The New York State field hockey championships offer more to the Lakeland Hornets than just the chance to win their fourth consecutive state title.
Sharon Sarsen’s 21-player squad is competing against some of New York’s elite field hockey players while enjoying the last precious moments of a bonding experience that began with the season’s first practices in late August.
“This is a bonding opportunity and they’ll never forget this weekend for the rest of their lives,” Sarsen said before her team’s Class B semifinal win over Section 4’s Maine-Endwell. “Win or lose, they’ll never forget it and we try to make it special for them.”
Lakeland will face Pittsford Sutherland Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Class B final.
12 team from three classes competed at the expansive Michael J. Bragman stadium at Cicero-North Syracuse high school.
“It’s an amazing feeling, to be a part of it and this opportunity to be here for four years in a row for this school,” Lakeland junior Gab Celentano said.
During their free time before Saturday’s matchup, the Lakeland players embarked on a team trip to the nearby Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse.
“I didn’t want to come up (with the players) and go to the mall because one year we went the mall and the mall is a zoo,” Sarsen joked. “One of my coworkers said, ‘why don’t you take them to the zoo?”
After their team-building event, the Hornets focused on their encounter with the 14-3 Spartans.
“When we got back to the hotel, we went into our rooms and relaxed and lied down for a bit,” Celentano said. “Then we got together in a room and we spoke about the game and what we were going to do.”
For Sarsen, her team’s semifinal game provided the chance to revisit a matchup that last took place in the 2009 Class B state final, which Lakeland won 2-0.
“(Maine-Endwell) is one of the top programs in the state and they have been around for a long, long time,” Sarsen said. “It’s one of those things where they have the experience, the tradition and you’re going to get a great matchup from them.”
Sarsen and Maine-Endwell coach Heather Doyle combine for more than 50 years of coaching experience.
“It’s not anything like coach against coach,” Doyle said. “I look at it where we are two coaches that have been here before and have a tradition of success and are able to keep that consistency.”