First-year coach Jim Gillis couldn’t be happier with the never-say-die attitude Oceanside’s boys’ lacrosse team displayed in its first two games out of the gate as part of an impressive 4-0 start.
The Sailors rallied to beat Hewlett and Carey after allowing five goals in the opening quarter both games. A nine-goal second half highlighted Gillis’ first victory — a 13-11 decision at Hewlett — while the defense pitched a shutout over the final 40 minutes of win No. 2 — 6-5 in overtime at Carey.
“We’ve shown a huge amount of character,” said Gillis, who began coaching in the district 15 years ago and spent the past five years as a varsity assistant. “We were in similar situations last year where we dug a hole early, and in some cases it got worse before it got better,” he said. “I like that we’re keeping our composure and fighting back.”
Down 5-1 after the first quarter of the season at Hewlett and trailing by as many as five goals in the opening half, the offense started to click behind Ryan McCarthy, Luke Schwasnick and Will Remsen. McCarthy, a senior attack, had four goals and two assists. Schwasnick, a junior midfielder with a verbal commitment to attend Syracuse University, added four goals and one assist, while Remsen, a senior attack, racked up seven points with a hat trick and four assists.
McCarthy, considered the quarterback of the offense, found the net 14 times in the first four games including a five-goal outburst to lead a 12-8 win over Kellenberg in the home opener March 27. “He recognizes defenses well and either goes to cage or finds an open teammate,” Gillis said. Remsen is a strong finisher and dangerous in space, while sophomore Shane Clark is growing into a starting role and had a goal and an assist in a 12-6 win over Roslyn.
Defense is where the Sailors are most experienced. In goal, junior Kevin Lamantia is a first-year starter with quick reflexes. He’s sure to benefit from the group in front of him. Senior Nick Swanson anchors the unit and has a way of frustrating opponents, Gillis said. “Nick is a student of the game and never out of position,” he said. “He’ll always cover the opponents’ No. 1 option.”
Juniors Joe Denero and Connor Johnson provide the defensive muscle. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Denero is a physical presence in the back and excels in coverage and on groundballs. Johnson, a defensive leader on the football field as a safety, is a shutdown long pole middie. Senior James McGuinness is off to a tremendous start as well and was instrumental in the comeback win over Carey.
The Schwasnick-led midfield is deep and includes senior Shane Saucier, who is a key on draws, and juniors Ryan Sickler, Tarieck Harris, Casey Kelly and Jesse Platia.
Oceanside, which missed the playoffs in 2012, is ranked fifth in Conference I. “We’re out to accomplish something every day,” Gillis said. “One of our goals is to get back to the playoffs.”