SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – One could search this entire country and would be hard-pressed to find a greater dynasty than the Lakeland field hockey program.
In 2018, the nationally ranked Hornets finished 22-1, outscored their opponents 141-8, and won their 10th consecutive Section 1 Class B title.
Their state-record streak of nine consecutive state titles, however, came to end with a 1-0 loss to Garden City in the championship game.
But dynasties don’t rebuild. They reload.
Leading the way this year for Lakeland will be senior captains Emma Halderman, Jenna McCrudden, Erin Daly and Lauren Salazar.
En route to their 10th straight state title appearance, the players racked up a laundry list of accomplishments: Halderman (All-League, All-Elite), McCrudden (All-League, All-Elite Honorable-Mention), Daly (All-League, All-Elite, All-Section, All-State) and Salazar (All-League).
Also returning are Frankie Fava (senior, midfield), Keirra Ettere (junior, forward), Samantha Graap (senior, defense), Kristen O’Shea (junior, defense), and Emily McGovern (junior, defense).
They will be joined by talented newcomers, led by sophomore midfielder Mia Smith, who won a gold medal in this year’s AAU Junior Olympic Games, and junior forward Emma Fon, who were each brought up to the varsity team for last year’s postseason run.
Other new players are freshman goalkeeper Celeste Pagliaroli, sophomore forward Emma Ryan, junior defender Daniella Hart, and junior forward Nancy Pagliaroli.
Returning to the team is Raquel Nieves, a senior who sat out last year.
“I hope for Mia to solidify the midfield with her strong skill set and for Emma to help with scoring,” said Sharon Sarsen, who is entering her 38th year as coach. “I hope for Raquel to give our attack quickness and experience and for Celeste to show her athleticism in goal and compete each day. I hope that Emma Ryan can boost our scoring, Daniella can strengthen our defense and that Nancy can show her gamesmanship and athleticism on the attack.”
Sarsen wants her team to compete every day and improve throughout the season.
“We want to believe in each one another and support each other,” said Sarsen, whose team will start this season at Yorktown at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30. “We will strive to win a section championship this season. In order to accomplish these goals, we have to work towards our goals every practice. We have to handle adversity with maturity and composure. We have to believe in our abilities. Our season is not a sprint, but a marathon.”
Under the leadership of Sarsen, Lakeland has won 19 section titles and 12 state titles (1990, 2003, 2006, and 2009-17). During her 37-year tenure, her teams have gone 639-72-39.
Lakeland’s last loss to a Section 1 team was in 2008 (Putnam Valley) and their last home loss came in 2011 (Darien, Conn.).
Last year, Sarsen was named National High School Field Hockey Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association.
“It has been an amazing run this past decade for the Lakeland field hockey program,” said Sarsen, who has won 19 sectional titles. “I don’t think you can put your finger on one thing that made it all happen. It was a combination of great talent, great work ethic, strong families and community support, district support, commitment to the process, luck and execution. We feel so proud of what this program and the players has accomplished.”