lacrosse careers into college, they are even happier that they are giving their high school a good name while doing so.
“I definitely feel like our class, guys and girls, is leaving a mark,” Smith said. “We’re going to great schools to play and we’re really excited about it, and I think it will make the program continue to grow more every year.”