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Comsewogue

Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor scoops up the ball amid a scrum in the Warriors’ zone during Comsewogue’s 6-5 win at Hauppauge April 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In practice, the Comsewogue boys’ lacrosse team performs a drill called “12 minutes,” and they’ve been putting that practice to good use so far this season.

“We treat it like the fourth quarter, where there’s 12 minutes left, and we work harder to make sure we come out on top,” junior midfielder Trevor Kennedy said. “We work to score more goals in that 12 minutes.”

On Tuesday, for the third time this season, the Warriors came out ahead in a close, one-goal game. This time, the boys topped Hauppauge, 6-5, rewarding their coach with a birthday win and claiming the top spot in Division III four games into the season.

“Winning against a top team in the division — it’s always nice to take them down and prove that we’re a contender,” Comsewogue junior goalkeeper Jake MacGregor said. “[Coach] had the starters over to watch film for two or three hours at his house to prepare for the game. We always take each game seriously and come out to win.”

Comsewogue’s Trevor Kennedy evades Hauppauge defenders as he makes his way up the field into the Eagles’ zone in the Warriors’ 6-5 win at Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Trevor Kennedy evades Hauppauge defenders as he makes his way up the field into the Eagles’ zone in the Warriors’ 6-5 win at Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

MacGregor wasn’t kidding.

The junior made six stops in the first six minutes en route to 17 saves on the evening.

“They were really good shooters on the other team but my defense held it together and was able to give me open looks to save the ball,” he said.

After several attempts, Hauppauge was first on the board, but three more Comsewogue saves later, the Warriors tied it up — senior faceoff specialist Zach Deutsch won the ball off the faceoff and took it all the way to goal just eight seconds into the second quarter.

From there, the Warriors never trailed, but the Eagles tied the game four times to keep the fans on edge.

First, junior midfielder Brandon O’Donoghue slid behind the net and passed the ball to sophomore attack Will Snelders on the right side. Snelders dove and shot it in for the 2-1 advantage with 6:46 left in the half.

Five minutes later, Hauppauge tied it again with a goal from Danny Murphy off an assist from Kyle Silverstein.

Comsewogue’s Kennedy was the only player to score in the third, when the ball was passed around the perimeter and, from the left side of the net, it was skipped out to him at center, where he whipped it in for the 3-2 advantage.

MacGregor came through with two more saves after that goal to maintain the lead heading into the fourth.

While in the huddle between quarters, Mitchell shouted, “Look at the clock. This is our time.”

Comsewogue’s Johnny Koebel looks downfield to make a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Johnny Koebel looks downfield to make a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over Hauppauge Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

And the boys synchronized their watches for a win.

First, Silverstein and Murphy connected for a Hauppauge goal, and after another MacGregor save, junior defender and midfielder Chris Pedone scored when he took the ball and rushed it all the way up the field. The Warriors led 4-3 with 9:52 left to play.

The teams kept going back and forth. Hauppauge’s Murphy scored unassisted and Comsewogue’s Kennedy, off a pass across the field from sophomore attack Ryan Dorney, rocked the back of the cage for a 5-4 lead.

Silverstein and Murphy continued to heat up and connected again to tie it at 5-all. Despite losing possession, the Warriors found a way to force a turnover behind the net, and Snelders came through with another diving play with 42 seconds left to end the scoring.

“The kid that passed me the ball, he drew my man and I came in and saw his man coming at me, so I tucked underneath and scored,” Snelders said. “It felt pretty good.”

Hauppauge won possession off the ensuing faceoff and with seconds left, fired a shot that MacGregor saved to seal the win.

“I just tried to react like I do in practice facing some nice shooters like Will Snelders and Trevor Kennedy,” he said. “I just tried to treat it like any other save.”

But Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell is more than impressed with his goalkeeper.

“Hauppauge is a very good offensive team and to only allow them to score [five] goals is a testament,” the head coach said. “He just does it game after game; he’s solid.”

He also gave credit to Stephen Reed, Matt Spahr and Chris Pedone, a baseball and soccer player who recently joined lacrosse.

Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor comes out of the cage to block Hauppauge defenders from regaining possession in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over the Eagles Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue goalkeeper Jake MacGregor comes out of the cage to block Hauppauge defenders from regaining possession in the Warriors’ 6-5 win over the Eagles Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

All four of the team’s games have been one-goal games, the first three of which went into overtime.

The Warriors earned a 6-5 win over Mount Sinai first, before falling to Islip, 4-5. They picked it back up with a 10-9 victory against Eastport-South Manor before the game at Hauppauge. Moving forward, Mitchell is hoping his team can score more goals.

“That’s Division III right now — any coach will tell you, anybody can win on any day,” he said. “I give all the credit to Hauppauge. They just as easily could have been walking off victors here, but it really makes for exciting lacrosse in Suffolk County.”

Kennedy sees signs of good things to come.

“Our defense is sick — our big goalie is pretty good, too,” he said with a laugh. “Our offense could use a little more work but we’re starting to gel and I’m felling pretty confident. Hauppauge was No. 1, now we’re No. 1.”

