It was moments after Manhasset High School’s boys lacrosse team had clinched its second consecutive state championship, on June 11, and Jack Lamarca had a message to deliver.
The senior defender raced over to his goalie, junior Matthew Im, and grabbed him in a huge bearhug.
Then he screamed a few words in Im’s ears.
“You guys have to go do it again.”
That’s the burden and expectation on Manhasset lacrosse now: You’re supposed to win a state title. That’s what we do here.
Lamarca related that story on a cloudy Thursday afternoon in front of the school, as he and his teammates were honored with their second consecutive parade down Plandome Road and the surrounding streets.
As dozens of locals waved and cheered (a slightly smaller crowd than last year, which was not surprising, since last year’s parade honored two state championship lacrosse teams, the boys and the girls from Manhasset), the victorious Indians players listened to bagpipes playing, waved from flat-bed trucks and were honored at a ceremony presided over by Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman.
“As Yogi Berra once said, ‘this is deja vu all over again,” Blakeman said. “What an incredible accomplishment for these young men, and their parents and families who supported them all the way up to this point.”
As the Manhasset players proudly sported their blue state-championship shirts and goofed off on stage behind a parade of speakers that included Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jen DeSena (a Manhasset resident, she proudly pointed out) and County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip, coach Keith Cromwell soaked all in and even put senior co-captain Jack Peterson on the spot by calling him up to the microphone.
Peterson, headed to Harvard in a few months, opened with “I had no idea I was going to be speaking today” but was able to express his gratitude for his teammates.
And those teammates happily embraced the pressure and expectations that come with winning. This spring was Manhasset’s first back-to-back Class C crown since 2009-10.
“It’s going to be hard, and we’re going to have to work for it, because we’re losing a lot of guys,” Im said. “But we also have a lot of guys coming back and we have great coaches.”
” We’re trying to get to that level, where the kids expect (a state championship) every year,” Cromwell said. “”That’s become our culture the last few years; the seniors from one year get the job done and come through, and the year after them doesn’t want to let anyone down, and continue to show what they’re all about.”
This year’s Manhasset team was dominant, losing only one of its 22 games, to rival Chaminade by one goal. It was led by a bounty of future Division I players, like Cal Girard (headed to Duke after being honored as Nassau County player of the year last week), James Lapina (Boston U.), Matt Cargiulo (UMass) and Liam Connor (Colgate).
But it also won games due to its conditioning. Player after player during the postseason said they were winning games in the fourth quarter due to conditioning, and all credited assistant coach Joe Fallon with getting them in the best shape of any team on Long Island.
“He prepares us for what we have to face, with all the running and weight room work,” Girard said. “We run a lot, a whole lot. “It sucks in the moment but we know at the end of the day we’ll be prepared, and we were in the playoff games we won.”
As Manhasset’s latest championship team received county citations from Blakeman, and the group of 16 seniors looked at each other with goofy grins and knew they were together as a team for the final time, the returning players knew that a three-peat was the only goal now.
The potential heroes of next year’s team, players like Mikey Mondiello, Daniel Kolin and Jack Mulholland, know their time has come.
“You can see it in the locker rooms, and on the bus rides home, how our seniors pass the knowledge on,” Cromwell said “We’ve been very fortunate that our guys, the seniors, they are in the young guys’ ears, and now it’s their turn to see where they can take this thing.”
It might just be taken back to another parade, 12 months from now, down Plandome Road.