Katelyn Greeley of Manhasset looks to pass during a girls...

Katelyn Greeley of Manhasset looks to pass during a girls lacrosse game against Darien (Conn.) in Manhasset on Saturday. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Talk about challenging yourselves from the opening whistle.

Manhasset, the defending state Class C girls lacrosse champions, didn’t want to schedule a nice, easy warmup game to begin its quest toward a repeat. Quite the opposite. Manhasset hosted Darien, the No. 1 team in the country in the Nike/USA Lacrosse rankings, in its season-opener.

Darien, from Connecticut, controlled the contest throughout and defeated Manhasset, 18-5, in both team's season-opener on Saturday afternoon. But still, Manhasset doesn’t regret the decision for an early test.

“I believe it’s really important to put yourself up against the best if you want to get better,” said Alexandra Maliagros, a senior defender. “There’s no way you can get better without pushing yourself forward so I think this was a really great opportunity for us to get better and learn what we can do to become a great team like we were last year. And we are going to be that this year, too.”

Darien scored the game’s first eight goals and led 11-3 at halftime. Chloe Humphrey, the top-ranked player in the nation by Inside Lacrosse and a North Carolina commit, had six goals and three assists for Darien.

“This definitely gave us a lot of things to work on and improve on,” said Caitlin Barrett, a senior midfielder. “I think this was a good first matchup because we can learn so much about ourselves. And what really matters is where we are at the end of a season, so taking this matchup and using it as a learning experience will help us.”

Katelyn Greeley had two goals and Cassidy Harley had two assists for Manhasset.

“To play against the No. 1 ranked team in the country shows us where we stand,” coach Meghan Clarke said, “and the amount of work we need to put in to be where we want to be in the end come June.”

Manhasset figures to be in the middle of the mix for another Class C county, Long Island and state crown. The team hopes a challenging non-league schedule along with the tough conference games will help later in the year.

“It’s something we can build and grow from,” Maliagros said. “To face adversity and build from it makes you such a stronger team than if you started out being on top.”

“This is a new season,” Clarke said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with the win. But we came out with things to work on and there were moments of brilliance. But we have a lot to work on.”

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