Manhasset head coach Bill Cherry gets a Gatorade bath as...

Manhasset head coach Bill Cherry gets a Gatorade bath as time runs out in the championship game versus Corning East. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

For Manhasset, the whole was definitely greater than some of its parts. How else to explain a second consecutive state Class C championship after losing 21 seniors, including Connor English, who scored 81 goals in 2009, and two decorated defensive players in John Duvnjak and Brad Cappellini?

"It's the closest-knit team I've ever been on," said senior midfielder Drew Belinsky, the leading scorer with 46 goals and 19 assists and a 2010 All-American selection.

And surely the best-conditioned. "We work hard. That's no joke," coach Bill Cherry said. "We do a lot of running, probably more than most track teams, and practices are long. We were in sweats up until 80 degrees to prepare for the playoffs. Give credit to the kids; they did everything we asked them to do."

Unity and hard work are nice, but the Indians aren't the only team on Long Island to embody those principles. Talent and results produce state championships, and who knew that Manhasset had plenty of talent just waiting for the chance to flourish in 2010? And who knew that the results would be perfect - a 20-0 season and a state-best 36-game winning streak?

"It feels great because nobody expected us to be this good. We started 48th in the country and moved all the way up," said junior goalie Frank Morelli, who, like the team, did some moving up himself.

Morelli replaced injured starter Chris Boukas and became a key element as Manhasset finished No. 2 nationally behind West Islip in Inside Lacrosse's final poll. Manhasset's defense, led by Morelli and sophomore All-American Rob Duvnjak, John's brother, surrendered only 4.35 goals per game.

While only Cold Spring Harbor posed any serious challenge in Class C - a 7-2 decision in the regular season and a tense 7-5 county final - Manhasset has never been afraid to step up in class. The Indians beat Long Island Class B champion Garden City, 7-6, in the annual Woodstick Classic and edged CHSAA Class AAA runner-up Chaminade by the same score in a non-league game.

The playoffs were a breeze compared with those heated games and all those hot practices. Manhasset clearly belonged at the head of the class after a 13-4 state semifinal victory over Putnam Valley and a 19-6 pasting of Corning East in the state title game.

There were three hat tricks in the semifinals - by junior Matt Tompkins and the Moroney brothers, senior Pat and sophomore Quinn. Four players - Belinsky, Tompkins, Pat Moroney and senior Chris Cook - each had three goals in the finale.

So hats off to the 2010 Indians. "Once we won it last year, that was the so-called 'Dream Team.' This year was kind of a rebuilding year," senior faceoff specialist Ricky Buhr said. "Most of the community doubted us, that we would be some Joe Schmo team."

They weren't schmos, they were champs. "We knew we had talent but how were they going to jell?" Cherry said. "The seniors did a great job. They are the ones who tied everything together with the juniors and sophomores."

The replacement parts were a perfect fit.

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months