Garden City girls overcame tough losses for state title

Garden City captains Jenna Fuchs (7), Alexandra Bruno Garden City captains Jenna Fuchs (7), Alexandra Bruno (1) and Catherine Dickinson (13) raise their championship plaque after beating Wantagh in the Nassau Class B girls lacrosse final. (May 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Should a final picture be painted of Garden City's girls lacrosse season, it would be of goalie Megan McDonald, arms raised and in a full strut, as teammates raced toward her.

The horn had just sounded in the state final and the scoreboard read "13-8," indicating the Trojans had conquered Class B for a seventh straight year. It was their picture-perfect moment.

But, lest spectators be misled by the trophy count, this wasn't just another championship for Garden City, and this season's tale isn't one of a juggernaut again charging unimpeded. Oh, no.

This team had five losses. That's well short of an astonishing number, but consider this: Only two players on the Trojans roster had ever experienced defeat on the lacrosse field before this year.

Full appreciation of last Saturday's scene at SUNY-Cortland calls for a few snapshots from the regular season.

April 21: Garden City, ranked second in the country the previous two years, finally had its crack at No. 1 McDonogh (Md.), but the Trojans lost, 20-9. There went a 55-game win streak that dated back to 2009 and, with it, a chance at the top spot. "Everyone was devastated," senior Alexandra Bruno said. "We were the ones to ruin the streak and people were emotional."

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April 22: Unable to rebound overnight, Garden City suffered an 8-3 loss to Baltimore's Bryn Mawr, dropping from the national top 10. "That's a game we should've won," senior Jenna Fuchs said, "but the McDonogh loss was in our heads all weekend."

April 28: A 14-9 loss to St. Anthony's was, essentially, the forfeiture of Long Island supremacy. "Losing was something most of us weren't used to," senior Catherine Dickinson said, "and it was tough to deal with."

May 1: Farmingdale, on a late goal, edged Garden City, 13-12. So there went the Nassau bragging rights. "I cried after that one," Bruno admitted.

May 9: A 13-9 loss to rival Manhasset was the Trojans' first to a Class B opponent.

By that point, questions about this team had become more than whispered hypotheticals. How much do they miss the four All-Americans from 2011? Can they even win the county title?

But when the playoffs began, coach Diane Chapman said, "None of that mattered anymore. We were seven wins from our goal."

A "do-or-die" sense of urgency amplified the team's intensity, Chapman said, and with each step in the postseason, confidence grew. "We'd done it before," Dickinson said, "and we knew what it would take."

Fuchs said the job of the team's leaders -- eight seniors among them -- was to "get everyone regrouped and focused on the big picture."

Think of each victory as a brush stroke, and the 2012 portrait became clearer -- dominance somewhat faded, but resilience emboldened.

This group, in falling from the perch its predecessors helped mount only to climb back, "really made a name for ourselves," Fuchs said. "We faced the challenges and overcame them."

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That imperfect 17-5 record is Garden City's perfection. "It's even more incredible than going undefeated," Bruno said. "We did this when a lot of people didn't think we could."

On this season's blotched canvas they painted a masterpiece.

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