There are no franchise tags in high school sports. Eventually, the best players graduate.
That doesn’t seem to matter to the Garden City girls laGarden City girls lacrosse team, which had won seven state Class B championships from 2006-2012. Despite the loss of 17 seniors, the Trojans plan to renovate, not rebuild.
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“This won’t be a rebuilding season. The goal is prove that although we lost some great players, other girls are here to step up,” coach Diane Chapman said. “We aren’t the same team as last season but we are Garden City lacrosse.”
Senior midfielder Celia Concannon isn’t concerned. “We have a strong sophomore and junior class with plenty of talent,” she said.
Major keys for Concannon and captains Devon Heaney (attack) and Kaitlyn Larsson (goalie) are helping the younger girls gain confidence and strengthening their team unity.
“This year we are really going to stress being a teammate and working as a unit. We really want to help the girls and prepare them for next year” Heaney said. “We’re all close on and off the field and I think that will help us get back to states.”
Garden City isn’t the only school that’s lost some key players.
“It’s a big rebuilding year for a lot of teams,” said Manhasset Coach Danielle Gallagher.
Garden City’s class rival lost an important chunk of their defense. In the preseason, Gallagher has moved players to new positions and strengthened all of the girl’s skills.
“We’re reloading. Different kids have to step up all the time. You can’t rely on two kids. Then you’re easy to beat,” Gallagher said. “The goal is to grow and mature and function as a team.”
Juniors Madison Rielly (attack), Krissy Kowalski (goalie) and senior midfielder Madison Miller are all “vocal leaders” for the team.
“Coach always tells us to follow the motto “Earn It,” said Rielly.
“Each day you have to come out and earn your spot. Nothing is given,” Kowalski added. “This is a slightly new team but we are going to work hard… It’s one game at a time until we make it to the state championship.”
Wantagh has more problems than a new roster. The Warriors moved down to Class C, graduated a number of offensive players and welcomed coach Greg Cody, who isn’t interested in past players.
“Everyone wants to talk about what we lost but I want to talk about what we have,” Cody said. “I see four dedicated seniors ready… and I’m impressed with what they have.”
Cody is referring to midfielders Megan Gordon and Alexandra Murphy, along with goalie Emma Lemanski and attack Taylor Carson.
The Warriors’ goal is to ride the wave of success with a new board. Murphy says the coaches are changing the pace of practice and bringing in new ideas.
“Our defense is the same and really good. We have a bunch of leaders and we’re going to work hard as a team,” said Carson.
Cody chimed, “I want to come in and keep the winning tradition alive.”
The Nassau Class B contention has included Garden City, Manhasset and Wantagh as the top seeded team. With Wantagh in a new class and significant changes to Garden City and Manhasset, will Long Beach and Seaford come into the fold?
The girls are looking forward to the new blood.
“We’re going to play a lot of competitive teams this year,” Larsson said. We are looking forward to playing our rivals.”