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Big Monday matchup in Suffolk League I boys lacrosse

Smithtown West's Pat O'Brien carries downfield during the

Smithtown West's Pat O'Brien carries downfield during the fourth period. (March 27, 2013) (Credit: James Escher)

Is this the year West Islip finally is dethroned?

The Lions, who have won nine straight Suffolk championships in boys lacrosse, and five of the last seven state Class A crowns, have already lost twice, including a rare league defeat to Smithtown East.

The two top contenders in Suffolk League I, for the moment, Ward Melville (6-0) and Smithtown West (7-0), meet Monday at 5 p.m. in a showdown that could go a long way toward determining the top seed for the playoffs.

The Patriots have been an offensive machine, averaging 15.3 goals per game, led by Duke-bound middie Jack Bruckner (21 goals, 14 assists). Danny Bucaro and Christian Mazzone have chipped in 17 goals apiece for Ward Melville, who hosts the game Monday.

The Bulls have firepower, too, averaging 13.3 goals per game, led by Penn State-bound junior Ryan Keenan, second on Long Island in scoring with 45 points, including 25 assists. Keenan and George Schultz have scored 20 goals each, and Patrick O’Brien has 26 points, including 14 assists.

West Islip, which undoubtedly will be much improved come playoff time, hosts Smithtown West on April 23 and Ward Melville on April 29. So Suffolk I remains a wide-open race, regardless of who wins Monday night. Additionally, Smithtown East, which already has defeated West Islip, and unbeaten Northport are serious challengers for the league crown. Should be fun.