**I’ll be making the trip to cover Lakeland this weekend. For updates, you can follow me on twitter @philterrigno and i’ll also take some photos of the stadium and share them here.
When the Lakeland field hockey team takes the field Saturday in the Class B state semifinals, several of its seniors will have reached the state final four each year of their high school careers.
For some of the other Hornets, it’s their first foray into state finals play.
“It’s very exciting being a part of it as a young player,” Lakeland sophomore Molly Fitzpatrick said. “I’m seeing how it works for next season. Not many girls my age get to go to states and play.”
Lakeland has received key contributions in the postseason from underclassmen Fitzpatrick, Dana Bozek, Sarah Bard and Alex Halpin.
Fitzpatrick scored twice in Lakeland’s rout of Section 9’s Rondout Valley in the regional semifinals and Halpin has seen time as a reserve for starting goalie Mairead Hourihan.
“(Fitzpatrick) never starts a game but she has like 18 or 19 goals, so she gets a lot of minutes,” Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen said. “Alex is the backup goalie. This was new for her because she never played goalie before.”
Win or lose this weekend, Lakeland will part with a group of seven seniors while ushering in underclassmen that have already gained valuable postseason minutes.
“Some seniors that have been there and have invested more, you’re like ‘Wow, that was a great ride,” Sarsen said. “Then you turn the page and look forward to what they have in front of them and you turn your page and look to the younger players that are waiting.”
Lakeland will face Maine-Endwell Saturday. The Hornets edged Maine-Endwell in the 2009 state final.
“(Maine-Endwell’s) kids will be skillful and tactically aware,” Sarsen said. “They will know our strengths, and hopefully we have a few more than they know of.”
Class B state semifinal
Lakeland vs. Maine-Endwell (Section 4)
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Cicero-North Syracuse high school
Key players: Lakeland – Gianna Bensaia, senior, midfield; Mairead Hourihan, senior, goalie; Kristen Conroy, senior, midfield. Maine Endwell – Gabby Stein, senior, midfield; Emma Valentine, senior, forward; Josie Trichka, senior, forward.
Outlook: With 56 combined years of coaching experience between Lakeland’s Sharon Sarsen and Maine-Endwell’s Heather Doyle, don’t expect either side to get lost in the moment of the state semifinal. Lakeland just concluded an undefeated league campaign in which it made quick work of multiple Section 1 teams littered with college-caliber players. The 14-3 Spartans have been successful but will have their hands full trying to match the cohesion and discipline of Lakeland.
Next up: The winner plays the Pittsford Sutherland (Section 5)/Miller Place (Section 11) winner Sunday at 2 p.m. in the state Class B final.