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Defense first for East Meadow

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East Meadow lacrosse looks to lean on its defense to return to the playoffs after posting an 8-8 record that included a loss to Port Washington in the first-round of the Nassau Class A boys’ playoffs last season.

“We are a very aggressive defensive team and that’s going to be our strength, with our goalie and defense,” third-year head coach Steve D’Argenio said when discussing his team’s recipe for success this season. “That’s going to set the tone for us, and we have to keep every team under 10 points because we’re not a great scoring team.” 

The Jets opened the season winning three of their first four, keeping opponents to under six goals in wins against MacArthur, Jericho and Seaford. Senior goalie John Whitenack racked up 23 saves in an 8-1 rout of Jericho on March 23. 

“That’s a typical game for him,” D’Argenio said of Whitenack, who started in goal as a sophomore and earned All County Honorable Mention that year. “He’s just an outstanding goalie who is very athletic and makes big saves.”

Junior defenseman Anthony Turrisi spearheads the Jets’ defense with slick stick work and an ability to anticipate the next play. He is backed by Jarred Piccione and Peyton Stump, two solid sophomore defensemen who are both skilled at snatching the ball away from opponents. The defensive core also consists of seniors Joe Matchekoski and Kyle Barker, who have both returned to the team after sitting out all last season.

East Meadow’s offense relies primarily on Jim Howell, a senior midfielder and attackman, who has lead the team in scoring for two consecutive seasons as well as this year. Howell had four goals and three assists in the Jets’ 9-5 win over Seaford on March 25, and four goals and two assist in a 11-10 loss at Roslyn on March 29. He is among the top scorers in the county.

Senior midfielder Anthony LaRosa, who has returned from a hand injury that sidelined him most of last season, netted three goals against Seaford and two goals in a 6-5 win against MacArthur on March 21. “Anthony is a great athlete who has a great combination of speed and strength,” D’Argenio said. 

Senior James Surless, a defensive midfielder turned offensive middie, has come up big early in the season with his left-handed shots. He racked up two goals and two assists against MacArthur and had another pair of goals against Jericho. Fellow senior and attackman Abe Perez has good vision, feeds the ball well and manages to create opportunities to score. 

Up-and-coming offensemen include junior attackman David Sanzone and sophomore midfielder Stephen Calderaro. Other contributors include three midfielders, seniors Steven Falco and Alberto Abreu and junior Louis Canora.

East Meadow has its hands full in Conference I playing against powerhouses Massapequa, Farmingdale, Syosset and Port Washington. The Jets will travel to Massapequa, Port Washington and Syosset, as well as Freeport and Uniondale the remainder of the regular season. They will host Farmingdale, Clarke, Hempstead, Valley Stream, Hicksville and Oceanside, the last game on the schedule.