CORTLAND, N.Y. — The West Islip girls lacrosse team didn’t have the easiest road to the state Class A semifinals. And though the result wasn’t ideal, the Lions have much to be proud of.
An 11-5 loss to Pittsford on Friday put an end to an otherwise fulfilling season for West Islip. Four losses in April were an obstacle, but the team was able to overcome those struggles.
“I’m extremely proud of how we’ve overcome adversity, pushed through when everyone said we couldn’t,” senior Vanessa Costantino said. “It would be a lot better if we came out winning a state championship, but sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
Pittsford built a 7-3 halftime lead after a 6-0 run that began with 19:02 remaining in the first half. That run ended when West Islip’s Emily Beier scored her second of three goals with 2:11 left.
The Panthers started the second on a 3-0 run, pushing the lead to 10-3. Costantino and Beier scored before the game ended, but West Islip (16-5) didn’t have enough firepower to finish the comeback.
“It was a tough first half, and we tried to rebound in the second half, but we just couldn’t get over the hump,” coach Joe Nicolosi said.
But Nicolosi’s group has much to celebrate. Three straight Long Island championships and a state crown in 2015 have made the Lions one of the most respected programs on Long Island.
“It’s been a surreal couple of years,” Costantino said. “Our team, the seniors, we’re veterans. We’ve been here for a long time. And we just played with each other for as long as I can remember. It’s been a really great ride. We’ve done so much. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
The month of April left West Islip with its fair share of doubters. The Lions were beaten four times in two weeks, including a 9-3 loss to Middle Country on April 29. But Nicolosi pulled his group together, and the Lions ran the table with eight wins until their semifinal loss.
Third-seeded West Islip defeated second-seeded Middle Country, 11-7, in the Suffolk semifinals and beat top-seeded Smithtown West, 9-8, in the final. West Islip then defeated Nassau Class A champion Massapequa, 6-4, in the Long Island championship game.
“They’re fighters. They never give up,” Nicolosi said. “I’m proud of this team. I’m proud of our program.”
Despite the loss, Costantino enjoyed the ride. She said: “The past couple years, I’ll never forget them.”