Quick intro: Hi, I’m Stephen Haynes. You may know me from such blogs as field hockey, basketball, softball and The Underblog. You may also have no idea who I am. If so, I’m one of the lacrosse writers this season (along with James “Not Jimmer” Crepea) and you may soon be seeing us on a sideline near you.

Anyway, a few hours from the Showdown of the Century (not quite, but definitely the Saturday) - it called for some blogging about today’s matchup of Garden City vs. St. Anthony’s at high noon. Many believe it to be a meeting of Long Island's best girls lacrosse teams. With St. Anthony’s ranked #1 by ESPN Rise and Garden City slotting at No. 10, it could be the best matchup New York has to offer.

So, be excited!

St. Anthony’s returns 10 starters from last year’s team, which won a third consecutive Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA championship. And they’ve got all-star team talent: 13 players with D-I commitments, including a couple All-Americans.

“This is the fastest team I've ever coached,” Corinne Broesler said. “I’ve loved all the teams I’ve had, but this one is the most talented; most potential. I think it’s the first time every single kid played in the summer. We’ve never had a full team of kids play lacrosse year-round.”

In the other corner we’ve got the Garden City Trojans of Cortland. Not actually the team name, but it could be, considering how frequently they visit the town that hosts the state tournament. And they’ve conquered the tournament five straight years. They won last year’s Class B state title in a blowout and return most of their core, including four All-Americans and plenty of D-I signees of their own.

An argument could certainly be made that the teams are on par with each other. Most likely, the difference is St. Anthony’s strength of schedule. While Garden City is somewhat restricted in the number of non-league games it can book, St. Anthony’s will run the gauntlet with some of their tough out-of-state opponents. It’s like a McLaren and a Bugati driving different courses - tough to measure.

But we’ll have a better idea of what’s what after today’s clash of the titans (promise I won’t use “clash of the titans” or any other lame cliché for it in the story… unless I can’t think of anything and get desperate).

During the Newsday Players to Watch photo shoot, I asked the Garden City and St. Anthony’s representatives what they thought of the upcoming game. So, naturally, some trash-talking went down. It was mostly Kelly Weis (one “S”) and Barbara Sullivan vs. Kerrin Maurer. Got spirited. Some guarantees were made and what not. All in fun, though.

“I have a bunch of friends on that team,” Maurer later said of the Trojans. “A bunch of the girls have played with each other. It'll probably be our biggest game, the one that'll set the tone for the rest of the season.”

Also: Check out the Players to Watch photo gallery online, here. Parents, be proud, then show it off to friends and co-workers. Kids, upload your photo to Facebook and brag to your friends about it. You’ve earned it… Thanks to everyone for showing up to the photo shoot and being patient. They were all so well-behaved (for the most part). And thanks to whoever the folks are out there who rated the photo gallery four stars. That stuff is noticed and appreciated.

Also 2: Be sure to pick up Sunday’s paper. That’s the one with the big spring preview section we’ve been working on. The fruit of the countless phone calls to coaches (we thank you, too, for your patience), the late-night scrambles for information, the “I’ll be up until 3 a.m., so call me back whenever” voicemails. So, when we’re able to wrap that up, it’s a fun time. The section will have info on a bunch of teams, head shots of the Players to Watch (for the people who prefer photos in the paper to the JPEGs on the interwebs), a listing of the Rising Stars (underclassmen on the verge of greatness) and a feature on Kerrin Maurer. I would’ve tried to let the feature be a Sunday surprise, but I know a lot of the players are close and talk a lot so any suspense in this was probably gone way before now… The write-up in the previews are shorter than in the past because this year’s section contains more photos. So if you prefer words > pics, our apologies. We tried to cram as much in as possible.

Also 3: This is an “in general.” We’re always looking for ideas and interesting items for stories, features, blogs, Sunday notes section. So if you’ve got a good idea or something you think we should know about, feel free to e-mail us.