Editor’s Note: The time and location of the state semifinal matchup has been updated.
SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – For the second straight year, Lakeland hosted the Region 1 field hockey finals, with the Hornets competing this season against Section 9 champion Rondout Valley, in the Class B title game on Nov. 9.
Lakeland (18-1-1) jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead and didn’t look back in a 3-0 victory. The win gave the Hornets their 11th straight regional title and a trip to the Class B state semifinals.
“Winning the regional title on our home field, we got to do it last year, too, and it was like the most amazing experience,” said Lakeland’s Erin Daly. “We had all our fans here. All our friends decided to come out and it was really special for us.”
Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen enjoyed being able to clinch a regional title at home as well.
“It was a beautiful day—cold, very cold—but it was a beautiful, sunny day,” Sarsen said. “Last year, we played a regional final here and it was windy. The conditions were great today. The kids were excited to play on their home turf. It was great to bring the regional championship home on our own turf.”
The Hornets will now take on Mendon High School in a state semifinal contest at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Arden High School.
“Going back to the final four is really insane,” said Lakeland’s Jenna McCrudden. “The fact that we get to do it again is awesome.”
If Lakeland beats Mendon, they would play in the title game following day at 3 p.m. at Williamsville North. Lakeland is looking to win their 10th state title in the last 11 years, and 13th overall.
“The key to winning for us is just playing all together, moving the ball, playing how like we know we can in games,” Daly said. “When we move the ball and all play together, we play really well.”
Sarsen said that her squad will have to improve on its corners if it wants to be successful upstate.
“We have to get our corners down,” Sarsen said. “We have to do better on our corners.”
Against Rondout Valley, Mia Smith put the Hornets up 1-0, scoring off a rebound, with 15:53 to go in the opening half.
“It was great that Mia scored early,” Sarsen said. “If we went into the half 0-0, it would have had a different feeling but putting that goal in and Nancy [Pagliaroli’s] of course, that little tip, touch at the post, that was the backbreaker. That gave us even more confidence.”
Sarsen was referring to Lakeland’s next goal, scored by Pagliaroli off an assist from Daly, making it 2-0 with just 2:59 to go before halftime.
“That extra goal let us all relax and everyone started to settle in, started playing the way we knew we could and we played really good defense,” Daly said.
McCrudden scored the game’s final goal with 24:36 remaining in the contest.
“It was after a bunch of misses,” McCrudden said. “I was really getting discouraged but my teammates kept pushing me through so I didn’t stop shooting. Then eventually one went in.”
Defensively, Lakeland was solid, not allowing one shot on goal in front of its goalkeeper Celeste Pagliaroli.
“We are just really strong all over the field,” Daly said. “Every single one of our players work really hard in the offseason and in season, so it gets us very well rounded, enabling to control all parts of the play, which helps us.”
Katie Lemma, Jaden Ray, Emma Ryan, Emma Fon, Keirra Ettere, Sara Costa, Kristen O’Shea, Frankie Fava, Gabby Alfinito, Emma Halderman, Emily McGovern, Lauren Salazar, Raquel Nieves, Samantha Graap, Meaghan Casey, Daniella Hart, Isabella Basulto, and Maeve Dineen-Herzog, are also part of the Hornets’ regional title squad.
“We played really well defensively and in the midfield,” Sarsen said. “We were very off on our corners. So we are going to put some time in shoring them up. I thought we played better moving the ball the second half then we did the first half. We got better as the game went on.”
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