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Garden City girls lacrosse team rallies after early season loss

Garden City players raise the championship plaque following

Garden City players raise the championship plaque following the NYSPHSAA 2016 State Girls Lacrosse Championships Class B final played at SUNY Cortland in Cortland, N.Y. on Saturday, June 11, 2016. Garden City claims the Class B title with a 16-5 win over Yorktown-I. Credit: Adrian Kraus

One loss is all it took for the Garden City girls lacrosse team to stop and reflect.

The Trojans lost to Cold Spring Harbor, 10-4, on April 7 in the fourth game of the season. It was a difficult game against a tough goalie, but the Trojans appeared flat.

Michaela Bruno, one of 17 seniors on the roster, said the team’s moral was low in the first half. Bruno, Kerry Defliese and Katie Muldoon, Garden City’s captains, brought the team together following the loss to fix things before they got worse.

“It was an eye-opening game for us,” Defliese said. “On the way home, on the bus and at the pasta party the next night, we all set goals for each other. We knew that that could never happen again.”

Alas, it didn’t. Garden City didn’t lose again all season, winning the final 18 games to claim the state Class B title at SUNY Cortland, 16-5, over Yorktown.

“It was kind of surreal,” Bruno said of her team’s dominance in the state final. “We had never been there before. We wanted to make it count.”

Garden City had last won a state title in 2012, and the team’s seniors had never even got to experience the state tournament.

They had previously lost in the Nassau county championship and county semifinals twice, giving them a thirst for the highest stage in girls lacrosse during their final season. Coach Diane Chapman helped keep the girls focused, especially after the early season loss.

“After the loss, she surprisingly wasn’t mad at us,” Muldoon said. “She was obviously disappointed, but she knew we had the capability to win a state championship this year. She knew that loss was a bump in the road. It was a regular season game.”

Chapman praised the determination and leadership of her three seniors, saying that their teammates respected their decision to set goals for one another. After all, that’s a captain’s primary responsibility.

“They accomplished the goal they set out,” Chapman said. “They didn’t want to be a team that didn’t win it all. They were determined, and they worked extremely hard.”

During the 18-game winning streak, Bruno said that her teammates weren’t even aware of the growing number of consecutive wins. Sure, they knew they were on a roll, but the Trojans weren’t keeping count.

“We took every game one at a time,” Bruno said. “We didn’t even notice it was a run while it was happening. But now looking back, it’s quite amazing what we accomplished.”

Garden City’s potent offense and intelligent defense would have lifted the Trojans to a strong season regardless, but to a state title? Credit that to talent and extra motivation.

Said Defliese: “Losing was a feeling we never wanted to have again.”

Trojans’ road to the championship

Nassau Class B playoffs

Carey, 18-3

Lynbrook, 18-4

Long Beach, 14-2

Nassau championship

Manhasset, 9-8

Long Island championship

Eastport-South Manor, 10-6

State semifinal

Victor, 15-11

State championship

Yorktown, 16-5

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