Freeport embracing tough challenge


Freeport’s girls’ lacrosse team is showing plenty of fight this spring taking on stepped up competition in Conference III.

The Red Devils (2-7) opened the season with back-to-back convincing non-league wins against Jericho and Valley Stream District before tackling a challenging slate of games in their new conference. While Freeport has yet to strike the win column in league play thus far, seventh-year coach Anabel Lopez is proud of how the team is embracing the challenge of a higher league after moving up from Conference IV.

“The girls are playing hard and being in a tougher conference has challenged us but I think it's mainly due to the fact that you know we lack that experience now that Conference III has,” Lopez said. “Conference III three has shown us the importance of fundamentals as we have always been able to get by with our hard work and our determination, however in conference we need a little bit more than that, but I will say they're working towards it.”

Lopez said the team has battled hard in its seven league games thus far despite facing teams with players who had a far bigger head start on learning the sport of lacrosse. One of those hard-fought defeats was a 12-11 overtime heartbreaker to Floral Park on March 27 in which Cassie Smith tallied six goals and her younger sister Ava Smith netted five. Floral Park ended up sending the game into overtime by registering the tying goal wwith just 11 seconds remaining in regulation.

“They played impeccably that day,” said Lopez, who two years ago led Freeport to the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade with a Conference V title. “It was one of the best games they have played and I think even Floral Park was surprised.”

Another near Conference III victory for Freeport came in a 13-11 loss at Hicksville on April 8 in which the score was tied 10-10 going into the fourth quarter. Cassie Smith had another monster game with seven goals. 

Cassie, a senior midfielder, is seventh in Nassau County in goals scored with 38 to go along with 50 draw controls despite missing two games. Ava, a sophomore attacker, is closely behind her older sister with 24 goals.

The defense has been led by Julia Mendoza-Pineyro after shifting from playing midfield last year. Yet she had a hat trick against Plainview. “She is an animal with ground balls,” said Lopez of Mendoza-Pineyro.

Also providing consistent contributions are Sejla Omeragic and Ashley Zavala, who have four goals apiece, Ciana Kunen, who has three, and goaltender Bryana Quiros.

Freeport next has a rematch with Floral Park on April 25 before traveling to Division on Monday. 

The home stretch of the season will mark the final games for Lopez as coach as she plans to step away after this season, but hopes to eventually return to the program she has helped revive. 

“I'm leaving very happy and very content and excited to return,” said Lopez, who played girls lacrosse at Freeport from 2004 to 2008. “I love the program and the Freeport alumni that played for the program and I want to see it thrive and continue to thrive.”