SHRUB OAK, N.Y. - Lakeland field hockey was scheduled to have its first practice on Sept. 29, with its opening-day contest coming Monday, Oct. 12, against visiting Horace Greeley, at 4:30 p.m.

“Words can’t describe how pumped I am to get back on the field with my teammates,” said Lakeland’s Keirra Ettere. “From playing in some type of format year round, to coming to a complete halt was devastating. Although we kept in touch, nothing beats being all together on the field, doing what we love.”

Ettere is one of the Hornets’ three senior captains, along with Emma Fon and Kristen O’Shea.

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“My co-captains and I have an amazing relationship,” Ettere said. “Emma Fon and Kristen O’Shea are two of my longtime friends and we have been on this field-hockey journey for about six years together. We are extremely understanding of one another. We keep open communication, and all contribute different perspectives while practicing and planning key elements that are crucial to leading a successful team.”

O’Shea, a defender, is excited, to be able to play with Ettere and Fon.

“Being named captain and being able to be a leader for such an accomplished team is so exciting for me,” O’Shea said. “Emma, Keirra, and I, have been playing together for such a long time and it’s amazing to be able to end our high school field hockey careers together as captains.”

Unfortunately, for the Hornets, they won’t be able to defend their Class B state title, which Lakeland has won 10 of the last 11 seasons. Concerns over COVID-19 have caused the cancelation of all fall state tournaments.

“Not being able to defend the state title is definitely disappointing, as it is my senior year and that would have been an amazing experience,” Ettere said. “I am just so grateful, considering the circumstances. We have been gifted a season, and we will be working hard toward a section title.”

Fon is equally as grateful.

“Winning the state title has been a great accomplishment for all the teams that played before us; however, we have always been taught, to not look past our next game,” Fon said. “Therefore, this season we will play every game like it’s our last. Keeping the team motivated through quarantine has been a challenge, but because of how strong the Lakeland field hockey family is, we were able to motivate each other to work our hardest at home. We are really excited to finally reunite and take the field.”

Throughout the pandemic, Ettere has kept in shape by keeping up with daily cardio and doing workouts on her own to keep her core strong.

“Also, our team did weekly challenges to maintain and improve our stick skills,” said Ettere, who is expected to play a bigger role in the midfield after previously seeing most of her playing time in her varsity career as a forward.

O’Shea also trained on her own, but is happy to have the opportunity to be able to do it with her teammates again.

“After spending months training alone, it’s so exciting to be able to be back on the field with my team and train all together again,” O’Shea said. “Even though it will be difficult and different than in the past, I’m just happy we have the opportunity to have a season.”

O’Shea, however, is currently out with a broken left hand. It is unknown when she will be ready to play.

Fon said the bond the three captains have made through field hockey and school allows them to work extremely well as a unit.

“These past few months have taught us how much we truly appreciate Lakeland and its field-hockey program,” Fon said. “We are determined to do whatever it takes to carry on the Lakeland field-hockey torch.”

Fon, who played forward last year, said she will play either forward or midfield this season.