We're almost there, folks. Most teams have two games left in the regular season before it's time to duke it out for best of the best and my precious, precious rankings will be moot. I'll be honest: it tends to get a little more arbitrary the farther down you go on the list, only because it's a mess of who's beaten who (Team A beat Team B, Team C beat Team A, but Team B beat Team C...In other words, thanks for making things difficult, Division II). That's why I often have to rely on my super-scientific method of "no, no, I'm pretty sure this team is marginally better." Think I'm wrong? You know what to do. Although I'd like to extend a hearty thank you for the Sachem East folks for choosing to overlook the fact that I left y'all off last week.
All records are overall...
1. Ward Melville (14-0) – It got waaaaaaaay too close for comfort the Patriots, who defeated East Islip 11-10 this week. It was the first time this season any team has scored in double digits against that airtight Ward Melville defense, but don’t say this team doesn’t know how to navigate its way around the slimmest of margins. The Patriots have three times won by one goal this year, though the perpetrators have been anything but the usual suspects – the other two nail-biters came courtesy of Class B Sayville and Middle Country.
On the horizon: Keep an eye on that West Babylon game on May 11. If anyone’s gonna mar this perfect regular season, it’ll might as well be the progressively improving Eagles.
2. Bay Shore (12-1) – Bay Shore played four games but STILL got a little breather compared to lits Ward Melville-Northport-Wantagh stretch o’ doom (which, by the way, turned out to be not so bad). Comfortable wins against Smithtown East, Floyd and Shoreham-Wading River just continued to prove this dynamic, well-balanced offense is no joke. Between Kyra Harney, Caroline deLyra, Carly Cox, et al, they almost make it look effortless.
On the horizon: The East Islip game on May 11 will be interesting since the Red Men came thisclose to solving Ward Melville’s backer defense, a scheme Bay Shore tends to use with marginally less success.
3. Hauppauge (13-2) – Don’t let that three spot fool yah, Hauppauge has slowed down not a bit. The Class B favorites continued their roll toward dominance with wins against Kings Park and Bayport-Blue Point (they allowed three goals each game). And don’t for a millisecond think they don’t think about Garden City’s loss to Farmingdale. The unbeatables being not-quite-so unbeatable is some tantalizing motivation.
On the horizon: The Eagles are cruising into this post-season well-rested, hungry but beatable. Want proof? Remember ESM.
4. West Babylon (10-3) – Suffolk’s dark horse is rising toward eminence, winning their last eight, and their last two by margins of five and 14. And while I’m here, let me tip my cap to Samantha Apuzzo. In the beginning of the season, it certainly seemed as if West Babylon’s offense was going to be centered entirely around Christina Esposito but Apuzzo quietly proved them wrong. As the season has progressed, she’s developed into an offensive dynamo, very much making West Babylon a two-headed hydra (I’m go on record that I like the phrase “two-headed hydra.” I feel like this will make it into one of my game stories and for this, I apologize.)
On the horizon: They can beat Sachem East, but it won’t be easy. A win over Ward Melville will be a shock, but not an impossibility.
5. Sachem East (11-3) – I’m gonna admit that I haven’t really given Sachem East the respect it deserves on this Top 10. It should’ve been here last week, despite back-to-back losses to Ward Melville and Bay Shore. It won’t be an easy road for them in the coming weeks and the end of the season will very much be a litmus test as to where this team belongs. They’ve earned this five spot. My bad. Carry on.
On the horizon: West Babylon. Northport. Destiny. Ok. Maybe not destiny…but a possible higher spot on the Top 10?
6. Eastport-South Manor (10-3) – ESM is on the rise after beating Hauppauge and keeping it close-ish (17-11) against Farmingdale, which might be the best public school team on Long Island. Goalie Samantha Giacolone has been money for the Sharks, who must smell blood in the water by now (See what I did there?).
On the horizon: Two tune-ups and a straight shot to the playoffs.
7. Shoreham-Wading River (10-3) – You really think I’m gonna beat ‘em up too much for losing to Class A Bay Shore? Yup, it could’ve been a little closer (14-5), but SWR is putting together a super-convinceing season. Prior to the Bay Shore loss, they hadn’t dropped a game since Hauppauge on April 19.
On the horizon: Sacred Heart, the team that beat SWR’s biggest competition in Mount Sinai in OT, comes to town on May 14
8. East Islip (10-4) – A one-goal loss to Ward Melville ain’t so bad and, indeed, East Islip has beaten who they’re supposed to beat, with their losses coming to Massapequa, Northport, West Babylon and Melville. They could be an excellent spoiler in the postseason or, just maybe, something more. We shall see…
On the horizon: Bay Shore on May 11. If the Red Men want to prove they’re the real deal, they have to topple a few giants on the way.
9. Mount Sinai (10-4) – Their loss to Garden City wasn’t terrible (18-12) but that defeat to Sacred Heart really hurt them in the rankings. Still, with wins over SWR and Sayville, Sinai is in good shape.
On the horizon: Two games they should win and the playoffs.
10. Northport (9-4) – They really, really, really couldn’t afford to lose to Wantagh this weekend, rankings-wise or momentum-wise. Not with Sachem East around the corner.
On the horizon: Like I said: Sachem East.