This was a statement game for the Garden City lacrosse team.
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Yes, a statement game for the Trojans . . . in April.
"We needed to redeem ourselves for last year," midfielder Michaela Bruno said. "We felt like we had something to prove."
That Garden City still is -- gasp! -- Garden City. And the proof of that was Tuesday's 11-6 win over host Wantagh in Nassau Conference I.
Kerry Defliese scored four goals and Jenn Medjid had three as the Trojans (12-0) topped the Warriors, who had upset them in the county semifinals last season.
"It was definitely a big game," Defliese said. "We wanted redemption."
There's that word again. Not revenge, but redemption. Because for all the luster of their legacy and those record 13 state titles, the Trojans were perhaps bumped down a peg in that 7-5 loss to upstart Wantagh.
What's more, the Warriors entered this game loaded -- stocked with stars and undefeated -- serving as something like a measuring stick. Well, Garden City still stands tall.
Defliese continued to thrive in her new role as the team's go-to scorer, and the defense stymied a Wantagh attack that entered averaging 13.8 goals.
Medjid scored off a feed from Margot McTiernan to give Garden City a 7-6 lead with 19:26 remaining, and the Trojans pulled away in the final minutes. Bruno and Brooke McDaid each added a goal and two assists.
"Wantagh is an exceptional team, so we knew we had to play great team defense," said Kristen Adams, who along with Morgayne Rix, leads the defense. "We had to be alert, communicate and have our secondary slides be perfect. And we did that."
Wantagh took an early 2-0 lead on goals by Kaitlyn Cerasi and Darcie Smith, but the Trojans responded with a 4-0 run, capped by Defliese's bouncer from 6 yards on a free position with 13:55 to go before halftime. She added two late goals to seal the win.
Cerasi had three goals and two assists, and Grace Beshlian made five saves for Wantagh (12-1).
Defliese, who has a team-high 36 goals, already has more than doubled her total from last year as her role in the offense has expanded.
"She's gone from the ground-ball girl to the scorer," Bruno said of Defliese, a close friend since the first grade. "It shows how good she is, that she could change her game to fit what the team needed."
Added coach Diane Chapman: "She has really come into her own. She's got great game sense and can get free off the ball and get passes from teammates."
Many of them from Bruno, who leads the Trojans with 23 assists. She and Defliese have formed quite a tandem with an on-field rapport they describe as "telepathic."
"I think we've been playing together since we started walking," Defliese joked. "We don't need to say anything or signal, we just know where the other is. That chemistry is what makes it work."
This contest also served as a fundraiser for Wantagh's "All in for Alexa" campaign. The game was played in honor of Alexa Boylan, a 6-month-old from Wantagh who is undergoing treatment for leukemia. The lacrosse team has raised money during the season and Garden City contributed, purchasing T-shirts and donating the proceeds from its own bake sale. Wantagh raised more than $5,300, which will be donated to the Boylan family, Warriors coach Jaclyn Coyne said.