Garden City will start the 2011 season No. 2 in the nation in the Inside Lacrosse/Under Armour national power rankings.

But before worrying about how the stack up nationally, or even making it back to the state championship game, the Trojans first have to find a way to get out of Nassau County.

That’s because Garden City’s No. 1 rival, two-time defending Class C state champ Manhasset, has moved up to Class B this season.

That’s among the topics we discussed with Steve Finnell, pictured at left, the fourth head coach in the storied history of Garden City’s program.

We start with a Q&A, followed by key players on offense and defense, as well as the schedule and listing of college committed players.

In short, everything you need to know about what could be one of the best teams in GC history.

First, here’s a Q&A with Coach Finnell on the 2011 Trojans.

What do you thinks the strengths of this year’s team are?
Our strength is in our experience.  We have three players (Tommy Gordon, Stephen Jahelka and Brian Fischer) that are four-year starters and many that have started in big games over the past few years.

Our defensive unit has been together for several years and work well together. Jahelka, Fischer and JP Burnside form the backbone of our defensive unit.  All three are very athletic and versatile with the ability to play close defense or long-stick midfield.  Dan Marino, our junior goalie, played in several games last year and is ready to step in as the full-time starter.  In addition, we return Matt Confort, an outstanding short-stick defender.

What areas would you like to see improvement?
Overall, I believe we need to do a better job in the area of off-ball play.  We have asked our offensive  players to focus on working hard to get open off the ball. In addition, we have been working on playing better off-ball defense.

Can you give an overview of the offense and some key players?
We have a veteran group on offense as well.  Tom Gordon and Devin Dwyer will lead the attack with several  players that will compete for playing time, including Jack Spencer, Liam Kennedy and Justin Guterding and Mike Lofrese.

The midfield will be led by Brian Coleman, Pat Berkery and Rob Savage as the season starts.  Several players will complete our midfield unit, including Connor McDonnell, Mark Ellis, Ryan Norton, Skye MacLeod and Mike Comiskey.

Can you give an overview of the defense and some key players?
We have three returning starters in Burnside, Fischer and Jahelka along with Confort as the short-stick d-middie.  Marino and John Bock give us a solid goaltending unit. Several players will compete for playing time, including Eugene Berkery, who played valuable minutes last season, Dan McCallan and Griffin Eilbeck.

What are your thoughts about Manhasset moving up to Class B this season?
Manhasset is a great program and Bill Cherry and his staff have them playing at a high level the last two years. They have talented players returning and it will make the Nassau B Class that much more competitive.

Do you think knowing you may play Manhasset again in the postseason will add or lessen the meaning of the Woodstick Classic?
The Woodstick will never be just another game, even if we played three times a year.  The two towns are very similar and the atmosphere at the Woodstick is unlike any other game during the year.  Also, there is no guarantee that “Round 2” of the Woodstick will happen.  There are several teams that will be very strong in the B’s, especially Wantagh.

What are games on your schedule do you think will be good tests for the team?
We have tried to put together three challenging scrimmages (St. Anthony’s, Hicksville and Delbarton) to get us ready for an even more challenging non-league schedule which includes Syosset and Smithtown West to start the season.  We continue with Ward Melville, San Ramon, CA and 2010 MIAA Champion St. Paul’s.  To finish up our non-league schedule, we will play Duxbury and Manhasset.

All About the Trojans

Record last year: 18-4

Class B state finalists: Lost to Jamesville-DeWitt 11-5 in title game

Key players

Offense: Tom Gordon (sr.,), attack/midfield, leading goal scorer last year, committed to Johns Hopkins; Devin Dwyer (jr.), attack, led team in assists and points last year; Jack Spencer(sr.), attack, committed to Holy Cross; Liam Kennedy (jr.), attack; Mike Lofrese (jr.), attack; Justin Guterding (soph.), attack; Brian Coleman (sr.), midfield/attack, committed to Penn; Pat Berkery (jr.), midfield, committed to Penn; Rob Savage (jr.) midfield; Connor McDonnell (jr.), midfield; Mark Ellis (jr.),  midfield; Skye MacLeod (jr.), midfield; Ryan Norton (jr.), midfield (jr); Mike Comiskey (jr.),

