Stick skills, field vision, speed, shooting accuracy and . . . poetry?
Yes, West Babylon's lady lacrosse players are flexing their literary muscles this season, as players are giving an oration of their favorite inspirational poem before every game. So far it's working, with the Eagles winning their first five games by a combined 84-28.
"It's not like some little girlie poem," said Eagles All-American Alyssa Murray, who will likely be the state's all-time assists leader by next week. "We're a real deep team. Little things like that are symbolic."
By deep, she meant philosophical, but West Babylon, the preseason favorite, also has depth in a tangible sense with seven senior starters. All-County attack Samantha Rush is generally the beneficiary of Murray's passes, and Rutgers-bound Holly DiMuro anchors a stout defense.
DiMuro is likely to be given the unenviable task of stopping All-American Shannon Gilroy of defending county champion Northport, the Eagles' top contender, when they meet April 30. Flanking Gilroy for the Tigers is diminutive attack Courtney Fortunato, a 70-goal scorer last season, and Megan Marinelli is the last line of defense in front of two-year starting goalie Michaela Aymong.
Northwestern-bound middie Alyssa Leonard leads the Bay Shore charge, along with Shelby Vaccaro (Sacred Heart) and All-County defender Marissa O'Meally.
West Islip netminder Alyssa Costantino (Syracuse) is the foundation of the Lions' defense, and Stefani Jackson and Devan Crimi, who will remain teammates at Adelphi next season, pace the offense.
Bria Hartley and Nicole Marzocca lead North Babylon, Octavia Williams paces Floyd, and Florida-bound Kelsey Dlugos is the go-to girl for Commack.
Lindenhurst, piloted by Kelsey Russo, and Ward Melville, behind goalie Jen Walsh and Jess Liberty on attack, will also be in the Division I hunt.
Looking to reclaim its perch atop Class B, which it had for three straight seasons before Sayville took it away last year, Rocky Point returns an 86-goal scorer in All-American Kara Mupo. Sam Mazzeo should return from an ACL injury this week to bolster the offense, which gets fed by midfielder Caitlin Gargan.
Sayville returns nine of 12 starters from last year's county title team, including All-County performers Jordan Lite and Emily Meier, both midfielders, and goalie Heather Bonamico, who will enter the Navy upon graduation. Eastport-South Manor is up-and-coming with Stony Brook-bound attack Tara Gerstacker, an honorable mention All-American, and seventh-grader Samantha Giacolone in net.
Hauppauge returns scorers Jennifer Porretto and Taylor Ranftle, Jamie Romano provides instant offense for Kings Park, and Emily Pugliese leads Huntington.Islip brings back Kara Rafferty and Kerri Nicolich.
Though rich in talent, Suffolk has had just one team win a state title - Shoreham-Wading River, which is the three-time defending "C'' champ. A pair of 50-goal scorers, All-Americans Kait Brosco (midfield) and Jen DeVito (attack), return for the Wildcats. Harvard-bound Chelsey Newman joins Brosco in the midfield, and Erin McMullan, who'll join DeVito at Yale next year, is an experienced and talented netminder. Shoreham-Wading River took a hit with the loss of Corinne Wiederkehr, a tall attack who tore her ACL playing basketball and is out for the season.
Mount Sinai, behind Shannon Burns and Rachel Dillon, Glenn, led by Princeton-bound Mary-Kate Sivilli and Bayport-Blue Point, paced by Loren Generi, will challenge Shoreham-Wading River. Center Moriches is playing its inaugural season.