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Mepham appears on the rise

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Three wins in their first four games has first-year Mepham coach Kristen Mogavero excited about what the Lady Pirates can accomplish this season as they continue to grow as a lacrosse team.

Coming off a winning conference record and a postseason berth a season ago, Mogavero said her team is still working to get exactly where it wants to be. But through their first week of games, there’s been no shortage in energy and effort.

“We’re a scrappy team,” said Mogavero. “I’m very happy with that.”

The Lady Pirates defeated Floral Park and Baldwin to open their non-conference schedule last month, winning both games handily. A challenging conference opener on March 25 against Friends Academy resulted in their first loss, 16-7. But they turned around three days later to earn a victory over Hicksville on the road in a high-scoring affair, 19-15.

While Mogavero said she was satisfied with her team’s performance, she wasn’t thrilled to see it nearly squander an eight-goal first-half lead. “The girls were executing everything we asked them to in the first half,” she said. “We’ve had conversations about being a 50-minute team and not letting up when we have those leads. I think it was a good learning moment for us.”

In the victory, Alicia Heller scored five goals and Jamie Maddaluno added four. Alexa Ferrara chipped in four assists along with her two goals.

Heller, Maddaluno and Ferrera are expected to be the driving forces offensively this season. Ferrara has already notched a six-goal game in their season opening win over Floral Park. Midfielder Julia Cardace has chipped in three goals and three assists so far.

On the other end of the field, Mogavero spoke highly of her defensive core, led by junior Jillian Mayer. ”She is a vocal leader,” the coach said. “And she leads in terms of her play. She’s the one who brings together the defense.”

The Lady Pirates have a new face at keeper this season, with Sarah Weggeland transferring from Sacred Heart to Mepham this school year. “We’re excited and fortunate to have her,” her coach said. “She’s a critical part of our team.”

Looking ahead, Mogavero said she’s excited for her players to continue expanding their lacrosse IQ and become more comfortable in their system. She’s also eager to see her younger players develop throughout the year, notably freshman starting attacker Kaitlyn Smith.

And while it’s about two weeks away, Mogavero said her girls have already circled April 17 on their calendars a matchup at crosstown Calhoun – but not just for competitive reasons. Mogavero and Calhoun coach Melissa Rohr, the former Mepham coach, teamed up and organized the game to also serve as a fundraiser to benefit the Headstrong Foundation, an organization devoted to blood cancer research and awareness.

“It’s going to be a very emotional game on both sides,” Mogavero said. “Especially now that we’re in the same conference.”