Defense: Stephen Jahelka (sr.), defense, committed to Harvard, returning All-American; Brian Fischer (sr.), defense, committed to Harvard, returning All-American; JP Burnside (sr.), defense, committed to Penn State; Dan Marino (jr.),  goalie,committed to Virginia; Matt Confort (jr.), short-stick defensive midfielder, committed to Lafayette; Dan McCallan (sr.), defense; Eugene Berkery (jr.),  defense; Griffin Eilbeck (sr.), defense,

2011 schedule

3/16 at St Anthony’s (scrimmage), 4:30 pm
3/17 Hicksville (scrimmage), 4:30 pm
3/19 Delbarton,NJ (scrimmage), 11 am
3/22 at Syosset, 4:30
3/26 SMITHTOWN WEST, 11 am
3/29 at Jericho, 4:30 pm
4/2 at Ward Melville, 2 p.m.
4/7 SAN RAMON, Calif., 4:15 pm
4/9 ST. PAUL’S, 10 a.m.
4/16 DUXBURY, 10 a.m.
4/21 WANTAGH, 11 am
4/27 at Carey, 4:30 pm
4/30 at Manhasset, 7 pm
5/3 MEPHAM, 4:30 pm
5/10 at South Side,4:30 pm
5/13 at Bellmore JFK, 4:30 pm
5/16 ROSLYN, 4:30 pm

College committed players

Patric Berkery, midfield, Penn

JP Burnside, defense, Penn State

Brian Coleman, attack/midfield, Penn

Devin Dwyer, attack, Harvard

Brian Fischer, defense, Harvard

Tom Gordon, attack/midfield, Hopkins

Steve Jahelka, defense, Harvard

Dan Marino, goaltender, Virginia

Jack Spencer, attack, Holy Cross


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Posted In: Long Island lacrosse, Section 8

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15 Responses to “Finnell breaks down Garden City”

  1. Trojan Horse says:

    Very interesting insights and perspectives by a great coach who, despite all the praise and high rankings for his team, is working hard to make it the best it can be and improve further.

  2. Pequa says:

    Team looks stacked and sounds like they’ve been working real hard in the off season…

  3. IslandLaxpert says:

    I think Garden City should be a 3-4 goal favorite vs. Set this year.

  4. Lax Observer says:

    Would like to see GC play some more ranked teams from the region like Darien and John Jay.

    • slacrosse says:

      For sure but that game vs St. Pauls will be a great one. Had mentioned earlier that St. Pauls recently lost to Haverford (#1 in IL) 10-9 in OT.

  5. kr says:

    GC has a great out of conference schedule: Ward Melville, Smithtown West, Duxbury and St Paul’s? not sure John Jay is as good as any of those teams.

    but i don’t think they’re 3-4 goal favorites over Manhasset, at Manhasset. We need a few weeks to see how some of the new guys on Manhasset are coming along. because the guys coming back (Tompkins, Moroney, Kucharczyk, Matthews, Thomas, Duvnjak and Morelli) can play every bit as well if not better than their counterparts on GC.

  6. slacrosse says:

    Who do you LI guys think will battle it out in Class C?

  7. IslandLaxpert says:

    slacrosse – You have to go with Cold Spring Harbor in C. Good nucleus back, strong defense, well coached.

  8. Jericho says:

    Too bad GC doesnt play Darien. Would be an amazing game.

  9. Charlie Sheen says:

    Woodstick will be game of the year nationally this year w/hout question

  10. LBLax says:

    Couple of big early tests for GC next week…

  11. Trojan Horse says:

    Nice win vs Syosset Coach Finnell!

  12. Laxfan says:

    like to see GC play Chaminade

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