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Youthful Cardozo lacrosse works through growing pains

Cardozo’s Yikmunn Ong attacks the goal.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe
By Joseph Staszewski

Cardozo’s Milana Larin knew she was in for a different season with her girls’ lacrosse team.

The Judges lost 17 seniors from a team that competed with top teams in the PSAL Championship division, but things have been better than expected as the programs looks to rebuild.

“I had a feeling our team had no chance and we were going to have a developmental group,” the senior midfielder said. “I was completely wrong.”

Cardozo is 3-2 in the early season, but has struggled against the league’s elite clubs, including a 10-5 home loss to Midwood Friday. Fourth-year Coach Lou Decicco knows it’s going to be an uphill climb with a team filled with freshman and sophomores to get the program back to where it was the last two years.

“We are starting sophomores, we are starting freshmen, there are juniors who have never had any game experience at all,” Decicco said. “It’s almost like a JV team at time, but they keep pushing.”

Raising the players’ confidence and lacrosse IQ is the first step. The Judges trailed Midwood 6-1 at the half before they made a push to rally late. Cardozo players were attacking the net with ferocity and making the extra pass to set up scoring chances.

“They want to win and they will do whatever they have to do in practice to get better,” Decicco said. “I think you saw that in the second half. They came out in the second half and said they were not going to fold it up.”

Larin, who has 11 goals and classmate Maria Iskaros led the inexperienced group. Sophomore Valentina Fan and freshman Maggie Rodriguez have impressed their teammates with how quickly they have picked them up and her leadership on the field. Sophomores Sherry Li and Jane Song have also been big contributors early.

The hope is that the growing pains of this year pay off down the road, much like they did for Cardozo last season with the senior group that left.

“In a year or two,” Larin said. “These kids are going to be unstoppable.”

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