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Long Island Girls’ Lacrosse: Island Trees Tops Floral Park, 20-9, in Season Opener

The Island Trees Lady Dawgs (1-0) showed no signs of rust in their season-opening 20-9 victory over the visiting Floral Park Lady Knights (0-1) on March 16 in a non-league girls' lacrosse contest.

Island Trees earned a 20-9 victory over Floral Park in its 2012 season opener.
Eric Holden

Island Trees seniors Emily Lucas and Allie Merrill scored seven goals apiece, while Natalie Sulmonte chipped in with five goals and two assists. Kristin Duthie added a goal and freshman defender Brianna Wilson also tallied one assist for the Lady Dawgs.

Lucas, a Monmouth-bound midfielder/attacker, picked up exactly where she left off in 2011, scoring early and often to propel Island Trees to a 14-6 lead by the midway mark.

She finished No. 15 in Nassau County last season with 57 goals, but her early results in 2012 show that she could easily finish in the top ten this year.

"It was a great team effort," Lucas said of the win over Floral Park. "Luckily, Allie and I were able to capitalize on some early scoring opportunities to get the season started the right way."

Merrill, a multi-sport standout, was also in midseason form by the opening minutes of the first half, using her speed to jet past defenders up-and-down the field.

The young speedster is primarily known for her talents on the soccer field, as she earned All-State Second Team honors this year, but she's a force to reckon with in lacrosse as well. When Merrill is fresh and healthy, she's easily one of the fastest girls in Nassau County, which often results in strong starts to new sports seasons.

Besides scoring four goals to lead Island Trees past MacArthur in last year's lacrosse season opener, Merrill tallied four goals in the first two games of Island Trees' soccer season in 2011.

But this season-opener topped them all, as she set the pace of the offense early with a furious attack to slip by Floral Park defenders to score at will.

Island Trees' starting goalkeeper Carley Butzgy also dazzled in net, notching five saves and allowing just nine goals for her first win of the season.

At least on paper, Floral Park was the better team, as the Lady Knights ranked No. 128 in New York State just last year, and have put together winning seasons each year since 2007. Island Trees ranked No. 168 in the state in 2011, and played without its top defender - Ohio State-bound senior Bridget Vilbig.

Vilbig went down with a season-ending ACL tear before the start of the season, but the underclassmen on the roster stepped up their roles on defense in the season-opener to ease the pain of losing the star defender.

Floral Park also beat Island Trees, 18-17, in an early-season contest in 2011. Lucas and the Lady Dawgs proved that a lot can change in just one season.

What's Next For The Lady Dawgs?

The Lady Dawgs travel to MacArthur on March 19 for the rubber match of a crosstown rivalry that has been brewing since 2008.

The MacArthur Lady Generals topped Island Trees, 10-8, on April 14, 2008, but Island Trees settled the score with a 15-14 victory over their Levittown rivals in the 2011 season-opener. Serious Levittown lacrosse bragging rights will be on the line in Monday's non-league tilt.

Eric Holden has been covering Long Island high school sports since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.

Sources

Personal Source, Island Trees attacker Emily Lucas

http://section8.nasboces.org/sportspakonline/mainindex.asp, Section 8 schedule, Island Trees' schedule

www.maxpreps.com, Max Preps, NYS rankings

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Updated Saturday, Mar 17, 2012