Friday’s matchup of Garden City and Wantagh is a game I’ve been intrigued by for a while. Garden City, currently with a 6-1 record, is the favorite in Nassau Class B and one of the best teams -- and defenses -- on the Island. Wantagh, at 9-1, is certainly no slouch, has a potent offense, and could be Garden City’s closest competition in the Class in Nassau.
Wantagh’s offense put up 20 goals on South Side earlier this season so that gives you indication of the kind of firepower it has. Wantagh has scored at least 12 goals in all but two games this season. They had eight in a win against Mt. Sinai and were held to six in their only loss of the season to Farmingdale.
Senior attack Brandon Mangan, who is headed to Yale next fall, already has 31 goals and 28 assists this season. Junior Ryan Walsh has 23 and 13 and junior middie Joe Stottler has 18 and 8. And those numbers have been complied against some good teams, such as Lynbrook, Farmingdale, Massapequa and South Side.
But Wantagh’s offense might face its toughest challenge yet against Garden City. The Trojans have allowed an average of 3.85 goals per game and led by two of the best longpoles around, Brian Fischer and Stephen Jahelka, both Harvard-bound juniors.
So something has to give, correct? Will it be Wantagh’s offense or Garden City’s defense? Of course, some other storyline could emerge, too. Garden City’s offense has been slowed at times this season but is certainly capable of putting up big numbers, too. We’ll see what happens. As the wise men say, that’s why they play the games.
The game is 4:30 p.m. at Garden City.
In another Conference B-I game Friday, Division (8-0, 2-0) hosts Long Beach (4-4, 2-0) at 7 p.m., which means the top four teams in B-I will be in action against one of other on Friday.
Division finished 11-6 last season and five of its defeats were by a total of eight goals, including an 11-10 loss to Hewlett in the playoffs. The Blue Dragons wanted to eliminate those closes this year and so far they’re off to a good start -- having no losses.
Tom Nuckel leads Division in scoring with 19 goals, 11 assists. Corey Triola has 18-9 and Fred Mase 16-13.
And also on Friday, Lynbrook (7-2, 4-0) hosts South Side (4-5, 3-2) at 4:15 p.m. in Conference B-II. The two teams were picked preseason No. 1 and No. 2 in the conference by the county coaches with Lynbrook No. 1.
Though South Side has a losing record at this point, it doesn’t indicate its talent level. South Side played one of the toughest early season schedules around: Its five losses were to Cold Spring Harbor (6-5 loss), Manhasset (12-8), Wantagh (20-13), Garden City (3-2), Syosset (11-8). Those teams have a combined record of 35-5. The Cyclones have since won four in a row.
Newsday photo of Brian Fischer/by Frank Koester