Both girls made the team, again.
And although Isabella Petriello and Isabella Nelin were not able to help the Long Island sophomores defend the Brine National Lacrosse Classic championship title the girls won as freshmen, they’re just happy to be able to continue to play the sport they love.
“Lacrosse is my passion — it’s really taken over my whole life,” Petriello said. ”It’s helped me not only to be a better athlete, but it’s helped me with everything. With my time management skills, my ability to focus, to accept failure, and to just keep working hard.”
The athletes, both defenders, continued to work hard at the lacrosse classic in Midlothian, Virginia, outscoring much of the competition despite an early loss, and cruised to the semifinals, where the team fell to would-be champion Pennsylvania, 8-4.
“It was a great experience,” Petriello said. “It was an honor to get the chance to play with such talented girls that share the same passion as me.”
Nelin’s mother, Karen, was just proud of her daughter for making the team for a second year in a row, and is proud of what her daughter has been able to accomplish since she first joined the sport in the seventh grade.
“I feel like Bella can definitely get the job done,” Karen Nelin said. “I have such confidence in her. She’s a fast runner, she’s very tall, and she’s also good when her teammate needs help to slide. She’s a voice out there. Even when the offense has the ball, she’s out there encouraging them, and is confident and supportive.”
Petriello said the loss pushed her to want to do bigger and better things in the future.
“You go into it expecting the things that you did last year because you’ve been working so hard, and it definitely was hard, I wont lie, but failure and losing are a part of being successful,” she said. “When I don’t reach my goal the way I want to, that’s what I use to light my fire. It helps me keep fighting to get to where I want to be in life.”
And Isabella Petriello’s father, Anthony, said his daughter has some things you simply can’t teach.
“She has that grit, that desire and that heart every single time she goes out there,” he said. “That gives her the ability to help her teammates and do the things that she needs to do on the field, along with her teammates, to get the job done.”
Although Isabella Petriello has been involved in the sport longer than Isabella Nelin, both have been named strong players. Petriello uses more aggression, while Nelin likes to be more tactical.
The defenders play for the Long Island Top Guns travel team, but Petriello picked up the sport when she was in second grade, playing for the Brookhaven Town team before playing for Miller Place.
“She lives and breathes lacrosse for her ultimate goal of playing at the college level,” Anthony Petriello said, adding that his daughter plays volleyball for the school team, as well as in a Middle Country school district lacrosse league on Thursday evenings. “What a reward for parents to see their child succeed in anything in life.”
Nelin, on the other hand, picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time in seventh grade after her friends tried to get her to join.
“I was a little rusty at first, but I’d go over their house and ask them to please throw and catch with me,” she said, laughing. “Even when we don’t even plan on practicing, we end up grabbing sticks and going outside and having a pass. Once you start playing the sport, you don’t stop. I feel like I always have a stick in my hand.”
Although she started later, Nelin has trained with many coaches, including local defender Shanna Brady of Smithtown, who played for St. Anthony’s and currently plays for NCAA tournament-winning University of Maryland. Nelin also plays varsity lacrosse for Ward Melville.
The girls like the team aspect of defense, and work well together on the field.
“We both know where the other one is on the field at all times and know what the other person will do, and it makes it a lot easier,” Petriello said. “[Isabella Nelin] is always pushing herself and, especially me and others, to be better,” she said.
Nelin is also comfortable working alongside her Long Island teammate.
“The coaches don’t know us, so when they ask who wants to start on defense, we both stand next to each other and try to raise our hands at the same time,” Nelin said, laughing. “We both want to get on the field at the same time. I can trust her when she says she has my right and tells me to force a player somewhere so we can double-team her.”
And Brine’s Long Island team’s coach Megan McCormack, noticed the girls’ chemistry quickly.
“They were both very talkative, very aggressive,” she said. “They worked well with one another and meshed well with the other girls on the team.”
Nelin is excited to see where the future will take her.
“Lacrosse really means a lot to me,” she said. “I feel like it’s my future. I’d love to play in college and it’s helped me meet a bunch of new people. It’s opened new doors for me; I’ve traveled to a bunch of different states and it’s just been amazing. I feel like it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
McCormack believes that Nelin and Petriello’s futures will be bright.
“You can see and pick up on that chemistry right away,” she said. “I knew that they felt comfortable with one another. They knew what each other did well and what each other needed, whether or not they should push one another, so I thought they really complemented each other well. I know they both had successful lacrosse careers ahead of them.”