SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Lakeland has built one of the best field-hockey traditions in the country, as its 13 state championships suggests.

With that level of success comes the opportunity to play the sport at the next level, something the Hornet players have taking full advantage of.

The following players on this year’s Hornet squad have signed to play at the next level: Keirra Ettere (captain, forward, SUNY Cortland), Emma Fon (captain, forward/midfield, SUNY Geneseo), Nancy Pagliaroli (forward, SUNY Oswego), Emily McGovern (defender, SUNY New Paltz), and Katelyn Cerrato (forward, Farleigh Dickinson University). Cerrato will also play lacrosse at FDU.

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The fact that these five are taking their game to the next level means a lot to the program.

“We are excited that the five of them have enjoyed their Lakeland experience enough to make it a part of their next four years,” Sarsen said.

As a group, the commitment these five have displayed has enabled them to have the opportunity to play the game in college.

“These seniors have learned what committing to a team/program really means,” Sarsen said. “They understand the level of commitment needed and how it is a part of your everyday, regardless if you are ‘in season’ or not. They have continued to work on being a better athlete, not just a better field-hockey player.”

In addition to Ettere, Fon, Pagliaroli, McGovern, and Cerrato, three other seniors are weighing their college options.

All of them, from those who have decided to those still deciding, played an important role in the Hornets’ 13-1 campaign. That mark included winning their 24th straight league championship while winning the Putnam-Northern Westchester Small School regional title.

“These five, along with their classmates who are still deciding on college choices—Daniella Hart, Kristen O’Shea (captain), and Emma Ryan—have been an amazing group that has left their mark at Lakeland,” Sarsen said. “Not only did they go out as winners on the scoreboard, but they have instilled the values and morals of hard work, competitiveness, accountability, compromise, fair play, and kindness, on their underclassmen.”

While the chance to win a 14th state title was not meant to be because of COVID-19, the fact that these players were able to at least play a season was important in their development for college, even if the players already knew their next-level destination.

“These girls researched, visited, and communicated to college coaches before and during the pandemic,” Sarsen said. “They probably had already secured their position/spot at their future college and program. However, they have put themselves in a better position due to the improvement, confidence, and success they have experienced.”

This is a group that Sarsen is genuinely going to miss.

“Like I said many times about this group, they were so kind and respectful to their teammates, opponents, coaches, and all adults,” Sarsen said. “They were all so different personality-wise, but they fit together like a glove. They came every day to work and win. They showed incredible leadership and initiative without being bossy. I will miss their personalities and desire to play the game. I will miss the easiness of this season.”