Noticeably absent from Smithtown East's 16-15 Division I win at North Babylon on Tuesday afternoon was Bulls midfielder Nicole Daniggelis, who is out for the season with a torn ACL in her left knee.

Well, she was absent from the field at least.

Daniggelis was on the sidelines, saddled with crutches and a full leg brace on her left leg, cheering on her team and filling out the stat sheet. The tall sophomore was hurt in a 14-13 overtime loss to Ward Melville on April 20, a game in which she scored three goals.

In the eight games she played this season, Daniggelis, one of the "rising stars" among our preseason players to watch, racked up 24 goals and 14 assists.

Though Smithtown East improved to 3-1 without Daniggelis yesterday, Bulls coach Catherine Guerriere said the team has had to alter its offense without her in the lineup.

"Nicole was a big part of our offense and it's been a lot of different players filling the role of her job," the coach said. "We've been spreading our scoring and talent more."

While Shannon O'Connor and Christine O'Reilly (pictured, right) continue to pace the Bulls in scoring, they've needed girls such as Marisa Grennan, who scored the game-winner yesterday, to step up in Daniggelis' place.

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"Losing Nicole was really hard," O'Reilly said. "We're trying to come together and edge ourselves into the playoffs."

At 3-7 in Division I, that may seem like a longshot. But, as of this morning, Smithtown East was 14th in Division I (the top 11 advance to the postseason), just 5.5 power points behind 11th-place Half Hollow Hills.

So with four games remaining (all at home) — including winnable games against Longwood (0-9) and Whitman (3-6) before finishing the season with a banged-up West Babylon team and Floyd — a playoff run isn't out of the question for the Bulls.

As for Daniggelis, she'll miss the rest of this season and next tennis season. But she'll have surgery as soon as the swelling in her knee subsides, and is expected to be ready to go next lacrosse season.

For now, she'll stick to her crutches and the scorebook.