Flash and scoring pizzazz may be the common eye-opening qualities of many dominant teams, but for Massapequa boys lacrosse, defense is set to be its calling card.
Especially in the form of Kellenberg junior transfer Kenny Brower, one of Long Island’s standout defensemen.
“He’s as good as they come,” said coach Tim Radomski. “It was like Christmas Day when we heard he was coming here. He has all the intangibles, he’s tenacious, great lacrosse IQ. He brings a different element to our defense.”
Brower projects to be the defensive anchor of a Massapequa squad which finished 17-3 and fell short against Ward Melville in last year’s Long Island Class A final.
In order to take the next step in their pursuit of a Long Island championship, the Chiefs will rely heavily on the added efforts of Brower, who is committed to play for perennial powerhouse Duke in 2020.
“I definitely think I can help this team win a state championship,” Brower said. “That’s our goal this season. We can be as good as we want to be, but it all starts on the defensive end of the field.”
Radomski agrees that Brower is the type of player who could put the Chiefs over the top this year.
“He fits right in,” Radomski said. “It was like he didn’t skip a beat. He knew all the calls. He’s that extra piece of the puzzle that we’re missing.”
Although Brower acknowledges his focus on the fundamentals, at 6-2, 200 pounds he also prides himself in being somewhat of a throwback defenseman who forces opponents to earn every point the hard way.
“Physicality is a big part of my game,” Brower said. “I feel like physicality has gone away in lacrosse in the last few years. I always try to get some big hits throughout the game.”
The majority of Brower’s impact isn’t usually reflected in his stats, but Radomski noted the immediate influence of Brower’s leadership and well-channeled intensity on his new teammates.
“All three defensemen bring it,” Radomski said. “And Kenny’s just a silent leader for us. He never stops. His motor is at 110 miles per hour.”
In terms of offense and its primary source of production, Massapequa now finds itself undergoing a transitional phase. With the graduation of Brendan Nichtern, who finished second in Nassau in both goals (48) and points (93), Radomski said Massapequa is “trying to spread the love” amongst its scoring unit this year, led by senior Timmy Ley on attack.
When it comes to controlling possession, the Chiefs will turn to faceoff specialist Angelo Petrakis. Their last line of defense will be goalkeeper Mike Venezia.
Conference A boasts plenty of other well-established contenders entering this season, with Farmingdale representing one of the more intriguing storylines. Despite undergoing a coaching change upon the arrival of Mike Hungerford, the Dalers exceeded the expectations of many by finishing 13-5 and meeting the Chiefs in the 2017 county final.
Farmingdale is poised to once again pose a serious threat to Massapequa in the Chiefs’ quest to repeat as county champions, bolstered by the return of Matt Olbeter and Joe Simons on attack, as well as midfielder Brian Michael and defenseman Tim Hegarty.
Syosset, which finished 14-3 last season, has the makings of a viable Conference A contender as well. The Braves feature quality pieces on attack in J.P. Lannig and Jack Pucci and midfielder Liam Kalbacher.
Radomski says the Grade A talent represented within Conference A is nothing out of the ordinary.
“This is a black-and-blue division,” Radomski said. “There’s no rest for the weary playing all these teams back-to-back-to-back.”
Garden City enters 2018 as the defending Long Island Class B champion after taking down Eastport-South Manor. The Trojans have their sights set on building upon last season’s run to the state semifinals, where they fell to Yorktown in double-overtime. Defenseman Colin Hart, midfielders Kyle Steinbach and Tyler Wuchte, goalie Teddy Dolan and Liam Muldoon on attack will be key for Garden City.
Cold Spring Harbor, the reigning Class C state champion, became the first Long Island boys program ever to win three consecutive state titles after rallying to win the state final last year and complete an undefeated season. The Seahawks return an imposing lineup consisting of Kevin Winkoff on attack, defensemen Hunter Guarneri and Aidan Hinphy and goalkeeper Chris Porzelt.