Lakeland Looks to Continue Dynastic Run

Kelsey McCrudden, right, is a leader at midfield for the Hornets.

SHRUB OAK, N.Y. - There have been plenty of dynasties throughout the history of sports and one that is right at the top of the list is Lakeland field hockey.

Last year the Section 1 champion Hornets finished 20-0-2 and defeated Section 8 champion Garden City 1-0 in the Class B state title game to earn their eighth straight state title (2009-2016), all in Class B, and 11th in the school’s illustrious history, as Lakeland has also won three state titles in Class A (2006, 2003, 1990).

Lakeland has been so dominant, it hasn’t suffered a loss since a 2-0 setback at Darien (Connecticut) on Oct. 20, 2012, with the last New York State team to defeat the Hornets being Putnam Valley in the Section 1 Class B title game on Nov. 1, 2008, with the Tigers winning 3-2.

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The above has all been under coach Sharon Sarsen, who enters her 36th season at Lakeland with a staggering 595-71-39 career record.

Sarsen said that a combination of factors have worked in the Hornets’ favor. 

“We have had great support in the community and in the families and players in our program,” Sarsen said. “The players have worked hard in and out of season, and I believe we have provided them opportunities to grow and be successful. Our athletes are driven and play to win.”

Leading the Hornets offensively are seniors Caroline Cahill (midfielder) and Kelsey McCrudden (midfielder) and junior Julianna Cappello (forward).

“I expect them to be involved in every offensive opportunity and have results in possession,” Sarsen said. “I expect leadership and will challenge all three to make players around them better.”

Defensively, the Hornets will also have plenty of talent around them in seniors Cassie Halpin (goalie), Jessica Ascencao (defender), Julia Papanicolaou (defender) and junior Emily Kness (midfielder).

From this group, Sarsen said, she expects consistent performance, leadership and direction.

Sarsen added that she doesn’t expect any newcomers to have an immediate impact this season but does anticipate her younger, returning players to provide depth and solid play.

They are juniors Julia Cummings (defender), Brianna Madison (defender), Sarah Bussell (midfielder), Kiera Wax (midfielder) and Kellie Smith (goalie) and senior Alexa Ryan (forward).

Leading the team as captains this season are Ascencao, Cahill, Halpin, Papanicolaou and McCrudden.

Each captain brings plenty of championship experience with her and their solid work ethic makes them perfect players to guide this year’s Hornet squad. The team is hoping to be in the state title game again on Nov. 12 at Maine-Endwell High School.

While Lakeland fans may already be thinking about another such trip to the state final, one reason why the Hornets make it as far as they do each season is because they keep their eyes on their daily goals, not what could be in November.

That is a formula that has obviously worked to perfection the last eight years and one Lakeland plans to implement again this fall.

“Our goals are to improve every day, play as a team and be committed to the team,” Sarsen said.

Lakeland will open defense of its state crown with two road games, 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, against Arlington, and 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 5, vs. crosstown foe Yorktown.

The Hornets are scheduled to have their home opener on their new turf field against longtime Class B sectional playoff rival Rye at 4:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.

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