Lakeland Wins Battle of the Best

Kelsey McCrudden battles for a loose ball. Credits: Vic McGee

SHRUB OAK, N.Y.— Host Lakeland battled Connecticut powerhouse Wilton on Sept. 24 in a matchup made in field-hockey heaven.

On one side you had Lakeland, winners of the last seven New York State Class B titles and 10 state titles overall in its legendary history.

On the other side, you had Wilton, last year’s Class L state champs and Class M state champs from 2011-2013 in Connecticut.

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The Hornets entered the game as the No. 1 team in the Max Field Hockey Northeast Region poll with Wilton being ranked No. 3.

Lakeland, ranked No. 10 nationally, came up winners in this dream matchup, 3-1, against Wilton.

“We’ve been excited for this matchup for a long time, and we knew they were a very talented opponent,” Lakeland senior captain Mia Lennon said. “I was very proud of everyone because we were able to finish under a lot of pressure.”

Lennon (2A), Cali Cortese (1G), Kelsey McCrudden (1G), Julianna Cappello (1G), Cameron Lischinsky (1A) and Cassie Halpin (4 saves) helped propel the Hornets to their statement victory.

“[Coach Sharon Sarsen] has really been emphasizing passing the ball and making everyone around us better,” Lennon said. “We played as a team, we had people in the right places, and we finished on our opportunities, which was exactly what we had to do and I think that’s why we were so successful.”

Lakeland defeated visiting sister school Walter Panas 7-0 on Sept. 22, led by Lennon (2G), Cortese (2G), Caroline Cahill (1G, 1A), McCrudden (2A), Jessica Ascencao (1G), Meghan Fahey (1G) and Lischinsky (1A).

Halpin and Kellie Smith both played in goal to share the shutout against Panas.

Lakeland (7-0) started the week with an 8-0 win against visiting Pearl River on Sept. 19.

“Sars has really been stressing to pass the ball stronger and more consistently to our team this year, but most importantly to move the ball quicker,” McCrudden said. “I think that when our team passes the ball and we try to make everyone around us better we are most successful and I felt like we did this well against Pearl River.”

McCrudden (3G) and Lischinsky (2G, 1A) led the Hornets to the win against the Pirates.

“Since our team moved the ball well against Pearl River it really helps Cameron and me become good scoring options for our team,” McCrudden said. “Many players cutting off each other help create space for our shots.”

Cortese (2A), Cahill (2A), Fahey (1G), Alexa Ryan (1G) and Cappello (1G) all produced for the Hornets against the Pirates.

For Ryan, who developed her skills like her teammates as a youth in the Shrub Oak Athletic Club, it was her first varsity goal.

“I’ve played field hockey with Alexa since SOAC when we were younger,” McCrudden said. “She’s always been quiet, humble and it’s been exciting to watch her grow as a player. It’s awesome to see her hard work pay off. “

Halpin and Smith (2 saves) combined on the shutout vs. Pearl River.

Visiting Yorktown lost to John Jay-East Fishkill 6-0 on Sept. 21 with Olivia Sanchez tallying 13 saves and Gabby Raffa recording three saves for the Huskers.

Yorktown (1-5) fell at Clarkstown North 3-1 as Natalie Gammer scored for the Huskers off an assist from Caitlin Verber with Olivia Sanchez making 19 saves on Sept. 19.

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