Lynbrook’s four-year run of reaching at least the semifinal stage of the boys’ lacrosse playoffs was halted last spring when it was nipped by Bethpage, 9-7, in the Nassau Class C quarterfinals.
The Owls are seeded No. 7 in the county’s deepest-growing class and started to trend upward after a mediocre offseason and early scrimmages. However, they’ll have to overcome a key injury to make noise come May with senior goaltender Kevin Loonie expected to miss 3-to-6 weeks with a thumb injury suffered March 22 in a non-league win at Carey.
“Losing Kevin is a big blow, but it’s a next-man up mentality,” coach Bill Leighley said. “We struggled to find ourselves in the winter league and the early part of the season, but we seem to be moving in the right direction.”
Senior Dan Ficarra, who has first crack to take over for Loonie, was impressive in a 7-3 non-league win over Oceanside on March 25 with nine saves. “He’s got his opportunity to step up and he certainly did against Oceanside,” said Leighley, who has junior Nick Cimato as another option between the pipes.
Some of Lynbrook’s veterans are on defense, starting with Honorable Mention All-County senior John Dibenedetto and All-Conference senior Joe DeMonte. Dibenedetto will see time in both areas of the zone scheme, line up at wing on every faceoff and provide leadership as a captain. “He’s a tough kid and a great all-around player,” Leighley said.
DeMonte, in his fourth varsity campaign, is athletic and heady, the coach said, and making more of an impact in transition this year as evidenced by his goal against Oceanside.
A couple of minor injuries on the unit are allowing the Owls to build depth. Juniors Dan Barbuto (back) and Jared Moreida (elbow) could return soon. Barbuto is a physical presence, the coach noted. In the meantime, senior Jack Dorney stood out in recent games and speedy sophomore Nate Stewart has shown a quality handle.
In the middle, senior Jake Dibenedetto (no relation to John) will handle the lion’s share of draws after winning 123 of 231 attempts a year ago. He’ll also be counted on to stick on the field and chip in offensively. Senior Sean Barrett is one of the team’s top returning scorers (14 goals in 2018) and can run all day, senior Mason Pontrelli has a combination of speed and athleticism, junior David Becker features a heavy shot, junior Jack Rogers is a talented first-year varsity performer, and freshman Christian Meszaros has a nonstop motor.
Up front, senior Jesse Candel was Honorable Mention All-County last spring after scoring 26 goals. He already has 10 as the Owls split their first four games. “He’s a great, hard-nosed player and leader,” Leighley said. Senior Jack Fagen is hoping to avoid the injury bug as he operates on attack after a move from midfield. Senior Anthony Andrews is a crease presence and junior Cameron Fabel is also contributing.
“We don’t mind the underdog role,” Leighley said.