Nassau's power conference offers no easy games

Wantagh senior Colleen Lovett looks to get a Wantagh senior Colleen Lovett looks to get a shot on goal. (March 18, 2013) Photo Credit: James Escher

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Sure, Cold Spring Harbor's girls lacrosse team would have loved to breeze through its conference schedule unimpeded, as it did the previous two seasons. But that's already off the table after Wednesday's season-opening loss to Wantagh.

And no, it wasn't a non-league game. Wantagh, a Class B elite, is now a division rival for Class C's Cold Spring Harbor -- as are several other large-school powers, including Farmingdale, Massapequa and Garden City.

Nassau realigned its conferences this season, grouping teams of comparable talent and reputation, regardless of school size, for the purpose of parity. The 10 best teams, determined by a coaches' poll, were placed in Conference I, which has been nicknamed "the power league.'' The teams will return to their respective classes for the playoffs.

Gone is Conference C, which was dominated by North Shoreand Cold Spring Harbor. But with those two the only Class C squads in the big conference, are they out of their proverbial league?

"I'm all for it,'' CSH coach Danielle Skakandi said. "We don't need an undefeated record. If it means we're playing great competition and being constantly tested in preparation for the playoffs, I'll take some losses. That's a fair trade.''

North Shore coach Jeff Butt echoed those sentiments. His team opened with a loss to Garden City, the seven-time defending state "B'' champ.

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"Every game now will be against a team that can give you a run for your money,'' Manhasset coach Danielle Gallagher said. "It'll keep us all on our toes.''

Certainly, considering half the division (Farmingdale, Manhasset, Garden City, Massapequa, Wantagh) was ranked among the nation's top 45 last year. Cold Spring Harbor was 55th and North Shore 64th. The others (Port Washington, Long Beach, Plainedge) made playoff runs.

"This is good for the sport, and you can't be afraid of a challenge,'' Farmingdale coach Shari Campbell said. Her team was Nassau's preseason No. 1 seed. "Why not have playoff intensity in the regular season?''

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