Katie O’Brien’s high school days are down to single digits, her senior checklist almost complete.
She has two more days of classes at St. Dominic’s, but there’s one major goal remaining – a second straight CHSAA Nassau/Suffolk Class A title.
“It’s definitely sad because my mom is the coach, its going to be hard to leave the girls on the team because we were all very close,” O’Brien said. “It’s scary, but exciting at the same time.”
The Bayhawks already earned the top seed in next week’s playoffs, but on Wednesday afternoon proved they are the heavy favorite, beating second-seeded Mary Louis, 13-7, at Bayville Centre Island Beach Park.
St. Dom’s, which raced out to a 7-1 lead, made a major declaration heading into the postseason.
“It’s really important to make the statement that you’re not getting any closer, we are the best team in the ‘A,’” Bayhawks coach Michele O’Brien said. “I don’t expect anything but us winning the title again.”
The Bayhawks, who are hoping to reach the final for a fourth straight year, have proved that in a pair of regular-season victories over the Hilltoppers. First came a 14-5 win on April 18 followed by Wednesday’s late season win.
“It was more exciting than last time,” Katie O’Brien said. “It was a little closer, which wasn’t that great.”
St. Dom’s (10-4, 5-0), which wraps up the regular season Friday against St. Mary’s, has made tremendous strides since Katie O’Brien walked into the Oyster Bay school as a freshman.
“We had girls who had never played lacrosse, never even played sports playing,” she said. “Now we have girls who are experienced, who play on travel teams. It’s just a whole different program, which is really great.”
She was among those players. A soccer and basketball player her entire life, Katie O’Brien never picked up a lacrosse stick until she was in high school.
“I was lacrosse challenged,” she said. “I couldn’t run and cradle at the same time. It was just horrible.”
Now Katie O’Brien, who had three goals and three assists Wednesday, is one of the Bayhawks best players. She will join Mary Louis star Anna McGovern at Molloy College next year.
“She does see the field very well and she did find [Julia] LoRusso and [Jordyn] Coyne and they did some great things,” Michele O’Brien said. “They are very unselfish. You can see all the kids get along, they like each other. When that goes on, the winning is a lot easier.”
Four years ago, Michele O’Brien would walk the hallways at St. Dom’s actively trying to recruit players. No experience necessary. Good thing, because there wasn’t a lot of it around.
“We had one or two kids with sticks and it was north-south the whole time 90 miles per hour,” Michele O’Brien said.
Her biggest recruits came from her basketball program, including her daughter, the team’s starting point guard as well as Nikki Campbell, who originally planned on softball in the spring, but was talked onto the lacrosse team by Michele O’Brien. Campbell had a goal and an assist Wednesday.
“It’s good that we’ve elevated the program to this level,” Michele O’Brien said.
St. Dom’s had a balanced attack throughout the season and Wednesday’s win over Mary Louis was no different. Jordyn Coyne and Kiera Coyne had two goals apiece and LoRusso, who was just cleared to play a few hours before the game following a sprained ankle, also scored twice. Seven different players found the back of the net for the Bayhawks.
Anna McGovern had a game-high four goals, Carolyn Hieb had two goals and Grace McGovern added one for Mary Louis (5-8, 3-3), which played well despite missing a pair of starters, according to coach Keri La Magna.
“I definitely feel a lot more confident,” La Magna said. “Today we were missing a few of our starters and the team picked it up from when we played them last time. We still have some cleaning up to do offensively and making more accurate passes down field, but today was definitely a better game.”
But will it be good enough to beat senior-laden St. Dom’s in the playoffs?
“Not to sound cocky or pompous, Mary Louis is very good,” Michele O’Brien said. “But I think we’re much better.”
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