By Michael J. Lewis
Hunter Panzik is a highly-successful lacrosse player for Manhasset, a leader and scholar who’s headed to the Air Force Academy next year.
But still, any athlete gets stressed sometimes during a game. Fortunately for Hunter, whenever that happened this season, he only had to look a few feet away for a guy on the team who could calm him down.
A guy who lives in the same house and shared the same toys when they were toddlers.
Logan Panzik also stars for the Indians, and among other roles this season, he was the No.1 Hunter relaxer.
“He was definitely the guy who made me chill and could always offer a few words that made the situation better,” Hunter Panzik said in a recent video interview, as Logan listened in and smiled. “The guy can always put a smile on your face and make you laugh, no matter what is going on.
That’s what brothers and sisters do: They know you better than you know yourself. And the Panzik’s experience this year with Manhasset lacrosse was far, far from unique.
Anyone looking at the rosters of the two state championship teams from Manhasset lacrosse this spring would see last names duplicated. A lot.
There are four sets of siblings on the two Manhasset varsity teams, and nine kids altogether have a housemate on the boys or girls team (the Panziks have two boys and a girl on the teams).
The Panzik family produced Hunter, a senior, and Logan, a junior, on the boys team, with little sister Shea being a sophomore on the girls squad.
The Perfettos boast senior Matt on the boys team and sophomore Lauren on the female team.
Then there is the Chun clan, senior Connor and sophomore Maddie, and finally the Leders, with senior Patrick and junior Cate (Interestingly, in each case the male sibling is the older player; a few of the girls interviewed said they definitely were influenced to play by tagging along to their brothers’ games as kids.)
Four homes with two (or three) state champs, winning on the same day. Safe to say June 11, 2022 will be legendary in those families forever.
It is an astonishing amount of familial success in one sense, because it’s hard to make the varsity in a town as lacrosse-obsessed as Manhasset, so a family doing it with multiple kids seems impressive.
On the other hand, though, maybe it’s not that surprising, since all four families interviewed for this story said that lacrosse was basically expected of them from the time they left their cribs.
“Lacrosse has been so ingrained in the culture of this town, that no matter what gender or ethnicity you are, at some point you’re going to play,” Connor Chun said.
“It’s inevitable,” added Lauren Perfetto. “Whether you have siblings who play like I did, or not, it’s just what you do here. And for me, seeing my brothers play, made me want to play as soon as I could.”
All the brother/sister combos admitted that the sibling rivalry is there in lacrosse, as it is in other aspects of their lives together. But several of the players said because the two sports are so different, there wasn’t a lot of tactical conversation around the dinner table.
“It’s really a different sport, so it was more about me learning hard work and leadership from them,” Shea Panzik said. “The competitive part of me always wanted to keep up with them.”
“Kind of incredible how tough she is,” Logan said admiringly. “She gave it back to us as much as we did to her.”
As the high school playoffs progressed this spring, the level of awareness of the other Manhasset teams’ success varied wildly among the sibling groups.
Some were completely aware of what special thing may happen.
“Oh definitely we talked about it, me and Cate,” Patrick Leder said. “We saw especially as the teams were peaking at the right time, we knew it was a strong possibility and we were so excited about it.”
Others, well, not so much. Matt Perfetto, who was also a leader on Manhasset’s state title-winning boys basketball team in March, said he was so locked in and focused on what he and his mates were doing in lacrosse that he “had no idea” the girls state championship game would be on the same day, a revelation that draw a laugh and an eye roll from Lauren during a recent FaceTime interview.
“Well, I was thinking about it,” Lauren said with a smile. “I know our parents were definitely aware of it, and it was all very exciting to see both teams keep winning.”
The girls championship game was played at 2 p.m. in Cortland on June 11, while the boys game didn’t start until after 6 p.m. at Hofstra. So you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that several of the older brothers said they were definitely watching the girls team on livestream while preparing for the biggest game of their lives.
“I was watching a lot of the first half on my phone, and I was happy they were up big,” Matt Perfetto said. “It was definitely motivating for me that she was going to win one, definitely made me want to make sure we won as well.”
In the end, with their parents’ attention divided, there was little drama in either game. The girls crushed Honoeye Falls-Lima, 17-2, while the boys cruised to a 13-5 victory over Westhill.
The celebrations went on for days afterward; two of the female players interviewed said when they got back to school after the drive from Cortland fans were waiting and celebrating both titles.
“It’s pretty wild, and growing up with these people forever, it’s pretty amazing we can all do this at the same time, both winning titles,” Patrick Leder said. “You grow up here, and since first grade, second grade, these are the kids you see at all the practices, the PAL games, all of that. And that we got to experience this together … it was just really cool.”