Division I-bound senior Melanie Raso helps lead a lightning-quick Farmingdale....

Division I-bound senior Melanie Raso helps lead a lightning-quick Farmingdale. (File photo, 2009) Credit: Frank Koester

Round up the usual suspects.

Defending champions Farmingdale, Garden City and Manhasset are once again favored to take home the Nassau girls lacrosse crowns. Last season's runners-up, Massapequa, Wantagh and North Shore, again lead the early contenders.

The question for 2010 becomes who, if anyone, can challenge the status quo? Teams such as Port Washington, Hicksville and Oceanside in Class A; South Side and Calhoun in B and Cold Spring Harbor and Friends Academy in C certainly have the talent to crash the county finals party. But will the top teams be welcoming new guests?

CLASS A

Farmingdale won its first state title and finished last season ranked No. 1 in the country, according to Lacrosse Magazine. Division I-bound seniors Melanie Raso and Alyssa Cardillo lead a lightning-quick attack that also features Jamie Leone and Kyra Ochwat. Kelly McPartland leads a strong midfield. The defense is all new, as is junior goalie Alexandra Gurecki.

Massapequa is rebuilding but the Chiefs have a great feeder system and coaching, so they will not be down for long. Sophomore Rory Sadoff is the only returning starter on attack. Classmate Kelsey O'Brien should help on offense. Senior defender Jackie Tierney provides leadership.

Oceanside is strong on offense with returning seniors Justine Clark, Lauren Schlitt and Amanda Thorner. All-Conference senior Tina Pumo leads the defense.

Kate Culhane, Shannon McDonald and Brittney Hoehing have done the early scoring for county semifinalist Hicksville.

Port Washington opened the season with four straight wins behind cousins Alexa and Jackie Froccaro.

CLASS B

Garden City is setting its sights on a fifth straight state title. The Trojans have 12 seniors, including Division I-bound captains Shannon Mangini (Penn), Mariah Pewarski (Harvard) and Shannon Defliese (UMass). Mangini teams with juniors Mikaela Rix, Barbara Sullivan and sophomore Catherine Dickinson for one of L.I.'s best midfields. Pewarski and Defliese lead the defense in front of junior goalie Kelly Weis.

Perpetually chasing Garden City is Wantagh. The Warriors' core is a talented junior class led by All-County attack Paula Schmidt, who has a great eye for the goal. Juniors April Ianetta, Colleen Lovett and goalie Kelly Keenan, who takes over for her sister Katie, also will have an impact. Attack Jackie Sileo and defender Meaghan Smith are senior leaders.

South Side moves up to Conference I and would like to slip into the county final. Sam Morin and Jackie Cifarelli lead a dangerous offense and goaltender Kelsey Gregerson is one of L.I.'s best.

Calhoun has had early scoring from Diandra Hanna, Ava Fitzgerald and Erin Green and should be in the semifinal mix. Division lost seven seniors from its county semifinalist, but has plenty of athletes. The core of the team is juniors Christina Rea, Taylor Malings and Julie Ballantyne.

Plainedge could be the surprise in Conference II. Sophomore Kathleen Kennedy had four goals and two assists in a victory over Calhoun.

CLASS C

Manhasset is looking for its seventh straight county title. Kerri Fleishhacker sets up the offense. Helping her up front will be sophomore Halle Majorana and junior Jenny Vlahos. Defense will be a strength. Holy Cross-bound senior Maggie Reichenbach and juniors Meg Markham and Cara Cappellini will help out Gettysburg-bound goalie Jen Levy.

North Shore graduated only three seniors from the 2009 county semifinalists. Senior Kathleen Lennon has great stick skills and leads the attack. Lauren Janelli and Amanda Johansen highlight the midfield. Quick senior goalie Kristen Jovanello returns.

Cold Spring Harbor is tough on offense, with Victoria Kotowski and Elizabeth Ludlow, and defense with Michelle Abramczyk and goalie Colleen Nofi.

Friends Academy with Meredith Mangiarotti and Kelsey Denihan, Mineola with Samantha Stavish and Kerry and Kalie Medlock and Carle Place with Taylor Martello and Alice Dawson, should be playoff teams.