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Uniondale no longer a doormat

Talk about a U-shaped turnaround.
 
For the first time in 25 years, Uniondale's boys lacrosse team, a perennial Conference I cellar-dwellar, made the postseason. The Knights, recently named the most improved team in Nassau, finished this year with eight wins, which tied their combined total of the five previous seasons.
 
Sparking Uniondale's resurgence was a junior class that longtime coach Phil Coppola said is the first corps of pure lacrosse players the school has had in a long time.
 
"This is the first group that is lacrosse players," the 1983 Uniondale grad said. "I don't care how good of athletes you have, if you don't have the stick skills, you aren't going to be good. This group eats, sleeps, and drinks lacrosse every day."
 
All County selection Deon Ellis leads the team with 35 goals and 19 assists, while All Conference picks Antoine Williams and Chris Martinez have scored 25 and 14 goals, respectively. All three are juniors.
 
The senior captain is Elijah Shabazz, a talented midfielder who has gotten looks from St. John's and Detroit.
 
Williams scored four goals with two assists in a 12-5 win at Herricks on the last day of the regular season, which clinched the Knights the 12th and final playoff seed in Class A. Uniondale won three of its last four regular-season games.
 
"They never stopped believing they can make it," Coppola said, adding the team "went absolutely nuts" when he texted them from the playoff seeding meeting.
 
The Knights lost to No. 5 Long Beach 15-2 in the first round on Friday, but there was much to be gained from the Knights' 2011 season. 
 
"For them to get the kind of recognition they did even though we lost, is great," Coppola said. "I didn't care if they sent us to Pluto to play the Plutotians. We made the playoffs."

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