Tara Gerstacker is the go-to girl for the Eastport-South Manor offense, as the Stony Brook-bound attack already has nine goals through the first two games.

But on defense, the Sharks have found a youthful star in seventh-grade goalie Samantha Giacolone. Through the first two games (both wins), Giacolone has made 31 saves, and in the process, has received high praise from first-year ESM coach Justin White.

"I have to take a step back during practice and in games because the things she's been doing are incredible," said White, who himself played goalie at Ward Melville, and in college at Dowling and SUNY Oneonta. "She has incredible makeup, she's mature beyond her years."

Giacolone, who only has 13 years under her belt, emerged in offseason "open-gym" practices and in the preseason to earn the starting job.

White added that Giacolone "saved them" in the first two games — an 11-10 double-overtime win at Sachem North and a 12-10 victory over Deer Park — with crucial saves late in each contest.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I've never seen anything like it," said White, a former Riverhead boys lacrosse coach who compared Giacolone's talent to that of former Blue Waves football and lacrosse star Miguel Maysonet.

Giacolone is the daughter of ESM softball coach Steve Giacolone and Theresa Giacolone, who was the first All American (third-team in 1992) in University of North Carolina softball's history. But Samantha picked up a lacrosse stick at a young age, and hasn't looked back.

She and Gerstacker are looking to push an ESM team that finished 13-6 last season and lost in the Class B semifinals to eventual champion Sayville (the third straight year Sayville has ended the Sharks' season), into Division II's elite teams.

Said White of his young talent: "I'm going to enjoy the ride with her."

To read more about the Sharks and all of the Island's girls lacrosse programs, check out our Spring Preview secton on April 11.