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The nation’s oldest uninterrupted high school lacrosse rivalry will be renewed this Saturday at Warren King Field when the unbeaten and top-ranked Garden City Trojans host the Manhasset Indians in the Wood Stick Classic. It will be the 122nd meeting between the two schools since the series began in 1935. Game time is 4:30 p.m.

In the years since coaches Jay Stranahan of Manhassset and Jim Steen of Garden City introduced the sport to Nassau County, the two teams have compiled an unequaled record of success with 37 Nassau, 29 Long Island and eight state championships between them. Last year Manhasset moved from Class C to B for the first time since 1998 and that resulted in the squads meeting for the county title. Garden City won 6-5 after having defeated the Indians 10-6 during the regular season. Manhasset still leads the series 67-54 all-time.

Once again the teams come into the game with excellent records. GC is 12-0 over-all and leads Conference II with a 6-0 mark. The Indians have three losses, but all are to nationally-ranked teams: Calvert Hall, MD, Darien, CT. and Chaminade. Manhasset is unbeaten in Conference III. While this week’s game is a non-league affair, the possibility exists that the rivals could meet again in late May with a title on the line.

There is something quite unique about the Wood Stick. Certainly the history is a major factor, but the game seems to transcend lacrosse. The two communities share many characteristics, including their passion for sports. Prior to the varsity game, alumni stars will play the second annual game which will bring back nearly 100 former players to raise money for “Monster’s Kids,” a charity supporting Schneider’s Children’s Hospital. Faceoff is at noon. This year’s game will be sponsored by the Men’s Association and will honor the Wounded Warrior Project and the Folds of Honor. Members of a Navy Seal Team will be on hand and a special military flyover is planned.

While this is the most intense of rivalries, it is also marked by respect and relationships. The coaches, Garden City’s Steve Finnell and Manhasset’s Bill Cherry are good friends and many of the players know each other from many years of competition from the youth leagues through summers and into high school. Interestingly, the two best known players, the Indians’ star defenseman Bobby Duvnjak and the Trojans’ high-scoring Devin Dwyer, will be teammates next year at Harvard.

Manhasset is a strong defensive team with big, hard-hitting Duvnjak and goalie Evan Molloy leading the way. Attackman Quinn Maroney and midfielder Ryan Matthews head a well-balanced offense. Garden City features a potent scoring attack of Dwyer, Liam Kennedy and Justin Guterding plus outstanding midfielders Patric Berkery, Rob Savage, Ryan Norton and Mark Ellis.

Perhaps the most satisfying thing for Coach Finnell has been the development of the defense which had to replace stars Steve Jahelka, Brian Fischer and J.P. Burnside. Speaking of last year’s defense, veteran coach Tom Flatley said “You could watch lacrosse for a long time and never see a group like that again.” Yet, while the 2011 team yielded four goals per game, this year’s group is giving up just 5.4. A key is the return of outstanding goalie Dan Marino and defenseman Eugene Berkery, but new starters Scott D’Antonio, Ed Blatz, Tom Wright and Kyle Skramko have helped form an excellent unit.

Last week, the Trojans scored another big win over a highly-regarded opponent. Their visit to Shoreham-Wading River was a replay of last year’s Long Island Class B Championship, won by Garden City 9-4. The Wildcats are a Class C team this season but had soundly beaten Comsewogue, regarded as Suffolk’s top B squad. The Trojans dominated the game, stretching a 5-2 halftime lead into an impressive 13-4 victory. Devin Dwyer continued his scoring barrage with three goals and three assists while Kennedy, Berkery and Norton had two goals each.

S-WR Coach Tom Rotanz thanked the Trojans for coming to Suffolk to play in the “LAX OUT CANCER” game, but he added “the one mistake I made was that I thought Garden City had graduated all its stars.”

LAX NOTES: The Trojans face a busy schedule. Following the Woodstick, they go to Calhoun on Monday and travel to Wantagh on Wednesday for the biggest conference game of the year. The playoffs open at Garden City on Friday afternoon.....Garden City’s honorary coach for the Alumni Game, Doc Dougherty, won’t be able to be on the sidelines this time. The Hall of Famer is now coaching the Club team at Hofstra and his squad has qualified for the national championship “Elite Eight” in Annapolis this weekend. “It will be the first Garden City-Manhasset game I’ve missed in 40 years,” he said....In a touching pre-game ceremony players, coaches, and one of the officials whose families had been touched by cancer lined up. Among them was Coach Finnell, whose mother passed away during his college days and Coach Flatley, whose wife Helen succumbed last summer.....MSG Varsity will telecast the Wood Stick live....Garden City’s undefeated J.V. team will put its streak on the line against Manhasset’s J.V. at Garden City on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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