In May of 2006, Rachel Feirstein experienced what Shoreham-Wading River lacrosse was all about. As a junior captain for Smithtown East, Feirstein’s team suffered a 19-4 drubbing at the hands of the Wildcats in Shoreham. A few weeks later, the Wildcats won their first Long Island championship, beginning a dynasty of five state titles in six years from 2007-12.
“I remember playing Shoreham and was like, ‘Wow, they’re always so great,’ ” Feirstein said.
Now, Feirstein will get to experience Shoreham lacrosse first hand. She was officially approved as the varsity head coach Tuesday night for what will be her first head coaching position. Feirstein replaces Mary Bergmann, who accepted a full-time teaching position at Westhampton Beach, where she will now be the head coach of the Hurricanes.
“It’s definitely big shoes to fill,” Feirstein said. “I have a competitive mind and I’m really exited to bring that to the girls. I want to show them my passion for lacrosse.”
Feirstein, 24, was a four-year lacrosse player at Monmouth University, where she tallied 123 goals in her career as a midfielder. As a freshman in 2008 she was the Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, scoring 46 goals for the ninth best single season in school history at the time.
Feirstein said she’s thrilled at the opportunity to coach at Shoreham. She’s currently at substitute teacher at Smithtown and saw that Shoreham was advertising its girls lacrosse position.
“I wanted to get back into lacrosse because it pretty much was my life for four years in college,” she said. “It’s addicting after a while. I thought I’d go for the job and I’m really glad I got it because I’m really excited to see what I can do with the girls there.”
Feirstein will meet the girls on the team for the first time Friday, she said. Practices begin Monday.
“I just want them to know how passionate I am about the sport,” she said. “It’s not always about winning. It’s more about having fun and enjoying the game and growing from each experience.”
Bergmann was the head coach for three years at Shoreham, compiling a 41-16 (.719) record. Bergmann was the junior varsity coach for three seasons before that and also the varsity assistant in 2010. She became the varsity coach after Bob Vlahakis resigned following four straight state championship seasons.
In her first year, the Wildcats overcame a rough start to advance into the Class B county championship game. In 2012, the Wildcats returned to Cortland, winning their fifth state championship. Last season the Wildcats lost in the county finals to Mount Sinai, which went on to win the state title.
Bergmann was officially hired at Westhampton right before Christmas, she said.
“It wasn’t like I wanted to leave [Shoreham], but I had to do what was best for my career,” she said.
Bergmann didn’t have the chance to see any of the Shoreham girls in person after making the decision. Fittingly enough, Shoreham and Westhampton will meet in the second game of the season, March 28.
“That’ll be the first time we actually all see each other, so that’s when I think it will hit,” Bergmann said.
J.M. Jackson, who was an assistant under Bergmann the past three seasons, will also coach at Westhampton this spring.
“I think it’s good for Shoreham to maybe get a fresh start,” Bergmann said.
The Wildcats will have a challenging season ahead after losing the majority of their starting lineup to graduation. And the competition in Class C will likely be the toughest that it’s ever been. Mount Sinai returns almost all of its team from an undefeated season last year. Babylon, which Shoreham squeaked by in the semifinals last year, returns nearly all of its team. Westhampton has an upcoming program as well under Bergmann now.
“You can never count Shoreham out,” Bergmann said. “Ever.”