It was a breakthrough season for Smithtown East High School (N.Y.) last year.

The Bulls, who enjoyed a nine-game win streak, finished 14-4 and and ended West Islip’s string of 11 straight appearances in the county final and nine consecutive county championships by defeating the Lions 12-4 in the Suffolk County (N.Y.) Class A quarterfinals.

While East’s star goaltender Brian Balkam has headed south, the Bulls have plenty of returning talent, including a player who will be joining Balkam at the University of North Carolina.

Midfielder Brian Willetts emerged as one of the nation’s leading players last spring and summer and earned a Top 10 ranking in’s first-ever Tristate Top 100 preseason player rankings, released late last month.

The 6-foot-3 junior midfielder and righty dodger has a blistering shot and is a a relentless rider.

A three-sport athlete, he’s been busy with basketball, but took time out to look ahead to this spring.

playerperspectiveNow, here are Brian’s perspectives on the upcoming season.

What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
My team has had workouts twice a week for players who aren’t in another sport.

I started working out in the gym this year, but mostly I’ve been playing football and basketball. I’ll spend the two weeks before the season with the stick glued to my hand.

How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
I’m mostly looking forward to Ward Melville, Northport and Smithtown West. There’s great talent in this league and we’re lucky that we get to compete against such great competition.

We have a multi-team scrimmage at Smithtown West that we participate in every year. We will also scrimmage Eastport South Manor.

What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
I think our sophomore face-off man Gerard Arceri will surprise everyone this year. Coming off of a great summer, Gerard will help us out tremendously with getting as many possessions as possible.

Another player that might surprise some people is Bobby Doyle. He is another faceoff man that is very scrappy for ground balls and plays the field very well. His toughness encourages our team to fight like he does.

What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
This year we will have a very strong offense with three returning starters at attack. We will look to make the most of our possessions with our experience on offense and our skilled faceoff men.

How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
This year’s league is very competitive.

Smithtown West has the majority of their starters back this season and has a very strong senior class. Ward Melville is just coming off their state title run and has an outstanding defense.

We will also have to be prepared for Sachem North with a dominant faceoff specialist along with a great goalie.

Northport also has a great faceoff specialist and a shifty attack unit.

Lastly, you can never underestimate West Islip. (WI) Coach (Scott) Craig has developed an amazing program and he is very much respected in our league.

With all that being said, we feel we can make a run deep into the playoffs and have a successful season with all the talent we have.

* Preseason player perspective archive

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Top 100 tristate preseason player rankings

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Posted In: Long Island lacrosse, Player's perspective, Section 11

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