CICERO – None of the Lakeland Hornets seemed content — until after Sunday’s game.
From the seniors already committed to playing in college to the first-year players that could have easily basked in their program’s success, everyone was motivated.
The team’s hunger and ambition culminated in a 6-0 drubbing of Section 5’s Pittsford Sutherland in the Class B final, giving Lakeland its fourth consecutive state title and seventh overall.
“We said ‘Defend till the end’ once the season started. That was our motto,” senior Gianna Bensaia said. “We said it every single game. People say when we’re winning 6-0, ‘Why are you saying defend, you’re doing a good job?’ It’s more of a defend for (Lakeland).”
Lakeland is now second on the state all-time list for field hockey titles behind eight-time winner Marathon.
Before this streak of four straight titles began in 2009, the Hornets other wins came in 1990, 2003 and 2006.
Bensaia, Rebecca Bard and Kristen Conroy end their high school careers with four state championships.
“Freshman year, when I first joined Lakeland, it was good to walk onto the team and know what a success it is,” Bensaia said. “That is when the four-peat started and it feels good to see the improvement here over the four years.”
The win concludes a 22-win campaign in which the Hornets outscored their opponents by more than 100 goals and lost a single game, to Connecticut’s Darien.
“We’ve worked hard, 12 months every year since freshman year,” Conroy said. “It’s time to show that and it we showed it in today’s game.”
Freshman Dana Bozek fielded a rebound and deposited a shot in the back of the net to give Lakeland a 1-0 lead with 16:26 remaining in the first period.
Junior Gab Celentano followed with two goals, off assists from sophomore Molly Fitzpatrick and Bard, to give Lakeland a 3-0 advantage.
Bensaia scored on a direct hit off a corner with 1:42 left in the first period and Abby Murdock and Steph Scala added goals in the second half.
Lakeland had 11 penalty corners to Pittsford Sutherland’s zero, and held the Knights to a single shot on goal.
Bensaia and Conroy were disruptive in the midfield, spoiling the Knights’ transition opportunities.
“The midfield and the defense did amazing today,” Lakeland goalie Mairead Hourihan said. “They’ve done well all season and today was the icing on the cake.”
The Hornets advanced to the title game after beating Section 4’s Maine-Endwell 1-0 Saturday.
“(The game against Maine-Endwell) was such a battle and the fact that we found a way to win against a great opponent was remarkable,” said Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen, whose field hockey teams have 509 wins in her 31 seasons at the helm. “As easy as the final was, with yesterday’s game, we were fortunate and blessed to move forward.”