SHIRLEY, NY -- Was there ever any point in the season when this seemed out of reach?
When the perennial champions looked ahead to the second weekend in June and, for the first time in years, wondered whether they'd have plans? "It did go through my mind," Garden City goalie Megan McDonald said. "We hit a rough patch in our season . . . five losses."
Mark the calendar, warm up the buses and update the iPod, girls. Because even though the Garden City girls lacrosse team went into the Long Island Championship game with five losses, they came out with five losses, too. The Trojans, behind five goals and two assists from Alex Bruno, defeated Eastport-South Manor, 11-7, Sunday in the Class B final at Dowling, giving them a shot at their seventh straight state title.
It was a continued return to form for a team that had won 55 straight games before dropping two to Maryland teams and three to Long Island opponents after losing four All-Americans from last season. The Trojans move on to the state tournament, June 8 and 9 in Cortland.
"We needed to pull it together and we did it at the right time," Bruno said. The losses "showed us what we needed to work on. It was almost good for us."
The Trojans (15-5) dominated possession and took a 7-1 lead at the half, scoring five straight in the last 14 minutes.
Eastport (15-4) showed signs of fight in the second half, rattling off three straight goals to make it 7-4 on Allyson Tolken's flick off a feed from Allison Gionta with 17:07 to go, but that's as close as the Sharks would get.
"This being [ESM's] first LIC, we knew they were going to come out pumped," said Garden City's Catherine McTiernan, who had three goals and an assist. "We had to come out strong and confident."
Confidence, they have. McDonald said that despite the team's midseason difficulties, she believed the state title is attainable. "We had a goal," she said. "It's not over yet."
Defender Elizabeth Stutzmann said that "Garden City lacrosse is unstoppable and we're winning our seventh in a row."
Bruno, a veteran senior attack, added her voice to the 'We Want Seven' chorus: "Everyone thought this was a down year . . . and that they could get us while we were down."
"But we're still Garden City."