Manhasset taking the field to Drake's "Started from the Bottom" held a bit more significance to the players than the usual warm-up tune. The song's theme, they said, has become somewhat of a mantra for this group.
Even though the Indians are among the Long Island favorites in Class B girls lacrosse? Even though being ranked 21st in the country last year, theoretically, puts them closer to the top?
"The rankings don't matter," senior Alice Coughlin said. "We've got a chip on our shoulder."
If that's the case, the Indians brushed off some debris Saturday, topping powerhouse Chatham (N.J.), 14-7, in a non-league game at home.
Natalie Stefan, Sarah Barcia and Lindsey Ronbeck each scored three goals for Manhasset (3-0), and its defense dominated. Lest we forget: Chatham had beaten the Indians last season by an identical score en route to a national No. 7 ranking.
“There was a little bit of a revenge factor,” defender Emily Markham said. “Their top scorer broke some record of theirs that day and they had a ceremony, so that kind of stuck in our heads. We wanted to be the ones coming out on top this time.”
Manhasset fell behind 2-0 less than 10 minutes in but charged back with a 6-0 run. Stefan's goal, off a feed from Barcia, tied it and Ronbeck scored – on a bullet into the upper right corner from 7 yards – to give the Indians a 3-2 lead 8:22 before the half.
"We had a rocky start with some jitters, but we got them out and pulled it together," Barcia said. "Once that happened, everything started flowing. We really wanted to show what we’ve got this year."
Manhasset's turnaround started from the bottom . . . of the field. The defense – led by Markham and Kate Conway – applied constant pressure, making it difficult for the Cougars even to cross midfield at times. The Indians forced seven turnovers and allowed only nine shots on goal. Maddy Molinari won four draw controls and Kelsey Quackenbush had two saves in the win.
"We were coming in and out of zone and whenever the ball hit the middle, we crashed," Markham said. "Once we fell behind, we wanted to change the momentum with our defense."
Kristen Maiorano scored twice and Hannah Reader had nine saves for Chatham (2-1). Maiorano’s second goal pulled them within 7-5 early in the second half, but Julia Glynn answered with an overpowering overhand shot from 8 yards right with 19:38 remaining. And Barcia added two goals during a 4-0 run that essentially sealed the win.
"Last year we could barely hang with them," Stefan said. "For us to perform like this, I think it makes a really big statement."
That statement being: Regardless of where Manhasset's starting point was, they certainly appear to be headed upward.