Last season, for the fourth consecutive time, the Eastport South Manor girls lacrosse team lost in the Suffolk County Class B semifinals. With just three girls graduated from last season’s team, and the Lady Sharks’ core still intact, ESM will be determined to finally reach the county finals this spring.
“We definitely want to make it to the playoffs,” ESM head coach Becky Thorn said. “Every other team’s goal is to make it to counties, but we’re starting where we left off last season. We’ve improved throughout the past couple of years, and we want to make it to the county finals.”
The Lady Sharks finished sixth in Suffolk County’s Division II last season with a 9-5 record, 10-6 overall, with 140.12 power points. All-Division player Lisa Terry has graduated, along with Kaitlyn Anderson and Emily Simmons. But with the majority of the girls returning this season, ESM was pre-ranked to finish second in the division.
ESM senior midfielder Dene DiMartino leads the strong returning group. She has been named All-American and All-County the past two seasons and scored seven goals in the county semifinal loss at Hauppauge last year. Senior midfielder Allison Gionta, junior midfielder Marissa Gurello and freshman goalie Samantha Giacolone, who all earned All-County honors last season, will be returning as well. Giacolone, who was also named to the All-Tournament team last season, is already coming into her third varsity season as a freshman.
Also returning are All-Division players Erin Gomez, a senior defender, and sophomore defenders Rebecca Tooker and Dakota Mason. Senior attack Katie Meinecke is also coming back to shore up the starting lineup, along with senior defender Jacklyn Gardella, sophomore defender Tara Gomez (Erin’s younger sister), and sisters Anjelica and Natalie Fuccillo. Anjelica is a senior and plays attack, while Natalie is a freshman defender.
Because of all the girls returning from last season, Thorn didn’t have to call up too many players from the junior varsity squad. Just three players, who all play attack, were called up: sophomore Kristen Anderson and eighth-graders Lauren Kesnig and Kaeli Huff.
Because the team is so deep at defense, Thorn thinks going into the season that it’s the team’s strongest suit. With players such as DiMartino, Gionta and Gurello up front, though, the Lady Sharks’ offense should come into its own. Thorn does want to see her team keep better possession of the ball this season. “A lot of it is eliminating the game clock, learning when to keep possession of the ball,” she explained.
ESM will continue to play in Class B this season with teams such as Hauppauge, Deer Park, Comsewogue, Islip and Harborfields. Although ESM is scheduled to play a divisional game with perennial powerhouse Shoreham/Wading River, the Lady Wildcats have moved back down to Class C and will not factor into the Class B playoffs this season.
The Lady Sharks will get their season under way on Friday at Kings Park at 4 p.m. and will host their first home game on Tuesday, March 27, against Comsewogue at 7 p.m.