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Long Beach stays undefeated despite multiple injuries

Long Beach's James Forkin, left, gets congratulated by

Long Beach's James Forkin, left, gets congratulated by teammate Connor Sofield after scoring a goal in the first period of a Nassau boys lacrosse Class B quarterfinal against Plainedge at Hofstra University. (Credit: James Escher, 2012)

Long Beach’s Billy Kane, who is scheduled to have surgery soon to repair a torn ACL he suffered earlier this season, showed up for Friday’s boys lacrosse game against Farmingdale ready — and willing — to play.

“His mother wrote a note and he came with his uniform and equipment and said it couldn’t get much worse so why not play,” said Long Beach coach Jim Kaspar. “There was no way I’d put him in, but to tell you the truth, we need guys. We’re really banged up.”

Long Beach (11-0, 4-0) remained undefeated after its 7-5 non-league comeback victory over Farmingdale without Kane, who was a starting midfielder, and with top-scorer James Forkin playing with an injured hamstring. The win was Long Beach’s sixth against a Conference I team this season. The Marines’ next challenge comes Tuesday in a Conference II game against Garden City (7-2, 4-0), the defending Class B state champion. The last time Long Beach lost a game was last May in the Nassau Class B semifinal matchup — against Garden City.

With an undefeated season and Conference II supremacy on the line, Forkin said he’s playing for at least as long as the team remains unbeaten, despite the nagging hamstring injury.

“I’ve been able to play through it,” Forkin said. “The one good thing is that with me somewhat limited, others have stepped up to make plays and know how to perform in situations. I’m looking forward to playing Garden City, and I really think we have a chance at staying undefeated.”

And with several mounting injuries and a limited number of players on the roster, Long Beach needs Forkin’s slick stick in the lineup.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Kaspar said. “He’s such a great player and tremendous athlete that he’s playing through this. He’s usually able to get past four defenders no problem, and I think he had a little more trouble doing that today [against Farmingdale]. I think if we would’ve lost a game or two before, I wouldn’t play him. But we only have 20 kids and three kids can't play.”

Some players who can be on the field admitted to some fatigue but have stepped up nonetheless. Jake Brown, a standout defender who was a catalyst in Friday’s win by causing several turnovers late in the game, said the team has grown together and matured in persevering through the injuries.

Brown, who will likely defend Garden City’s top scorer Justin Guterding on Tuesday, added that “finger-pointing” after mishaps — an issue last season — no longer happens, and the focus is on remaining undefeated, regardless of who is healthy enough to play.

“We’re still a little sore, and we’re banged up but the tough schedule is awesome,” Brown said. “It’s a lot more fun when you're playing good teams, and it’s key to developing guys who may not have been ready before the season, because they’re certainly ready now.”