The regular season for the Long Beach boys’ lacrosse team may have been like a roller coaster, but the ride for the Marines is not over yet.
Finding a consistent effort from his club was a struggle this season for Long Beach head coach Jim Kasper, who watched his team go 7-7, and experience both a four-game winning streak and losing streak. But, last Friday, the fight from the No. 6 Marines could not be questioned, as they posted a 9-4 victory over Nassau B-2 league champion Roslyn in their playoff opener.
“We played a good game,” Kasper said. “Our guys slowed everything down and controlled the ball on offense. We won almost every face-off. Our goalie, Shane Morris played well, and we didn’t make as many mistakes defensively as we have been during the season.”
The trio of Pat Piazza, Sam Brown and Jessie Rubel carried much of the offensive load for Long Beach in the contest. Piazza finished with four goals and an assist, Brown registered a goal and five assists and Rubel added two goals and three assists.
The Marines managed to jump out to a 5-0 lead in the first half. The Bulldogs pulled within two by the end of the third quarter, but Long Beach held off Roslyn with four goals in the fourth.
“I was happy with the way we finally put it together,” Kasper said. “We’ve been an up and down team all year. We’ve always had the talent, but there are just sometimes we don’t play hard enough. That night we played hard, and that’s why we ended up winning the game.”
Up next for the Marines will be a matchup with No. 3 Hewlett, a club they have already done battle with this season. On April 21, Long Beach lost 13-5 to the team (also nicknamed the Bulldogs), and had no answer for the dangerous offensive duo of Alex Vardaro and Ethan Grossman. The pair combined for 11 points in the last meeting between the teams.
“We need to talk more on defense, and do a better job of recognizing the sets that they’re in,” Kasper said. “And we need to play Grossman and Vardaro better. Our team didn’t really have a plan for them last time. We didn’t really realize how good they were. So we’re putting together a special defense this time to play them.”
The Marines have been somewhat unpredictable this season, but Kasper hopes to see the best version of his team once again show up this Thursday.
“If we play right, we have a good shot,” he said. “I like our seed. When we played Hewlett the first time, we made a lot of mistakes. If a lot of those mistakes are corrected, I think we have a chance. We need to play smart. We’re certainly the underdog, because they beat us 13-5 last time. But, we’ve been here before, where we got beat during the season than turned around and beat a team during the playoffs.”