Sweet 600: Sarsen Attains Milestone

Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen gathers with her team and former players after securing her 600th career win against Nyack Sept. 16. Credits: Rick Kuperberg

SHRUB OAK, N.Y.— When it comes to the numbers, it’s easy to see why Lakeland field hockey coach Sharon Sarsen is one of the greatest coaches in the history of high school sports.

Sarsen, who has coached the Hornets to 11 state titles, including eight consecutive Class B crowns heading into the season, earned her 600th career victory when the Hornets defeated visiting Nyack 9-0 on Sept. 16.

“Six-hundred got me a chance to see so many faces that were so instrumental to the history of Lakeland field hockey,” said Sarsen, who is the winningest field-hockey coach in state history. “We had such a great group today. I love seeing all the Lakeland alumni. I love them so much.”

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Besides the gaudy numbers, what is also impressive is the type of people that have come through Sarsen’s program.

“I am so proud of all the alumni and where they are in life,” Sarsen said. “Lakeland field hockey is a proud sorority of so many young women doing so many amazing things. The crossroads and connections are endless.”

One of those players that has come through the program is senior captain/center back Julia Papanicolaou.

“Sars is definitely the best coach I have ever played for and I remind myself every day that if it wasn’t for her, our program would be so different,” Papanicolaou said. “People commonly ask why Lakeland field hockey is so successful and they question if Sars is just that good, and my answer is always, ‘Yes, she’s really that good.’”  

Emily Kness (3G), Jessica Ascencao (2G, 2A), Caroline Cahill (2G, 2A), Kelsey McCrudden (1G, 2A) and Julianna Cappello (1G) led the Hornets to victory with Cassie Halpin and Kellie Smith splitting time in goal.

Lakeland also won at Pearl River 4-0 on Sept. 12, led by McCrudden (2G), Cahill (1G), Sarah Bussell (1G) and Papanicolaou (2A), in a game that featured poor-field conditions due to rain.

“We carried out the simple plays and executed them to the best of our abilities,” Papanicolaou said. “We were dribbling less, using our teammates and putting the ball to space so someone could run on. Sars stressed the importance of getting the ball to goal, which also helped us a lot.”

The Hornets (5-0) especially excelled defensively.

“We recognized the field conditions and adjusted our techniques,” Papanicolaou said. “We were really focusing on keeping the play in front by dropping back more than we normally would on a turf field and our back line really communicated to our forwards and mids where to step and what to do. We stayed composed and didn’t get defeated mentally.”

Yorktown hosted its First Annual Field Hockey Tournament for Fighting Hunger, beating Putnam Valley 2-1 in the first round in double overtime on Sept. 14 with Izzy Cicinelli recording the game-winning goal, assisted by Kelsey McDonnell (2A).

“At the end of the first OT the entire team was so pumped up. We knew this game was ours,” Cicinelli said. “Katie Vogel passed up to Kelsey McDonnell, who passed it up to me for the winning shot. It was a feeling like no other, hearing our sideline go crazy and our teammates coming over at the end for the celebration. I couldn’t have done it without my team. We left it all out there and came out on top.”

Caitlin O’Donnell (1G) and Hannah Farley (7 saves) also contributed.

“Our team was able to come out on top because we didn’t let Putnam Valley get in our heads. PV scored first and we still kept our heads high,” Cicinelli said. “We continued to maintain focus which helped the defense get the ball up to the offensive side of the field which made our transitions very clean which ultimately helped us come out with the win in the end. We never gave up and the entire time we knew this game was ours.”

Yorktown (1-3) was upended by Valhalla 4-0 Sept. 16 in the title game, with Farley and Adeline Araneo recording five and four saves, respectively.

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