Prior to the 2019 season, longtime North Shore boys’ lacrosse coach Aaron Kozlowski reminisced to last spring where Mineola spoiled the conference opener for a confident Vikings squad. He had mentioned they remembered the encounter, and looked to get off to a better start this season.
North Shore ended up dropping its league opener once again to the hosting Mustangs by a 9-6 score where Mineola’s Aidan McMahon collected a hat trick and five different Mustangs found the back of the net. North Shore’s Dom Calderoni, Stephen Grabher, Forrest Demetri and Gianni Abouelhassan all netted at least one goal for the Vikings. “We weren’t ready for league intensity,” Kozlowksi said. “Their goalie played really well.” Mineola’s Dylan Renner made 18 saves.
Since the initial league loss, North Shore has tallied a 2-4 league record. The Vikings recollected after the defeat and recorded back-to-back wins against Lynbrook and Friends Academy.
“We beat Lynbrook for the second year in a row,” Kozlowksi said. “They are traditionally a pretty storied program and it is good to get a win against a school with that kind of history.”
North Shore was given a major boost by one of its captains and best players in Grabher who recorded three goals and four assists. “Grabher has been playing better and better as the season has gone on,” Kozlowski said. “He has won a ton of faceoffs, and has had multiple goal and multiple assist games for us.”
Mike Albanese and Demetri collected two goals apiece, while Calderoni added a goal as well. Abouelhassan had an assist.
The Friends Academy matchup was one that both sides recalled from last year. Friends Academy knocked the higher-seeded Vikings out of the playoffs last postseason, and Kozlowski knew his team had remembered. “It was a rivalry game for sure,” Kozlowski said. “It was close for a quarter until we pulled away and ended up winning 13-5. Then we started playing the top-seeded teams in our conference.”
North Shore dropped its next three league games against Floral Park, Wantagh and Locust Valley respectively.
The 9-8 loss to Floral Park harkened back to last year’s matchup against the same squad. “We lost to Floral Park with about a minute left by a single goal,” Kozlowski said. “We would’ve liked to win that as they were the seed right ahead of us.”
Locust Valley was a frustrating game for the Vikings, as the Falcons’ Colton Teitelbaum made 16 saves and was fantastic in net. “Locust Valley put up 6 goals in the first few minutes and we got kind of shell shocked,” Kozlowski said. “We played scrappy and intense after that, but we ran into a brick wall in their goalie.”
Wantagh was the team to hand North Shore their first home loss.
Kozlowski and the boys now look ahead to the final leg of the season, where they will meet perennial top-dog Cold Spring Harbor, followed by Bethpage and Seaford.
“Harbor is a fun challenge to see if we can match their pace and intensity and play at our highest level,” Kozlowski said. “We need to win our last two games in this fight for sixth, fifth or even fourth place.”
The ultimate goal, though, is securing a home playoff game. “That’s what we’re shooting for and I believe we can succeed in attaining that,” Kozlowski said.