Lakeland’s field hockey squad was attempting to earn its 10th straight trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B Final Four when it faced Section 2 champion Burnt Hills-Balston Lake in the regional championship game on Nov. 3
The Section 1 champion Hornets had the advantage of playing that game at home, and took advantage of it with a 1-0 victory against the Spartans, keeping alive a seven-year winning streak on their turf.
Lakeland’s last home loss was Sept, 24, 2011 when it was defeated by Connecticut powerhouse Darien, 4-3.
“It’s a great feeling,” Lakeland senior captain Julianna Cappello said. “Knowing that we were able to play on our home field really pumped us all up because it would be devastating to lose on this field. So I’m happy about how the outcome came.”
Lakeland, which was ranked third in the Max Field Hockey Oct. 30 national rankings, will now attempt to win its 10th straight state title and 14th overall, when it travels upstate this weekend.
“It’s amazing, I can’t believe it,” Lakeland senior captain Julia Cummings said. “With this team, we just love each other, we have great chemistry and we are so excited to go, so excited.”
Cummings and her teammates are scheduled to play in a state semifinal against Section 4 champion Afton at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, and if they win that will compete in the state title game at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11. Both games will be played at Williamsville North High School outside Buffalo.
Burnt Hills-Balston Lake got an opportunity to go in front with 17:54 remaining in the opening half off a corner but the Lakeland defense was able to prevent the visitors from scoring.
“That was very big,” Cummings said. “Right before the corner happened we just told each other to stay composed, stay calm, we’ll do it. We just stayed calm, did what we know and it really worked.”
Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen was proud of her team’s effort.
“I thought we played well, especially in the second half we played much better,” Sarsen said. “Our corners were not as on as they usually are so that put us in a tough position. Actually, the one we didn’t hit cleanly was the one that went in. We struggled with our offensive corners but we did a better job in the second half of dominating play. These kids want it, they work hard, they wanted it so they grinded it out.”
After a scoreless opening half, Cappello scored the game’s only goal, off an assist by Cummings, with 22:01 remaining in the second half.
“Julia Cummings...just hit a really good ball out to me and as quick as I could, I just hit it and luckily it went into the corner,” Cappello said.
Lakeland advanced to the regional finals with a 4-1 triumph against Rondout Valley at Kingston High School on Oct. 30 in the regional semifinals, getting off to a 2-0 halftime advantage.
“We were able to accomplish our 2-0 lead by getting the ball dangerous in the circle and capitalizing on our corners with strong shots,” Lakeland senior captain Emily Kness said.
Kness was part of a well-balanced offensive attack in which she, Cappello, Sarah Bussell and Emma Halderman each scored a goal. Cummings recorded two assists and Jenna McCrudden one.
“Our team was able to have four different scorers because we passed well and were able to find the open player in the circle,” Kness said.
Defensively, backed by goalie Kellie Smith (1 save), Lakeland (21-0) also did the job as well.
“Defensively, our team was strong and stepped to the ball first which limited their opportunities to get shots off,” Kness said.