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Freshman midfield Jack Krisch. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

With a new head coach comes a new goal for the Huntington boys lacrosse team: take two more wins.

Senior attack Colby Martin. Photo by Bill Landon

Last year, the Blue Devils finished with a 6-10 record, with three of those losses coming from one-goal games. The last time Huntington made the postseason was 2013, losing to Miller Place by a single score in the first round. If the team can win just two more games than last season, the Blue Devils will end the five-year playoff drought.

“We need more structure — more discipline by implementing a system that guys buy into and that works, that makes the guys like lacrosse,” head coach Julian Watts said. “We’re changing the culture, not the tradition, but changing the way we prepare them for games, making sure they’re confident, putting them in the right spots, and hopefully, they can execute.”

Leading the charge will be senior goalkeeper Sam Bergman, a three-year starter who began every game between the pipes last year.

“There so much more room for growth,” the coach said. “And we’ll continue to grow — there’s no limit to how good we can get. We’ve got to continue to push each other, maintaining that chemistry on and off the field. It’ll come down to us playing to the very last minute of [every] game.”

According to Watts, who played at St. Anthony’s before competing for Hofstra University, this season is about more than athleticism and stick skills.

Junior midfielder Jordan McCoy. Photo by Bill Landon

“[I want a system that] makes them want to come to practice,” he said. “But along with structure and discipline, there are consequences. We have great coaches instilling a good work ethic along with hard work and paying attention to details. [If they] don’t cut corners that will bring success both on the field and off it — it’s all of the little things that count.”

He said he sees the younger athletes pushing the older ones to show them what they’re made of, and the elders setting the standard for how practice should go. They’re all bringing the energy, according to Watts, including senior defensive midfielder Mike Abbondandelo and sophomore Jack Stewart, who will lead the team with Bergman.

“We lost three games last year by one goal, and in each it came down to miscommunication on the field,” Stewart said. “But this year, we’ve got great team chemistry and a much better vibe. We’re all on the same page.”

Senior midfielder Mikey Abbondandelo. Photo by Bill Landon

Even though there’s more of a mental focus, Watts said the riding and clearing need to become second nature for his team so that it’s poised under pressure and in control, as to not make wild or out-of-bounds throw.

“We just want them to make the high-percentage passes,” said the coach. “If we can do that efficiently and consistently, that’s a recipe for success.”

Senior defender Anthony McDonald said his team’s roster is deeper this year than it has been in the past, and with a high number of returning players he said he’s excited to see where the Blue Devils can take themselves this season.

“I think we have a lot more experience on the field this year,” McDonald said. “Practice has been good, and we’re only getting better. We’re working hard, we’re pushing each other, and I see a lot of camaraderie and chemistry out there.”

Huntington will scrimmage once more before opening the season with a nonleague game at Kings Park  March 24. The first faceoff is scheduled for noon.

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By Bill Landon

Port Jefferson’s first-year girls lacrosse coach Kelly Walsh will be relying on her team’s defense to help the Royals improve on its win total in its second ever varsity season.

Last year, the Royals notched two wins, and ultimately fell short of a third with a 14-13 loss at the hands of Copiague. Although Port Jefferson hasn’t had a chance to have many outdoor practices yet this year, the head coach is liking what she’s seeing.

“I think we’re coming together pretty well,” said Walsh, who played for Commack and St. Joseph’s University. “I think we’re going to be strong defensively. The girls just bond really well, so I think now that some of them have put their foot in the water to get experience playing, even though we’re so young, they’re starting to get that connection with the older players.”

Brooke Zamek said she believes there’s more work to be done to be in a position to win games.

“We definitely have to work on some skills, because we’re not at the top of our abilities yet,” the freshman defender and midfielder said. “But we all know each other — we’ve known each other for a long time — and that helps us.”

Without any seniors on the squad, this year’s team is a mix of very new varsity players with a handful of juniors, but Walsh said her team will use that to its advantage.

“You wouldn’t know [the difference] between the eighth-graders and eleventh-grade player because they treat each other like sisters,” the coach said. “Youth doesn’t make that much of a difference, maybe in size, but you can see where the older girls just take in the younger players.”

Freshman Katelynn Johnston echoed the assessment of her coach and teamates about how her Royals will look this year.

“We communicate well, we work well together, we need to get better at our stick skills,” she said. “We’re young, but I think we’ll do fairly well this year.”

Midfielder Phalina Sciara took her critiques a step further, analyzing different particular aspects of Port Jefferson’s play.

“We’ve got to hone our passing and clean up our stick skills, but we shouldn’t be underestimated just because we’re a young team,” the junior said. “We have great coaches this year, so that definitely helps, and they know how to motivate us and I think we’ll do well this year.”

Walsh said the season will be a challenge with a small roster, but hopes her limited amount of substitutes can still make their own contributions.

“We’re going to have to lean on our subs,” Walsh said. “But they’re always talking about who wants it more amongst themselves, and that builds character.”

