Encouraging signs for South Side


Amid some early adversity, South Side posted mostly positive results as it prepared for the grind of Nassau Class B boys’ lacrosse.

The Cyclones, who get defending state champion Garden City in the Conference B-1 opener, won four of six non-league games in March while suffering a pair of losses to high-ranked opponents by a combined three goals.

“We’ve got a little experience in spots and some new guys in spots,” South Side coach Steve DiPietro said. “We’ve had early growing pains, but the signs are encouraging. We have a group that has potential to be special.”

After coming within one goal from reaching the Class B title game last spring — the season ended with a 3-2 OT loss in the semis to Garden City —the Cyclones are looking to take the next step, DiPietro said. They’re seeded third behind the Trojans and Manhasset.

South Side worked around injuries to starting senior midfielders Connor Langdon (broken finger) and Matt Kucher (back) to battle perennial Class A power Syosset (8-7) and defending Class C state champ Cold Spring Harbor (8-6) down to the wire and pick up a win against Suffolk foe Northport (10-5) during a weeklong stretch. “We’re hoping to have Connor and Matt back by late April,” DiPietro said.

Breaking in an entirely new starting defense presented a challenge, but the Cyclones have other pieces to rely on while the unit jells. Junior long pole Nick LiCalzi is regarded as one of the top players on Long Island and has picked up where he left off in 2018 after earning All-American recognition. He has 50 groundballs and 16 forced turnovers through six games. “Nick’s the complete package,” DiPietro said.

Junior Ezavier Brewster is developing into a lockdown long pole defender in the midfield and will always draw one of the toughest assignments. In close, DiPietro has been rotating five sizable and athletic defenders: seniors Andrew Kearns and Sean Grace, and juniors TJ McNicholas, Jack McDonald and Eamon McGowan.

In goal, senior Dylan Harloff and junior Colin Hamilton are sharing the workload. It’s a situation that could change or remain the same throughout the campaign, DiPietro said.

Two starters returned to the attack, junior William Pickett and senior Brian Albertsen. Pickett earned All-Conference honors last spring and is off to a fast start with 18 goals and seven assists. “He’s a big, strong lefty who draws a lot of traffic,” DiPietro said. Albertsen (16 points entering April) has the ability to take advantage of the doubles Pickett attracts and makes good decisions from the X. Sophomore TJ Sheehan (12 goals) led the JV in scoring last season and helps the Cyclones crank up the pace, and junior Griffin O’Shea (six goals) is contributing up front and in the midfield.

Juniors Aidan Kelly and Rich Petrone are handling faceoffs for a second straight year, while junior Tim Mann, sophomore Thomas Kelly and freshman Brady West have comprised the top midfield group. West has impressed with four goals and six assists.