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Beach Channel lacrosse finds success after Sandy

Beach Channel goalie Adedoyin Famojuro attempts to block a shot. Photo by William Thomas
TimesLedger Newspapers

The Beach Channel girls’ lacrosse program continues to thrive this season under less than ideal conditions.

The Dolphins began the year losing the only coach they had ever known when Sam Innes left the school and moved to California. Things didn’t get easier for first-year Coach Eric Wozniak when Hurricane Sandy hit the Beach Channel area hard in late October. The superstorm left the school’s field still unplayable and left players initially displaced from their homes.

Instead of deterring them, it only added motivation for this season.

“We strived to play harder,” senior midfielder Tashawna Reid said. “We just have to do our best.”

Beach Channel (8-1) has persevered through it all and remains one of the top teams in the PSAL Championship Division. It was its lone unbeaten team until a 10-5 loss to Midwood April 26 without starting goalkeeper Tianna Parkes, who was on a college visit. Beach Channel also owns a win over league power Tottenville.

“Their attitude is amazing,” said Wozniak, who played lacrosse at St. John the Baptist (L.I.). “They really strive to win.”

Innes built a culture of winning at the school after starting the program from the ground up. He began the program in 2005 and led it to two PSAL Class A city titles. Innes, however, thought it was time to step away from teaching and coaching and pursue a degree in his first love: architecture and design.

Innes still communicates frequently with Wozniak about the team. Innes helped him out when Wozniak took over by providing the new coach with the basic plays the girls had learned.

Wozniak, who is grateful for the help, usually speaks with this predecessor about every game. Innes feels the club is in good hands.

“He’s taken on a love of the girls and his heart is in the right place, and I am thrilled about that,” he said of Wozniak.

His players were sad to see him go, saying it hurt, but they think their chemistry with Wozniak is growing and admire the way he has handled the team.

“People have to have courage to come into a team that had a coach for the whole time,” Reid said.

There have been other obstacles, too. The team has been forced to practice in the gym, on the outside concrete basketball courts and on the school’s softball field because of the damage to the football field.

Beach Channel plays its home games at nearby Aviator Sports Complex and its JV and varsity are sharing uniforms because the varsity’s new ones have not arrived.

“We have to make it work,” Reid said.

So far they have just fine.

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