Port Jefferson will be tested when it opens the season at home March 28 hosting Deer Park at 4 p.m.

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Miller Place sophomore Lauren Mancini carries the ball downfield with a Mount Sinai defender on her back during a scrimmage. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place boasts a mix of youth and experience in its girls lacrosse team this season, including nine eighth-graders, many   of which were on the Panthers playoff team last year.

Miller Place sophomore Madison Murphy gains possession off the draw. Photo by Bill Landon

The team finished its 2017 campaign with a 7-6 record, making the playoffs but falling to rival Shoreham-Wading River in the opening round. The girls scrimmaged Syosset before going toe-to-toe March 17 with New York State champion Mount Sinai, scoring several goals against their formidable neighbors.

Being a young team, boasting just four seniors with sophomores, freshmen and the nine eighth-graders making up the rest of the roster, Miller Place head coach Thomas Carro is under no illusion as to what’s in store for his squad this season.

“We’re going to have some growing pains in the beginning,” he said. “They’re going to make mistakes. We turned the ball over like 11 times in that last scrimmage [against Syosset], so we’ve got to limit those — and we will.”

Carro said five-year senior goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowski, along with returning defenders, should keep the Panthers in games.

“I think we have one of the best goalies we’ve ever had,” Carro said of Duchnowski, also pointing to junior defender Ava Burns and sophomore midfielder Madison Murphy, who he said is “going to have a good year.” “If those girls play hard, that stuff becomes contagious and the younger group will follow them.”

Miller Place freshman Alexa Corbin moves the ball through midfield in a scrimmage against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

Duchnowski pointed to areas of promise and areas of concern she has with her unit up to this point in practice.

“We are doing really well at moving the ball fast on offense, coming together on defense, working hard,” she said. “But we’ll have to get better in transition.”

Murphy’s assessment of her team’s progress so far she said belies its age, but also noticed moments of weakness.

“We have a bunch of athletes,” she said. “We need to play together as a team, and if we do that it’ll all come together. We’ll need a lot of communication on the defensive end as well as on offense, and if we can do that fluently we can win.”

Senior Nicole Beck will also provide the Panthers with the leadership they need, and said, like her coach always does, Miller Place doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.

Miller Place junior Ava Burns battles for a ground ball against Mount Sinai. Photo by Bill Landon

“We lost a great amount of talent last year, but so far we’re still able to put up the numbers offensively,” Beck said. “It’s been impressive — we didn’t think we’d be able to do that — we have a lot of young girls who are playing really well.”

Murphy said her team’s preparation for the league opener at home against last year’s nemesis won’t have anything to do with the athleticism of the team, but with the mental preparedness. Miller Place will host Shoreham-Wading River March 28 at 4 p.m.

“If we go into that game with a positive mindset, work as hard as we can, I think there could be a positive outcome,” she said.

Carro said his team competes with some of the sport’s top Long Island talents, and said finding a way to neutralize high-caliber opponent’s threats will be key to competing with the cream of the crop.

“Shoreham lost a lot [of talent] last year, but it’ll be a test for us to play a team that’s next door to us; the girls all know each other,” the coach said. “We have Rocky Point and Mount Sinai [as neighbors and opponents this year], and those are tough teams. These girls come out and play hard against those teams, and if we take care of the ball and make good decisions, we can be in the game with anybody.”

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Members of state championship-winning field hockey team look to bring another title home this spring

Samantha Tarpey goalie, Ward Melville's junior goalkeeper, reaches to make a save during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Three Ward Melville multi-sport athletes are hoping to not only share knowledge of success through teaching, but through osmosis.

Lexi Reinhardt, Kate Mulham and Kerri Thornton, all veterans of the Patriots field hockey team, have tasted success at the highest level. After bringing home the school’s first state title since 2008, they returning starters are hoping to do it again, but this time, with the girls lacrosse team.

Ward Melville senior Shannon Brazier make a pass during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

“Our core players are high energy, they’re high speed, high power, just go-go-go,” head coach Kerri Kilkenny said. “After those girls won the field hockey state title they were all texting me, ‘we’re doing it again in the spring.’”

Ward Melville ended its 2017 campaign 17-1. The Patriots powered through the regular season, going 16-0 in Division I before topping West Islip in the Class A quarterfinals. Going 17-1 would seem to be an accomplishment for any team, but for Patriots, the single-score loss to Northport in semifinals stung, and the pain still lingers. Ranked No. 1 in Division I heading into this season, Ward Melville has its sights set on a new objective.

“Our focus is working hard and getting better every day,” Kilkenny said. “This year I’m more concerned about making sure that we are taking care of ourselves — that we are becoming better, that we are improving and that we’re working hard every single day.”

The Patriots lost 13 seniors to graduation, spread evenly across the field — four attackers, four midfielders, four defenders and a goalkeeper. Kilkenny said with the girls playing on club teams over the summer, she’s not worried about filling in the gaps. Senior Shannon Coughlan will anchor the defense, the duo of Shannon Brazier and Shannon Berry will lead the midfield and Jill Becker will guide the attack.

