There isn’t one standout player on the Massapequa girls lacrosse team.
Yes, the Chiefs are back-to-back Nassau Class A champions. Yes, they were one point away from becoming Long Island Class A champion last season. They have to have one defining player, right?
No, because they all define the team and that’s the way the Chiefs like it.
“We play collectively as a team and aim to make each other look better instead of an individual,” coach Megan Protano said. “This year we have great leaders. Four of my captains have been with us since eighth grade, two on offense and two on defense, and they’re in charge of showing the younger girls how to be leaders.”
No one player is the face of Massapequa but there are talented players ranging from the sophomores to the seniors, especially captains Jackie Gatti (midfield) and Erin Tierney (defense).
Gatti’s overtime goal against Port Washington last season earned the Chiefs the county title, their third in program history. Tierney intercepted a pass late in regulation to help force the overtime.
“We were so happy being back-to-back county champions,” Gatti said. “Losing in the Long Island championship was heartbreaking.”
The one-point loss to Middle Country, the defending state runner up, in that game is etched into the team’s memory.
“Losing by one point hurt,” Tierney said. “But it means we have the talent. We just have to pull it all together. We’re giving people different roles and making plays to incorporate everyone.”
Besides Gatti on offense, captain Moira Callahan is returning and the Chiefs leading scorer, and sophomore Alexa Gentile, tallied 55 goals and eight assists last season. In the championship loss, she scored three goals in the final three minutes to shorten the deficit to one.
On defense, senior captain Micayla Brady is returning and sophomore Sophia Cardello, who had 145 saves last season, returns in the cage. She’s been with the team since eighth grade and credits the senior leadership for her success.
“Last few years, we’ve had great captains and leaders to look up to,” Cardello said. “They were once in my shoes and that’s motivating.”
The one-goal loss to Middle Country is fueling the team’s season, especially since losing by a goal was a recurring theme last season. The Chiefs only lost six games, each by a single goal.
Gatti describes the team as a first-half squad, but they are working on maintaining their energy into the second half. Playing teams like Port Washington and Syosset for the Class A title, they will need as much energy as possible.
Overall, the goal is a ticket upstate.
“We’re expected to go far,” Tierney said. “We have so much talent on the field. We have a close bond and it’s going to take us far. We’ll play it game by game but this is the team that will go upstate.”
Garden City has won two straight state championships. An end to their reign isn’t in sight, especially with Nassau’s leading player Jenn Medjid returning. Liana McDonnell and Caitlin Cook are also returning, completing the offense. However, Long Beach and Manhasset aren’t going to be denied with talent up and down each roster.
CLASSES C and D
Wantagh and Cold Spring Harbor will be battling for the top spot in Class C. Wantagh won the Nassau title last year with Kayla Conway and Danielle Carson on their side, and new coach Lauren Schwalje inherits a strong roster.
In Class D, Carle Place is the defending county champion with Oyster Bay also a contender.