Manhasset's Chun a fierce defender for No.1 seed

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Manhasset's Chun a fierce defender for No.1 seed
Maddie Chun (29 in orange, pointing) is a senior defender for the top-seeded Manhasset girls lacrosse team. Photo credit: Kristin Perfetto

It was a split-second decision that set the stage for Madeleine Chun's entire lacrosse career.

She was in middle school and at her first tryout/practice with a new club team. Her dad, Micky, had told Madeleine to tell the coach she was a midfielder, “because he always wanted me to be a middie. He thought I was fast.”

So when she got there, she looked around and saw the midfielders in one group, and the coach was telling them they would all do conditioning runs around the whole field.

“And I look over and see the defenders all just playing catch, throwing long passes to each other. I was pretty lazy, so when coach asked me what I was, I immediately said ‘I play defense!'”

A disinterest in running that day turned into a very wise choice for Chun's lacrosse future.

Now a senior who patrols and controls the defensive side of the field for Manhasset, the younger sister of former Manhasset boys standout Connor Chun helped her school win a state title in 2022 and has them primed for possibly another one.

Manhasset will compete in the Class C semifinals Wednesday against North Shore, and if it wins, it will go for a third straight Nassau crown on May 29th at 6 p.m. at Adelphi.

“Not only does Maddy lead by her play, but she is constantly communicating to her teammates and getting everyone on same page,” says first-year Manhasset head coach Jackie Williams.”She goes 100 percent at all times. She brings a level of intensity to our team that raises everyone's level of play.”

Chun's longtime teammate, Shea Panzik, credited her friend's attitude.

“She's very aggressive, and works very hard, pushes herself every game and practice,” Panzik said. “She's a good communicator and coach on the field.”

As an all-county defender in 2023, Chun locked down the opponent's best scorers and once they were covered by her, they stayed covered. Her instincts and knack for always being in the right place at the right time have endeared her to teammates.
And just like off the field, where her words pour out rapid-fire like water from a hydrant, Chun is the vocal leader on the field.
“She's so communicative on the field and so supportive of all of us,” said fellow senior Nicole Giannakopoulos. “She's always the first one to cheer up her teammates after a bad play.”
But the player who will be taking her talents to New Hampshire this fall to play at Dartmouth said the confidence she's playing with now took a long time to achieve.
“I didn't expect myself to be so much of a leader,” Chun said. “Last year I relied on Alex Schneider and Alex Maliagros, to make plays and lead the defense.
I had to emulate them and learn how to be a leader.”
Chun has clearly come to love lacrosse, but it wasn't that way for a while. She said that when Connor first took up the sport, their parents wanted Madeline to play, too.
“It was, ‘you're getting a stick in your hand and gonna play whether you like it or not,'” she recalled with a chuckle.
“And it was horrible. Everyone was learning the game and doing what they were best at, and I was best at nothing. I was so, so bad,” she said.
Still, she slowly got better, and while seeing Connor succeed, she also began to love the sport.
“I really began to like it more when I started playing club, because I love meeting new people,” Chun said. “I felt like there was a whole bunch of nice, supportive people I can play with and we can all go through it together.”
“And then you get better by experience; you go against these amazing players like (former North Shore and current Boston College player) Kylee Colbert and you are totally terrified but you play them and learn by trial and error what works,” Chun said.
As Manhasset has rolled to a 10-4 record entering the Class C semifinals, Chun has helped manage a season of great upheaval for the team. Williams, a former assistant, took over from Meghan Clarke (the reasons for Clarke's departure are unclear; texts sent to Clarke were unanswered) just a few weeks before the season started, and Manhasset lost stalwart Mia LoPinto to a torn ACL early in the year.
“There's been a lot of changes and we've had to have a lot of young players step up and they absolutely have, like Harper Lambert and Lily Acerra,” Chun said. “Lot of players have gotten bigger roles and it's been so encouraging.”
Chun knows her career is coming to a close, but wants her and her mates to go out with another state crown.
If that happens, well, she might even do some extra running.

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