Ever played lacrosse on asphalt? The obvious dangers aside, there are some benefits, the Long Island Lutheran girls insist.
A bit of adversity builds character, and an odd setting can bring a team closer . . . A couple skinned knees make everyone want to improve their stick skills, as to not have to lunge awkwardly for a ball.
So, skip ahead to last week, during a girls lacrosse practice on LuHi's new turf field. Nani Redford goes full-speed after groundballs; the defensive shifting is on-point; goalie Alexa Beloyianis is sharp; the passing is precise . . . except for those two errant ones that pelted Lauren Posillico.
"We're all trying to hurt Lauren, but I consider that a team-building activity," midfielder Macy McNair joked. "We have a lot of fun in practice."
More so since April 21, when the school unveiled its $1.1-million field. During its construction, the team practiced in an adjacent parking lot and played games on what Carolyn Dottino described as "a dirt field."
The Crusaders are still kicking up dust. A quarterfinalist in last year's NYSAIS tournament, LuHi is 8-1 this season. They've done so quietly, in part, because as an independent program, many of their opponents are from out of town.
Some of LuHi's rivals include Fieldston, Rye, Hackley and Marymount -- schools in the city and upstate. "My friends from other schools are like, 'Who?'" senior Deidre Hocevar said.
"But what matters is we know who they are."
Bit-by-bit, more people are getting familiar with Lutheran lacrosse, too, as they seek to change the perception of a basketball-centric athletic program. "Our lacrosse IQ has increased tenfold," coach Scott Maxwell said of his team, riding a seven-game win streak.
"They're quick, smart, unselfish . . . Watching this group is the most fun I've ever had coaching."
The quirky nicknames add to that . . .
Dottino is "Squirt," because of her size and ability to squirt through defenses with nifty moves. The Louisville-bound junior leads LuHi with 62 points. Hocevar's leadership earned her the "Mother Hen" moniker. McNair, a track star, turns red when running, so she's "The Flying Tomato." Giovanna Caponi's 5-9 frame is an advantage on defense, so she is "G-Raff." Sophomore twins Nicole and Danielle Sinacori are "The Sina-score-i Girls" because, well, they've combined to score 87 points.
"Once a team stops having fun," senior Kristi Pelizzoli said, "they're finished."
That being the case, this group has championship expectations.