Danielle Rivas is hoping she and the East Meadow field hockey team will face Massapequa in the Nassau Class A championship game.
Yes, the senior midfielder knows the Chiefs are currently on a dynastic run of six consecutive county titles. And of course she remembers getting eliminated by Massapequa in the same game last year.
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But this is her final chance to match a family legacy set by her sister Tracy. Rivas said Tracy scored the winning goal against Massapequa in the Nassau Class A championship game in 2008.
"It would be unimaginable," said Rivas, a captain and returning all-county player. She and forward Kelly Clarke headline an experienced and capable group of nine seniors.
East Meadow coach Courtney Castle said the team has strong offensive and transitional play, adding that defensive zone struggles are a thing of the past. She believes Massapequa and Baldwin will be East Meadow's toughest competitors.
The Chiefs return their top two leading scorers in Caitlyn O'Connor and Bridgett Neal, both junior forwards, and are expected to be strong on both sides of the ball. Massapequa's tradition of success commands respect, but doesn't guarantee anything in a strong class.
Baldwin returns eight starters from last year's team, which lost to East Meadow in the Class A semifinals. Daniella Specht, who led the team in points last year as a freshman, is back at forward, along with senior Christy Davis. Baldwin coach Mike Hoover said Specht is due for a breakout year.
The goal couldn't be higher for Garden City, a perennial powerhouse, which lost to Lakeland in the state Class B final last year.
Michaela Bruno, Newsday's 2014 Nassau Player of the Year, leads a group that is talented all over the field. Midfielder Taylor Gladd, defender Natalie Garcia and goalie Sabrina Milone, a returning all-county player, bolster a team coach Diane Chapman said isn't much different from last year's squad.
Multiple Class B coaches expect Garden City to be a front-runner, in part thanks to its depth last season. Chapman said theteam brings back only five starters, but believes a return to the state final is within reach.
Cold Spring Harbor and Manhasset are among the teams hoping to compete with Garden City.
Cold Spring Harbor, which lost to Garden City in the Class B final, boasts 14 seniors, including Courtney Kennedy, All-Long Island forward Lauren Paolano and goalie Kylie Tsotsos.
Junior Sarah Weppler leads Manhasset's front line and senior Regan Moroney controls the midfield. Manhasset coach Steve Sproul said the team has improved its speed, endurance and stick skills since getting eliminated by Cold Spring Harbor in the Class B semifinals.
Clarke and Locust Valley are programs on the rise and New Hyde Park, which made the Class B quarterfinals last season, and North Shore are rebuilding.
Although North Shore lost key seniors, standouts Maddy and Frankie Conklin remain as anchors on the team. The sisters, a senior midfielder and junior goalie, respectively, were both second-team All-Long Island selections last year.
Carle Place senior Elissa Frein returns for the Nassau Class C champions. Frein had a prolific offensive season, leading Long Island with 59 points and setting a Nassau record with 49 goals.
Her responsibility will be magnified as one of only three seniors, Carle Place coach Carol Nesdill said. But Frein has delivered under pressure before, notably with a three-goal performance in last year's Class C title game.
The team is inexperienced defensively, but is a likely candidate to repeat as champion in a class rounded out by Oyster Bay and Wheatley.