Days 2 & 3 of the LILJ HS Winter League Championship Series have concluded, and teams in the league have now completed their third (and for some teams their fourth) pool-play games. The conditions over the last two days have been a bit chilly at times, but the energy and enthusiasm exuding from the players and coaches have combatted any negativity surrounding the league. It’s been a treat seeing some competitive High School non-contact lacrosse, and watching players represent their communities on the grid-iron. As we approach Day 4 of action, let’s dive into the Long Island Lacrosse Journal’s Top 5 surprises of league thus far:
Hills T-Birds Remain Undefeated! Half Hollow Hills has been the story of the league. Rolling out the youngest roster by far, the T-Birds have manufactured four big wins over Sachem East, Huntington, Oceanside, and Hauppauge. Half their games were decided by just two goals, squeaking out an 8-7 victory over both Huntington and Oceanside. Hills has been successful with their gritty, selfless, and fast-paced style. Excited to see what Hills can do as we move towards the latter half of pool-play games.
The Gatos Montes of Shoreham Sit at 2-2. With so much talent returning and some marquee seniors on their roster, we definitely expected to see Shoreham sitting higher in the league standings at this point. After a convincing victory over Farmingdale in game 1, the Gatos Montes squeaked out a win against Chaminade’s junior team, and dropped two games to Chaminade’s Red squad yesterday and the Patriots of Three Village today. Even though Shoreham has poured on the second most goals in the league, they are sitting in the bottom five when looking at goals against average.Will be interesting to see how Shoreham responds to back-to-back losses. Fun fact: the last time Shoreham lost two games in a row was on April 18th, 2020 to Garden City, and then again on April 26th, 2020 to Mt. Sinai. The Cats responded by winning 9 of their next 10 games, securing a NYS Class A State Championship along the way.
Team Huntington Looking Like They Can Win This Thing! Despite a tough one-goal loss to the undefeated Hills T-Birds, Team Huntington is playing at a high-level, with lock down defense in their first four games. The Devils are seeing tremendous production at the X between Robbie Smith and Anthony Annunziata. Smith aka the Swiss Army Knife, also has 12G and 2A thus far. Huntington has also seen some serious success in net from their goalies, beginning with starter Alex Fascilla, and young guns Sammy Mac Arner and Matt Mead. Every one of their goalies is over 60% saving the ball thus far! On the offensive, rising star Liam Lennon has ten points on the season as well.
Mt.Sinai Averaging 7 Goals Against Per Game. When promoting the Mustangs, we usually are talking offense. With the No. 1 recruit in the country on the roster, surrounded by waves of talent, it’s hard not to. However, we’ll do our best to make this clipping about the defense. Sinai has displayed some lock-down defense in their first three games. After holding the best team in the league, Chaminade Red, to nine goals in game 1, the Mustangs locked down Ward Melville to five goals and Chaminade’s Gold squad to just eight. Some keys to Sinai’s success defensively starts with the face-off X. Over the last two games, Austin Oppenheim and Jake Spallina have been a dangerous 1-2 combination. With the help of Dylan Sageder on the wing, Sinai has been dominate at winning the possession battles in the middle of the field. Matt Graffeo has been the true backbone of the defense, keeping his front line organized and in check throughout. With a strong defensive showing thus far, the No. 1 recruit in the country at attack, and some incredible pieces all over the field; Sinai has a shot at bringing home an inaugural LILJ HSWL Championship in our ACC Division.
It Took Hauppauge This Long to Secure Their First W of the Championship Series. The Hauppauge Eagles have some dudes, and what’s so surprising is it took three losses before they secured their first victory. The Eagles top offensive core includes Riley Henselder, Andrew Sellitto, and Kieran Thomas. Those are three college bound seniors who are all capable of having break-out games. When playing as a unit, this team can put up serious numbers. We were very impressed with Grant Faber, who had himself a day in Hauppauge’s first W today against the Lizards. With a big time Senior trio, some really nice complimentary players surrounding them, and Senior leader in Damien Levin in cage; be sure to key in on the Eagles to make a late push in this Championship Series.