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Assistant Superintendent for Business Susan Casali explained the district’s budget proposal last week. Photo by Barbara Donlon

Comsewogue School District hopes to adopt a budget that increases staff while staying within the state-imposed limit on its tax increase.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Susan Casali explained during a school board workshop on March 26 that the budget proposal would also reduce the district’s dependency on its reserves and make security improvements.

The budget was originally proposed at that workshop to be $85.6 million, or a 2.7 percent increase over the current year’s budget, funded in part through an expected increase in state aid.

But after preliminary state aid numbers were released on Tuesday, showing Comsewogue receiving less than the $2 million bump it expected, the district is changing its budget proposal — Casali said in an email that the plan is to slash the budget by $400,000.

“Our overall goal is to stay under the property tax cap,” Casali said last week, referring to New York State’s cap on how much municipalities and school districts can increase their tax levy each year.

Comsewogue may raise its by 2.2 percent next year, and the budget proposal meets that cap.

Under the budget plan, the district would add a librarian, so that each school in the district would have one, and Comsewogue would replace its deans, who also have teaching responsibilities, with assistant principals to create more flexibility.

At John F. Kennedy Middle School, where there is already one assistant principal, the plan is to replace the part-time dean with a full-time assistant principal. At Comsewogue High School, the dean will become two assistant principals.

The district is also hoping to add assistant athletic coaches into the mix, for student safety and to help develop a stronger athletic program. In the past, those roles were cut for financial reasons.

Other improvements are proposed for the district’s facilities — according to Casali, Comsewogue’s wireless infrastructure hasn’t been updated in more than 10 years, and some classrooms need to be refurbished. Officials also hope to add cameras and other upgrades to the security system, based on recommendations from a security study that was completed last year.

While the budget has not been finalized, Superintendent Joe Rella said, “Whatever budget is put up [for a public vote] in May will be under the tax cap.”

Also on the ballot will be a proposition on transportation, to add bus service for 38 JFK Middle School students who currently walk to school. The students live within a half-mile of the building, which keeps them off the buses, but the heavy snow covering sidewalks this winter led the kids to walk in the street and spurred the transportation proposal.

The extra bus riders will not add cost to the taxpayer, as the district would reconfigure current bus routes to accommodate the kids.

The school board will adopt a budget at its meeting on April 13.

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Jake MacGregor prepares to send the ball into play. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Comsewogue boys’ lacrosse players are returning a year wiser and are looking to avenge a bitter loss from the end of last season.

Despite starting a lot of underclassmen last year, the team made it to the Suffolk County Class B semifinals, where the Warriors fell to Miller Place, 6-5.

“We wanted to win the county championship, so I think it gives the returning players a little bit more of an edge this year to achieve that goal,” junior defender Matt Spahr said. “Every practice everyone comes out with a lot of intensity and energy. It makes everyone really compete for a spot. No one is ever complacent and everyone is always on their toes.”

Matt Spahr reaches for the ball. File photo by Bill Landon
Matt Spahr reaches for the ball. File photo by Bill Landon

The Warriors have benefited from a clean turf field this preseason. Persevering through the tough winter, the boys have shoveled snow off the field three times and haven’t missed an outdoor practice, which will get them off to a good start.

“It’s a lot better for us to be out there on the turf because some of the other teams don’t have the opportunity to play out there, so we’re getting a lot of touches and open field looks,” junior goalkeeper Jake MacGregor said. “It’s better than being in the gym and having all of those tight spaces where we can’t run and stretch our legs out a lot.”

According to Comsewogue head coach Pete Mitchell, the improvements the team made last year should carry over into this season and the Warriors are returning some strong players on defense, which is the heart of the team.

“Defense at Comsewogue is always a focal point,” MacGregor said. “We rely mainly on our defense. I feel like we could push lots of transitions and score lots of goals off our defensive turnovers.”

Mitchell will be leaning on three-year starters MacGregor, an All-County player; Spahr, who recently signed to play with the University at Albany; senior faceoff specialist Zach Deutsch; and junior defenseman Stephen Reed, who is also All-County.

All of those defensive returners will be crucial to pulling the team together to start the season, as the young offense continues to progress in outdoor practices.

“Our defense creates a lot of offensive opportunities for us, but we have to be able to score,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been working a lot with the offense, trying to hone their junior varsity skills into varsity skills. We’re still very young on that end, so there are going to be some growing pains at the beginning of the year.”

Zach Deutsch wins the ball off the faceoff in a game last season. File photo by Bill Landon
Zach Deutsch wins the ball off the faceoff in a game last season. File photo by Bill Landon

Another adjustment for the team will be new competition in Hauppauge and Kings Park, as a result of a league realignment. Comsewogue and the other Class B schools are now in League 3.

“I think the Class Bs are very, very good,” Mitchell said. “Our [league] is, I think, very diverse, and there are 10 teams that could be county champs this year. It’s very balanced, and it’s good for lacrosse — there should be a lot of exciting lacrosse games.”

MacGregor said although there will be a bunch of tough matchups, the guys are taking it one game at a time, with the first coming on Thursday, at Mount Sinai at 7 p.m.

“I’ve been playing with these guys since I was in third grade, so we know each other really well — we have good connections and chemistry,” he said. “I feel like it’ll transfer well into game-time situations. We have a lot of good players that can make some great plays, and we’re just focusing in on Mount Sinai right now.”

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