ALDEN, N.Y. - Last year, Lakeland's record streak of nine straight state championships ended, when they lost to Garden City, 1-0, in the Class B title game.
This year, the Hornets returned the favor, defeating Garden City, 2-0, on Sunday, Nov. 17, at Alden High School. The win gave Lakeland its 10th state title in the last 11 years and 13th overall in their illustrious history, all under coach Sharon Sarsen.
The state final four was originally slated for Williamsville North High School (Buffalo) but was moved about 20 miles southeast to Alden because of heavy snowfall.
“I think everyone had a great mentality going into that game,” said Lakeland senior captain Jenna McCrudden, who was named to the state All-Tournament team. “Our intensity was so high, and everyone was working hard. Going into the game we had to worry about us and what we were going to do, and everyone did their job. It feels good to get revenge, but it feels even better to win just for us.”
Another Hornet senior captain, Erin Daly, was also named to the All-Tournament squad.
“As a senior, it feels amazing to be able to lead the team that brought back the state title,” Daly said. “Last year I remember hearing the final whistle and realizing that there was nothing else that we could do and we just lost. Feeling that loss makes me appreciate winning this year so much more, and made us push all season to be prepared to bring back the title.”
McCrudden put the Hornets up 1-0 with a rip off the corner, courtesy of an assist from senior captain Lauren Salazar, who earned the state tournament's Sportsmanship Award, with 14:28 remaining in the opening half.
The Hornets added to their lead when McCrudden scored again, this time unassisted. She found the back of the goal with an amazing individual effort, with six minutes left before halftime, putting Lakeland up 2-0.
“I re-defended really hard because I really wanted the ball back after losing it,” McCrudden said. “When I got the ball, I beat a couple of defenders and gave myself time and space for a shot on goal. The ball actually went in between the goalies' legs because Keirra [Ettere] was doing a really good job blocking her view.”
McCrudden's two first-half goals were all the Hornets needed, thanks to a rock-solid defensive effort in front of goalkeeper Celeste Pagliaroli, who garnered 2 saves.
“Defensively we came into the tournament with the mentality to maintain no-shot November and that we were a wall,” Daly said. “Although we did let up shots, our freshman goalie stepped up and we all played together as a unit. We really emphasized this year that we needed to play team defense. We were successful because in every position we were re-defending and working hard and when the ball did get to our side we were disciplined and organized.”
Lakeland 3, Pittsford Mendon 1
Saturday, Nov. 16
Lakeland earned the right to play in its 11th straight state title game with a 3-1 triumph against Pittsford Mendon a day earlier in the semifinals, also at Alden.
The Hornets (20-1-1) got on the board with 23:15 remaining in the opening half on a goal by Ettere, which was assisted by senior captain Emma Halderman.
McCrudden put the Hornets 2-0 with 3:53 left in the first half, with Daly garnering the assist.
“Erin Daly drew the defender to her and passed to me in the circle, I received and took a quick shoot from the top of the circle,” McCrudden said. “It all happened so quick and everyone was so excited and hugging. The intensity was so high the whole game.”
Emma Fon, with an assist from Daly, sealed the win on a goal with 6:54 to go in the game.
“Getting up 3-0 really secured the lead, so when they did end up scoring it wasn’t as big of a deal,” McCrudden said.
Pagliaroli recorded 2 saves in the semifinal victory.
Frankie Fava (All-Tournament), Katie Lemma, Mia Smith Jaden Ray, Emma Ryan, Sara Costa, Kristen O'Shea, Gabby Alfinito, Emily McGovern, Raquel Nieves, Samantha Graap, Meaghan Casey, Nancy Pagliaroli, Daniella Hart, Isabella Basulto, and Maeve Dineen-Herzog and assistant coaches Danielle Fiore and Shannon Scavelli are also part of the Hornets' state championship squad.