Red hot Bulls start lacrosse season 3-0
Smithtown East’s Shannon Kavanagh stole the show.
Winning draws and taking the ball to goal, the junior capitalized three times for a hat trick, and added four assists in the Bulls’ 12-9 win over Commack Tuesday.
Kavanagh won the opening draw and after passing the ball around the cage, it wound up in the stick of freshman Isabella Costa, who scored in front of the net for the 1-0 advantage just over a minute into the game.
“I knew that the draws are a really important part of the game,” Kavanagh said. “If you win the draw you can control the game, so I knew I had to do my best in order to get the ball on offense.”
The junior won the ensuing draw for her team, and passed the ball behind her back to eighth-grader Hunter Roman, who scored to make it a 2-0 game. After Commack gained possession, the team scored a quick goal to cut the deficit in half, 2-1, but Kavanagh won the draw again.
She took it to the cage, but her shot hit the left goal post. She set up the next play with a feed to junior Julia Smith, who rocketed the ball to the back of the net. Kavanagh recorded an assist on the next goal, passing to junior Stephanie Burton, who scored up top for the 4-1 advantage.
Costa went around the back of the cage and beat out the defender to stuff the ball in the right side with 17:53 left to play in the first half. Smith did the same thing on the next play, but to the opposite side. She scored in front again off a feed from Kavanagh for her hat trick goal and a 7-1 lead.
“Shannon was winning a lot of draws, we worked on our fast break and slow break, we stayed calm and we ran our plays well,” Smith said. “We’ve been playing for four years together and we’re only juniors, and we’re on the same travel team, so we connect. We’re always look for each other on the field.”
Commack scored twice, but freshman Gabby Schneider bounced the ball in with 3:23 left in between the goals, to bring the score to 8-3. Kavanagh scored unassisted on the following play, and found the cage again off a feed from Burton. Commack scored twice in the final minute, and cut the lead in half, 10-5.
“We were trying some different things, but we still won, which is good,” Smithtown East head coach Ann Naughton said. “There are lots of things we learned today, which we’ll practice and work on. I think draw control was definitely a strength for us, especially in the first half. We changed some things up, so we lost some momentum here and there, and some of our shot placement affected us as well, but they played with composure even though Commack made a run.”
Naughton told her team at halftime that the Cougars were scoring off her Bulls’ disorganization. Kavanagh tried to redeem the team for its miscues when she scored her hat trick goal for the first score of the second half, but her team still had some trouble handling the ball and making clean passes.
“We played really well in the first half, but we got too comfortable in the second half,” Kavanagh said. “We were a little sloppy, but I think if we work hard on stick skills in practice and our defense, it’ll be a lot better.”
But the team has multiple offensive threats, which will come in handy against tougher opponents.
“If all seven attackers can score, that’d be ideal,” Naughton said.
Schneider scored the final goal for her team, and Commack closed out the game with three unanswered tallies.
Smithtown East hosts West Islip today at 4 p.m. West Islip is the reigning Suffolk County, Long Island and New York State champion from last season, but Smithtown East narrowly fell 9-8 to the Lions last season.
“I think they’re doing a great job,” Naughton said. “We have a lot of speed and a lot of young talent, and some older talent, too, so we’re just trying to put everything together to make it consistently work throughout the entire game. We have a big game on Thursday against West Islip, so hopefully we’ll be ready to go.”