West Islip has dominated Section 11 Class A the last five years.
But there could be a new sheriff in town.
In addition to traditional power Ward Melville, Sachem North, which handed West Islip its only loss last season, looks strong, along with East Islip and Connetquot.
So too does Smithtown West.
After all, the Bulls are coming off a 13-5 season in which they lost to Ward Melville twice, to West Islip, Garden City and East Islip.
West has an impressive assemblage of major Division I talent: Duke-bound senior attackman Kyle Keenan, Cornell-bound senior defenseman Jordan Stevens, Army-bound senior Brendan Madarasz (defenseman) and Virginia-bound attackman James Pannell, who is one of the nation’s top-ranked juniors.
Keenan is also a rarity in that he plays three sports, including football and basketball as well as lax.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Keenan was the leading assist-getter in Long Island last season, with 53.
Keenan’s father, Sean, the varsity coach at Smithtown West, played high school lacrosse at Ward Melville.
Here’s Kyle’s perspective on the upcoming season:
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
I play football and basketball as well, so I have been keeping myself in good shape. I have been lifting around two to three times a week to maintain my strength while playing basketball and football. My team has just started playing box lacrosse in the gym at Smithtown West. The captains had a draft and we divided the team into four teams. We have been playing six on six and the goals are 4×6 goals opposed to normal goals, which are 6×6. The tight area accentuates your stick skills and has been really fun so far. Prior to the box lacrosse league we have been having intramurals on Sundays too keep our sticks in our hands. The team has also been to two fall tournaments: the Shoreham Wading River Invitational and the Hofstra Tournament.
How does your schedule look, including scrimmages, and what games are you looking forward to?
I am really looking forward to playing Yorktown. Both the varsity and JV are playing at Yorktown and the trip should be really fun and the game should be a good test for us. Garden City is another game I am really looking forward to. They have a outstanding defense and this will be a really tough challenge for our attack. Suffolk County Division 1 is going to be a tough division. There is more parity this year than ever. Ward Melville, West Islip, East Islip, Sachem North, Walt Whitman and Connetquot will all be very good games.
What players on your team do you think will surprise people this year?
We have a lot of good players who have worked hard in the off-season and will bring a strong contribution to our team. Ryan Joseph, or Ry-Joe, as we call him is a senior this year. He is a returning midfielder and had an amazing summer on Team Smithtown and really lead the team from the midfield. Alex Dodge is a junior and is going to be another major contributor this year, he has really tuned up his skills and has developed a nice shot on the run. Craig Madarasz is our faceoff man and is another person who had a terrific summer and is constantly improving his skills. Evan Schlit is a senior defenseman who has amazing stick skills, great size and strength.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
We have junior James Pannell (Virginia) and myself returning for our fourth year together on attack. Junior Matt Schultz (Cornell) is also returning for his third year with us. James and I will also play some midfield and will get some younger but very skilled attackmen in the game. Ryan Joseph has improved so much over the past two years and will play midfield, along with Alex Dodge and Brian Massi, who is a terrific finisher and played exceptional for a sophomore at the tournaments this fall.
Our offense has been given a lot of the credit, however, we have returning two All-County defensemen: Jordan Stevens (Cornell) and Brendan Madarasz (Army), who do an amazing job. Both have started since their freshman year.
How do you view the race in Section 11 and who do you think the contending teams will be?
This year is going to be tough in Division 1 of Section 11 (Suffolk County) in which we will play in. The contending teams will most likely be West Islip, which lost a lot but yet is still very good on all sides of the field; Ward Melville, which is always good; East Islip, who will have a high-powered offense; Connetquot, which has a high powered defense; and Sachem North, which was a contender last year and has improved. Division 1 will be extremely competitive.
Smithtown West 2011 schedule
3-26 at Garden City
4-6 EAST ISLIP
4-9 at Sachem East
4-12 WARD MELVILLE
4-14 BAY SHORE
4-18 at Half Hollow Hills West
4-23 at Yorktown
4-27 at Sachem North
4-29 WALT WHITMAN
5-4 at Lindenhurst
5-6 at West Islip
5-10 WEST BABYLON
5-12 at Connetquot
5-14 SMITHTOWN EAST
5-16 at Northport
* For schedules for high school teams from throughout the region, be sure to check out the “Schedules galore” thread, and scroll down to the comments portion for the most recently finalized schedules.
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