Ian Laviano said he felt ill April 5. His throat and nose were clogged and he said he caught the flu. But he never pondered sitting out the game against Hicksville that day, and postponing his first start on Cold Spring Harbor's varsity boys lacrosse team -- as an eighth-grader.
When Allen Winkoff, who leads the team in scoring, was switched from attack to midfield, a starting position opened. After scoring four goals with an assist through five games off the bench, Laviano was told by coach Dennis Bonn he earned a spot in the starting lineup. In other words, a goal Laviano set in the second grade -- to start a varsity game before his freshman year -- was forthcoming.
Healthy or not, he wasn't going to miss it. "It was really hard for me to play because I was sick," Laviano said. "But I don't think it affected my play. I played fairly good."
The 14-year-old had two goals and two assists in the 9-3 non-league win over Hicksville, a Conference I opponent. In four games since becoming a starter, Laviano has 11 points (six goals, five assists). Despite standing a modest 5-7 and weighing 135 pounds, Laviano's success doesn't surprise his coach.
"He's a very special player at this age. He's somewhat small, not small for an eighth-grader, but he's small for a varsity player," said Bonn, CSH's coach since 2000. "His stick skills are as good as anybody that we have, and his lacrosse IQ is probably one of the top ones we have. He stands out every day."
Bonn isn't the only one impressed.
"I think Ian will be one of the top players in Nassau, if not the country, in a couple of years," said Winkoff, a senior. "He was accepted by everyone because he works hard every day."
Laviano is the second eighth-grader to make Cold Spring Harbor's varsity team. Greg Pyser was the first in 1998. Students in seventh grade and older are allowed to play on senior high school teams as long as they pass the physical.
Taylor Strough also made this year's team as an eighth-grader, but is not expected to play significant minutes.
Playing at a higher level is nothing new for Laviano. He won back-to-back Dick's Sporting Goods National Tournament of Champions MVPs as a sixth-grader and seventh-grader while playing for the Tenacious Turtles' eighth-grade team.
With one goal quickly accomplished, Laviano has an impressive list of others that he'd like to achieve.
"I just want to be the best that I can be," Laviano said. "Hopefully, I can play Division I lacrosse in college. I have to work on a lot of things, though. I can improve on every part of my offensive game and I just want to be better at everything."