SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – It was a great ride for Lakeland’s Jenna McCrudden and Erin Daly, who ended their careers by winning a state title and earning All-American honors.
Now, Lakeland’s dynamic duo, McCrudden, an offensive superstar, and Daly, the Hornets’ defensive leader, are headed off to play in college.
McCrudden is excited for the opportunity to play at Kent State University.
“I have been waiting for this for so long, and I’m so excited for this opportunity to play at Kent State,” McCrudden said. “I’ve been working really hard this summer to hopefully make a difference there. Unfortunately, a lot of the college conferences are starting to cancel their seasons, but luckily the MAC (Kent’s conference) is still on for the fall.”
McCrudden said that, at the outset, she really just wants to keep improving and keep getting better at KSU.
“Going into the fall season, I want to go and get some playing time,” McCrudden said. “There are so many people on the roster at Kent that are so talented, and it’ll really be a fight to get on the field this year. More importantly, I want to win the MAC championship. I’m so grateful to be a part of a program that is so competitive, and I really do think that we can win.”
Winning is also Daly’s goal at UConn.
“At UConn, ultimately [the goal is] to win a national championship,” Daly said. “I cannot wait to go and play at UConn. As of now, our season is still on for fall, and I am very excited to get the opportunity to play for the coaching staff.”
McCrudden, who moved to Lakeland from Putnam Valley in seventh grade, and Daly might be leaving Lakeland but the strong bond between the two of them will never be broken.
“Erin was one of the first people I knew from Lakeland when I moved here, so we’ve known each other for a long time,” McCrudden said. “During the season, all the seniors were really close, and we did a lot together outside of practice and games. I think having a team that was close made it easy to understand each other and communicate.”
Daly said the success Lakeland has enjoyed, winning 10 of the last 11 Class B state titles, is because of the chemistry.
“Our entire senior class has been playing on the same team since seventh grade, and Jenna and I have been together since third,” said Daly, who first played with McCrudden in the Shrub Oak Athletic Club. “Playing together for so long really helps with developing a successful dynamic, which enabled us to work well together on the field. Jenna and I were able to find a good balance, with her primarily leading the offense, and myself with the defense.”
McCrudden said that losing in the state finals in 2018 was a hard thing to comprehend and it took awhile to mentally recover from, but it also set the Hornets up for success in 2019.
“Everyone was working harder in the offseason and everyone wanted it a little bit more,” McCrudden said. “When we actually got to the state final, we had nothing to prove; we were just happy to be back so we could try again. We didn’t have the nine-year streak in the back of our heads; it was a fresh start, and we could play for the team that was there, not the last nine teams that had won before us.”
Daly felt that losing the state championship in 2018 was a reality check.
“We were not pushing ourselves hard enough,” Daly said. “As a result, in the summer of 2019, many of us worked nearly every day, on our own, to better ourselves. After feeling what it was like to come so close to winning, and then right at the end to lose it all, I was determined to never feel that again.”