Progress: a 9-5 loss against host and Conference C powerhouse Cold Spring Harbor on April 25.

Perspective: "It's a positive way to move forward for us," Mineola senior attack Tim Gill said. "Because in the recent past, we would get our doors blown off, like 15-3 losses or something like that."

After years of mediocrity, "too many," as Gill put it, the Mineola boys lacrosse team is 9-2 this season and believes it is finally closing the gap between them and the typical conference contenders.

"Last year, we won a playoff game for the first time since the mid-1990s so we kind of surprised some people, but this year we think we can take the next step," coach Glenn Cocoman said. "The people in this town are proud of what they're doing."

The Mustangs will be tested this week, however. First, they'll host Locust Valley (9-3) Monday. Then, they'll visit defending Class C county champion Friends Academy (10-2) Wednesday.

Gill, who has 20 goals and 29 assists, is looking forward to the challenges.

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"I see a lot of progress in Mineola lacrosse," said Gill, a four-year varsity player. "This year we realized other teams are just like us; they put the helmet on the same way. It bothers us every day that we were close last year, in getting to a semifinal, but lost. We've been talking about putting up a banner that says 2014."

Junior goalie John Clancy, who started as a sophomore, attributed much of the team's turnaround to Cocoman, who is in his second year. The Mustangs started to play together as a team during the summer and winter seasons upon Cocoman's arrival, and Clancy said that has improved the team's chemistry.

"Last year we realized we are good and could play so going into this year that gave us a lot of confidence," Clancy said. "In our game against Cold Spring Harbor, we played very good. It was close at halftime and 6-4 after the third quarter, which was pretty awesome because we had a shot."