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Girls Lacrosse Preview: SWR wants to break semifinal barrier

As well as the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls lacrosse team has done in recent years, the Wildcats have found themselves running into a stubborn wall that prevents them from moving on to bigger and better things. That wall is the county semifinals.

Last year marked the fourth straight year in which Shoreham was stymied in the county semifinals. Despite facing a four-goal deficit in the final 4 minutes, 51 seconds of a Suffolk County Class C semifinal against Bayport-Blue Point, Shoreham rallied for four straight goals in less than three minutes to force overtime. It was in double overtime, though, when Kelsi LoNigro scored on a free-position shot for a 9-8 Bayport triumph.

The ending was all-too familiar for Shoreham (13-4), which suffered three one-goal losses over the course of the season.

“It was a tough way to lose, for sure,” coach Brittany Davis said. “They’re a tremendous group of athletes and Shoreham is known for lacrosse, and they continue to do well, and little things get in our way.”

Seven returning starters will help Shoreham try to find a way back to that semifinal stage and beyond.

The defense is built around senior goalie Gabby Cacciola and junior defenders Jenna Lesiwicz (All-League) and Julie Kadletz. For offense, the Wildcats are looking to All-County senior Erin Triandafils, All-County honorable mention junior Isabella Meli, senior Mikayla Dwyer and junior Maddie Farron. Meli and Dwyer, who both played attack last year, are being moved to midfield.

Shoreham’s other veterans are senior attack Campbell Brant, sophomore attack Hayden Lachenmeyer, sophomore attack Amanda Padrazo, sophomore attack Gabriella Meli, senior defender Michelle Steimel, sophomore defender Summer Steimel, junior attack/midfielder Nicolette Constant and sophomore goalie Sarah Sheridan, who made the county’s all-rookie team.

Five new players have been added to the mix, including three eighth-graders: attack Hannah Kershis, defensive midfielder Alexa Constant and defender Catherine Erb. Freshman defender Brooke Langella and senior attack Alicia Morande are the other newcomers.

The Wildcats have three sets of sisters: the Constants, Melis and Steimels.

Shoreham is seeded eighth in Division II.

“They’re tremendous athletes,” Davis said of her players. “They rise to the occasion. I also love the aspect that we kind of are the underdog because people sized us up to not be as good as last year … I think there’s a sense of excitement around this new group. There’s an idea of what this team is and what it could be.”

Could it be a county finalist? Davis thinks so.

“I definitely think it’s a realistic thing,” she said. “The athletes here are super determined.”

Riverhead’s reading material these days says a lot about the team’s frame of mind. Coach Ashley Schandel said the Blue Waves are reading a motivational book, “The Hard Hat” by Jon Gordon.

“This book is mainly about 21 ways to be a good teammate,” she said. “One of the main quotes is ‘we over me’.”

Riverhead (11-7 last year) hopes that mindset will take the Blue Waves far this season. Last year, for the first time in team history, Riverhead reached the playoffs and defeated Huntington before succumbing to Smithtown East in a Suffolk Class A quarterfinal.

Big things are expected of the Blue Waves this year.

“We have a lot of talent this year,” Schandel said. “We have a lot riding on us this year. There’s a lot of pressure.”

Riverhead is seeded sixth among 22 teams in Division I, and with that comes a demanding schedule that will put the Blue Waves to the test. The top 11 teams in the division will reach the playoffs.

Riverhead can still count on All-County sisters and midfielders Kayla and Megan Kielbasa. Kayla is a junior and Megan is a sophomore. Sophomore attack Chrissy Thomas was an All-County honorable mention selection while senior attack Shannon Schmidt and sophomore defender Katie Goodale were All-Division. Sophomore midfielder Emma Conroy made the all-county rookie team. Three other sophomores — defensive midfielder Emma Panciocco, attack Delu Rizzo and goalie Sofia Salgado — were starters last year.

Ella Malanga will start on defense. Defender Rease Coleman, attack Lauren Kenny and attack Angelina Graziano are new to the team.

Schandel likes the team’s energy.

“They’re amped up and ready for the season,” she said. “We’re at a point now in Riverhead where we know that we’re good. Every year, as the years go by, we keep getting better and better. That’s why we play.”

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Photo caption: Erin Triandafils, an All-County senior, leads Shoreham-Wading River’s offense. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)