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Psst! His name is JJ Foley

Smithtown West's JJ Foley checks Garden City's Kieran

Smithtown West's JJ Foley checks Garden City's Kieran Byrnes during the first period on Saturday, March 22, 2014. (Credit: James Escher)

JJ Foley is a defender for Smithtown West’s boys lacrosse team. He’s headed to Lehigh after he graduates in a couple of months. He’s really good at what he does.

It’s possible you didn’t know that, though. And that’s a shame.

Foley is often overlooked because of his own back-line teammates. Kyle Mathie is committed to North Carolina. Logan Greco, who is bound for Virginia, was a Newsday All-Long Island pick last year. Nick Albanese, a long pole midfielder/defender, will play at Sacred Heart.

Foley has heard it before. When someone chats with him about his lack of recognition because of his star teammates, the conversation typically starts like this: “If you were on any other team …”

That’s where the discussion should also stop, Foley believes. He’s part of the Bulls. And he’s using that to his advantage.

“It makes me work that much harder in practice,” Foley said. “Knowing two top defenseman in the country are on your team, you want to prove you’re just as good as them.”

Foley, who likes to play pretty physical, going hard on slides, has made an immediate impact for Smithtown West (3-0) this season. In the season opener against Cold Spring Harbor, the 6-3, 215-pound defensive stalwart dominated, scooping several groundballs, including a few late in the third and fourth quarters to seal an eventual 8-5 win.

“He’s the real deal for us,” coach Bob Moltisanti said. “I think it’s true that, because of Mathie and Greco, he could get a bit overshadowed. But we know what we have in him. He’s a really great defender.”

There’s another reason the name Foley could get lost on some. He missed about half the season after suffering a slight LCL tear in his right knee in a game against Northport last April 20.

“I lost half my junior year because of the tear,” Foley said. “Definitely missing time makes people not really know you. I missed more than half the season and missed the playoffs and big games as a result.”

Foley, who was switched to defense as a freshman, said his knee is 100 percent now. For Smithtown West, which is regarded by many as Long Island’s top team, a healthy Foley means another dynamic defender.

“The best thing about playing with so many talented guys is that we have each other’s backs,” Foley said. “We know one another won’t get beat easily, so it’s easy to play team defense with all of them. It’s a great defense and an honor to start for such a team. I’ve always had that mindset. Ever since I switched to defense, I always wanted to start. And I am. Playing with two of the best in the country is the bonus.”