SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – The previous 11 seasons, Lakeland ended their season upstate in the Class B state title game, winning it 10 times.
That wasn't the case this year, as COVID-19 restrictions put the Hornets in a regional tournament within the section.
No matter the tournament, the result was the same. Lakeland earned another title for its trophy case.
No. 1 Lakeland blanked No. 2 North Salem, 6-0, in the championship game of the Putnam-Northern Westchester Small School regional tournament on Friday, Nov. 20.
“This whole season was very strange, but we were all just happy, we even got the chance to play,” said Lakeland's Emma Fon. “It was sad we weren’t able to get to states this year, but I'm proud of how far my team has come during this difficult time, and being able to win our last game on our home turf.”
Senior captains Fon (2G, 1A) and Keirra Ettere (3G, 1A) led the Hornets to the title.
“I’m so grateful we were able to have this season in general, and it feels even better to have our last win on our home turf,” Ettere said. “Words can’t describe how happy I am, that we were able to accomplish what we did this season. I’m so proud of how much we have grown together. It feels amazing.”
Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen said she was grateful for all the people who worked to make this season possible.
“We had smiles on our faces,” Sarsen said. “It was a rollercoaster, each and every day. Today being one of the most stressful, learning we lost our starting goalie to contact tracing today, and not knowing if we would be able to play today, since Lakeland announced it was moving to remote learning until Dec. 7.
“We are so thankful to have had this opportunity and appreciate all the people who had to work so hard every day to make it happen,” Sarsen added. “Seeing the kids’ enjoyment tonight reminded us why it's worth it.”
Fon set the tone when she scored 29 seconds into the game, off an assist by Ettere, whose shot hit off the goalies' pads, with Fon putting in the rebound.
“I was able to score that early in the game because we attacked right off the bat and got the ball in front of the goal,” Fon said. “I scored by being scrappy on the goalies' pads. It felt good to get an early lead for my team.”
Ettere put the Hornets (13-1) up 2-0 with just 28 seconds left in the first quarter, off an assist from Fon.
“It was important to get a lead in the beginning of the game, because we knew North Salem had speed and a few key players. that could unleash at any moment,” Ettere said.
After scoring in the second quarter, Ettere finished her hat trick, with an unassisted goal with 9:25 remaining in the final stanza, putting Lakeland up 6-0.
“I knew it was my last time in this uniform, and that I had to leave it all on the field, so I took every opportunity I had to put the ball in the back of the goal,” Ettere said.
Mia Smith (1G), Jaden Ray (1A), Kristen O'Shea (1A), and Maeve Dineen-Herzog (1 save) also earned their way into the box score.
Lakeland defeated visiting No. 4 Hendrick Hudson, 9-1, in the semifinals, on Nov. 18 jumping out to a 4-0 first-quarter lead.
“In our game against Hendrick Hudson, we got off to a 4-0 lead, because we realized that these are our last games together and we want to win,” Fon said. “We came out with a lot of fight and confidence to play the best that we can. Each and every player brought something to this game, to take us to the next level.”
Lakeland scored once in the second quarter and three more times, in the third quarter to take an 8-0 lead.
“Entering the third quarter, we made sure to pre-scan and execute the opportunities we had by being scrappy in the circle,” Ettere said. “We also used extra communication to support one another, both offensively and defensively, to connect better as a whole unit.”
Fon (2G, 2A), Ettere (2G, 1A), Ray (1G, 1A), Smith (1G, 1A), Nancy Pagliaroli (1G), Emma Ryan (1G), and Katelyn Cerrato (1G) did the scoring for the Hornets.
Celeste Pagliaroli (45 minutes, 2 saves) and Dineen-Herzog (15 minutes), shared the time in goal for Lakeland.