West Islip’s mission for 2014 is as clear as could be.

After all, the Lions are coming off a 12-6 season in which their run of nine straight Suffolk County (N.Y.) championships and 11 straight Section 11 title-game appearances came to an end.

WI’s title run ended with a 12-4 loss to Smithtown East 12-4 in the Suffolk Class A quarterfinals.

So Job 1 for the Lions this spring is to return to title glory.

Senior AJ Ilchert makes that very clear.

A relentless and aggressive defender, Ilchert will be playing his college lacrosse at St. Joseph’s University. He says strong defense and improved team chemistry will be the keys for WI in 2014.

Now, here are AJ’s perspectives on the upcoming season.playerperspective

What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
I personally have been training hard at Revolution Athletics everyday doing strength and speed training with a few other kids on the team. Our team has been playing in-house box lacrosse in our gym, and we have been playing in our outdoor winter league at bay shore high school.

How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
Our schedule, like always, is very tough. Of course I am excited for the normal rivalries like Smithtown West and Ward Melville, but I am really very excited for Smithtown East. We didn’t play well against them last year, and we need to show them who we really are as a team.

We have a couple good scrimmages. we are scrimmaging Massapequa, St. Anthony’s, Huntington, Garden City and Wantagh. I am really looking forward to St Anthony’s and Garden City.

What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
I think there are a lot of people who will surprise people this year, our attack on paper is very good all D-I commits but haven’t got any significant time or publicity that they deserve.

But what I think people will truly be surprised with is our defense. Other than myself there is not one (college) commit. Myself, Nick Capone, Christian Gebhardt, Sean Seaburg and Ian Prate are a close and very talented group.

All of us are very athletic and determined. We have been playing together our entire life and it has gotten to the point where we almost don’t even need to talk on defense. We know where each other are, we know each others’ weaknesses, and we know when we need help. I really think people will be surprised with us.

What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
The strength of our team this year is the weakness of the team last year. Last year, we lacked team chemistry. We were not a tight unit. That could not be more different this year we all love each other like brothers we are all so close and have the same common goal. #roadtostates.

How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
The race in our league is tight it always is. Every game we have to look at our opponent as a serious contender because you never know who has some hidden talent and can surprise you and hand you a loss that can affect you down the road.

* Preseason player perspective archive

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