Conference V doesn’t get too much attention and after this year it won’t exist. Next year, Nassau is doing away with the ability-based groupings. But Tuesday’s Mepham-Valley Stream showdown certainly holds intrigue, with both teams currently undefeated in the league.
Mepham, which struggled through a 5-10 in Conference IV last year thanks to injuries to several key players, has raced out to a 7-0 Conference record this year. One of those injured players making an impacy is center Lauren Johnson, who has 69 points this year, tops in Nassau County according to Newsday.com’s statistics. Johnson’s also the key to Mepham’s scoring. In today’s 16-12 victory over Wheatley, she won 20 of the 25 faceoffs she took. Johnson is headed to Monmouth next year, where she’ll become Mepham’s first player to play the sport at the D-I level.
Johnson and All-Conference defender Kaitlyn Paolillo were impact players as sophomores on the Pirates’ 2008 unbeaten Conference V championship team. They got a taste of the county Class B playoffs that season and have made it a goal to get back there this season.
"They said it before tryouts even started how great a feeling it was," said Mepham coach Geraldine O’Brien. "They want it again, especially knowing the league’s are changing. They want to win the last Conference V title."
The senior leadership will come in handy because Mepham starts four freshmen, Ashley Appel, Nicole Stackpole. Michelle Olson and Jessica Gelbwaks, and all are making an impact. Gelbwaks and Stackpole each had hat tricks against Wheatley and Appell had a hat trick earlier in the season. Stackpole shores up the defense.
The Pirates are looking ahead to Tuesday’s battle of unbeatens, but remaining cautious.
"They’re looking forward to it but at the same time so much lies on that," O’Brien said. "It’s not over after Valley Stream. We still have Sewanhaka, Glen Cove. It’s not all there Tuesday."