Ward Melville senior Nicole Liucci moves the ball downfield during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Brazier said the bitter taste left in every girl’s mouth after the loss will be used as motivation.

“We’re all trying as hard as we can because a lot of us are seniors,” she said. “This is our last year, so we’re giving it our all. Even though we only had one loss last year, it ended our season. We weren’t happy about that, so we’re using that to fuel our season this year.”

Coughlan, who agreed with Brazier, said she is also looking to get her team up to speed.

“We have new personnel on defense, so we’re going to have to work on communication with each other to get to where we’re comfortable,” Coughlan said.

Ward Melville will scrimmage top Division III teams in Mount Sinai, Shoreham-Wading River, Eastport-South Manor and Bayport-Blue Point before the season opener against visiting Riverhead March 27 at 4:30 p.m.

“My senior class is a great, dynamic group — they’ve been with us a few years now and they all have tremendous potential,” Kilkenny said. “All of the girls are like sponges; they want to learn, they listen, they’re coachable. They really are a wonderful group of kids.”

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Jason Hartglass shoots from the paint. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

In his third year as Kings Park boys’ basketball head coach, Christopher Rube looks to turn the corner after two losing seasons, and will rely on his core of returning players to do so.

Co-captain Paul Cooper, a returning All-Conference player brings experience and senior leadership to the court in his fourth year on the varsity team. He is on track to score his 1,000th career point this season.

Paul Cooper leaps up to the rim during practice. Photo by Bill Landon
Paul Cooper leaps up to the rim during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Rube said that his player is an excellent ball handler who has a nose for the rim. Cooper, who has received two All-County nods while on the football team, is being actively recruited by Division III colleges to play both sports.

“I see a lot of improvement — we were competitive in my freshman year, but the last two years we’ve been rebuilding,” Cooper said. “Everyone’s getting used to the new coach and now everyone is buying in and we should have a good season.”

Rube said the last two years have been steppingstones. The Kingsmen finished 5-10 last year, and 4-11 the year before. Rube indicated his returning players have improved drastically over that time.

“Compared to where we were the last two seasons, we’re at a spot where we should be much more competitive,” he said. “I’m pleased with our efforts defensively — their unselfishness and willingness to pass the ball and find the open man. This year they did more work in the offseason than the previous two years, and they’ve developed a work ethic.”

He’s also looking forward to what co-captain Richie Price will bring to the court.

“This year it’s serious — everyone is invested in the program and no one’s selfish,” said Price, who is a three-year varsity returner. “This season everyone’s focused about the success of the team. Our defense has come a long way, so if we can be a solid defensive team we’re going to be hard to beat.”

Andrew Bianco scores with a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon
Andrew Bianco scores with a jumper. Photo by Bill Landon

Bolstering the core of this year’s squad is returning sophomore Andrew Bianco, who started as a freshman. Rube expects big things from his player.

“He has improved tremendously and will be one of our primary scorers,” the head coach said. “He’s tough around the ball, he can crash the boards and can step out and shoot 3-pointers.”

Bianco agreed with Price that everyone is focused on the greater good of the team.

“We share the ball more and we have good shooting,” Bianco said. “But we’re going to need to work on our plays on offense to be ready for Bellport to open the season [at home, Dec. 20].”

Price agreed with Cooper that the two teams to beat in League IV this season will be Half Hollow Hills West and Deer Park. Bianco sees Babylon as a greater threat than Deer Park, though.

The Kingsmen will host Half Hollow Hills West Jan. 3, travel to Deer Park three days later and return home to face West Babylon Jan. 10.

“They’re at a point where they know that everybody needs to be able to shoot the ball, make the extra pass and work on being more consistent,” Rube said. “We look very good in flashes, but we need to put that together for all 32 minutes of play.”

Cinema Arts Centre photo by Victoria Espinoza

Looking for a more exclusive way to enjoy movies in Huntington? The Cinema Arts Centre has just the fix.

The Preview Club is a new program opening in March that will allow a select amount of people to attend advance screenings of new films before their New York release dates.

David Schwartz, chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image in Manhattan, will be curating the program and will also design the program from audience feedback. After every show, a guest speaker — for example, the producer of the movie — will lead a discussion with the audience related to the film shown. The audience will also be given cards for comments, which will aide Schwartz in his development of the program going forward.

Preview-Card-Raj-wThere is a maximum of 270 members allowed in the club, and Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotions at the Cinema Arts Centre, said the club already has about one hundred members after just announcing the program last week.

“The exciting part of it is you as an audience member won’t know what you’re seeing until you sit down in the theater,” Tawney said in a phone interview.

The films shows will be a range of major independent and international movies and will be shown about once or twice a month.

The first showing is Mar. 16, and the following few include April 16 and 27.

The Preview Club is not only a ticket to new movies but also a social club meant for fellow film lovers to interact.