No. 1. No. 4. No. 1.
Those were the teams that came out of the Section 1 field hockey playoffs yesterday, advancing to Saturday’s regional final and a shot at state play.
Of course, No. 4 was the surprise. That would be the Pawling Tigers, who barely gave No. 2 North Salem (also the Tigers) an inch of space in completely shutting down what’s normally a very fast-paced, potent offense, winning 2-0.
It’s always a surprise when a No. 4 wins a championship. But keep in mind that a few games back North Salem coach Jen Frohman referred to the incredible parity found in C-sized schools, which, low in number and spread out, don’t regularly play each during the regular season. She remarked that the teams could have switched spots in the 1-10 seeding order without too much notice.
And it’s also true that Pawling, which won the section in 2004 and 2005, has been a frequent qualifier in recent years for the section finals.
Still, its win over year-in, year-out C powerhouse Bronxville was impressive and definitely an upset.
And for a team and school wracked recently with losses much greater than any that can be incurred on a field (from grandparents to a senior classmate lost in a car accident and more), to win as Pawling has is impressive.
Coach June Lagan’s team—now 11-6-1— may not be anyone’s favorite going forward in terms of odds. But it’s clearly the emotional favorite.
Like Pawling, No. 1 Lakeland, which weathered a tight first half before distancing itself from No. 2 Rye in a 3-0 win in the B finals, and No. 1 Mamaroneck, which won by the same score over No. 2 Scarsdale in the A matchup, will play this Saturday in the regional finals at White Plains High School.
Game times hinge on what teams emerge from tonight’s Section 8-vs.-11 games.
Yesterday, I covered Mamaroneck’s win—its third of the season over Scarsdale, which would have a perfect record if not for its encounters with Mamaroneck—Vince Mercogliano covered Lakeland’s win, which extended its record to 19-0; and Mike Dougherty covered Pawling’s win.
Below are our game accounts (in the order in which they were played) with my notes and a recap of New York State Association of Independent Schools champion Rye Country Day’s semifinal win over Greens Farms as it attempts to also capture the Fairfield Association title.
By Vincent Z. Mercogliano
BREWSTER – Lakeland doesn’t play in many close games but that’s exactly the situation that the four-time defending state champ found itself in during the waning minutes of the first half in Tuesday’s Section 1 Class B final against Rye.
The top-seeded Hornets were nursing a one-goal lead with less than a minute remaining before halftime when the Garnets shook loose on a breakaway, leaving junior goalkeeper Alex Halpin in a tough spot. She dove to bat away the first shot and then recovered to stop the rebound attempt, sending Lakeland into the break on a high note.
“It was a crazy momentum boost,” senior midfielder Gab Celentano said. “Alex stood on top of her head in the last few minutes of the first half. Thank God for her. If it wasn’t for her, that ball probably would have went in.”
The Hornets rode that momentum into the second half, scoring twice more to secure a 3-0 win and their fifth consecutive section title.
“I don’t know about for them, but for me it does,” Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen said when asked if it gets more difficult to win each season. “Nothing is acceptable unless you win. Everyone is like, ‘You’ll be fine.’ Well, maybe we will, maybe we won’t. We work hard, but it’s tough to win a section championship.”
Rye gave Lakeland everything that it could handle in the opening 20 minutes, creating a few corner opportunities and keeping the Hornets off the board.
“We were ping-ponging back and forth in the midfield for basically the entire first half,” Celentano said. “They’re a really strong team and they came out with a lot of energy, and that kind of threw us off balance a little bit. But we definitely stepped up to the challenge.”
Molly Fitzpatrick finally broke through on an assist from Brianna Muniz with 9:14 to play in the first half to give the Hornets their first goal and then they padded the lead early in the second half.
Celentano made it 2-0 when she cleaned up a deflection off a Rye defender, and then Stephanie Scala extended the lead to 3-0 before six minutes had elapsed in the second half.
“I made a few adjustments but I don’t think that was the difference,” Sarsen said. “I just think that the tide swung.”
Next up, Lakeland will play the Section 8-Section 11 winner in the regional final Saturday at White Plains High on its quest for a fifth straight state title.
“We play every game like it’s our last, and it means something,” said Halpin, who finished with five saves. “We don’t act like we deserve (anything). We just work our butts off to get the ending that we want.”
Notes: If Celentano’s shot hadn’t gone in, Lakeland would have been awarded a little-chance-for-goalie penalty stroke because the previous shot struck the defender’s body and would have otherwise gone in. Ref Thea Daday had her whistle to her mouth but wisely waited to see what would occur before blowing it for the stroke. … Rye actually finished with more corners than Lakeland, 7-4.
Pawling 2, North Salem 0
BREWSTER – A quick comeback might have served North Salem well.
There was no response, though, after Pawling clinched a 2-0 win in Tuesday’s Section 1 Class C field hockey championship game by scoring in the opening minutes of each half. It wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“Our coach always tells us to go out fast and furious and that’s definitely what we did,” Pawling senior Isabella Grillo said.
And the game played out exactly the way coach June Lagan drew it up.
Pawling (11-6-1) rushed in at the start before North Salem could settle in and got a quick shot on goal. Cecilia Diehl kicked the ball out, but there was a second wave. Amber Cody moved the ball through heavy traffic and Grillo swept it in with less than 90 seconds gone.
“We kept the pressure on the whole time,” Grillo said. “The first goal gave us the drive to score even more and win the way that we did. We worked really hard for this.”
The resounding thud got North Salem’s attention.
“It really shook us up,” North Salem senior Olivia Barnard said. “We knew that Pawling was a great competitor, but we weren’t ready to see that right away. We felt like we were still warming up when the ball went into the goal, so it crushed our spirit in a way.”
The resulting jolt of adrenaline helped, though.
North Salem (13-5-1) pushed back and began to apply pressure at the other end of the field. A suddenly motivated offense was active, forcing a string of corners, but none of those chances resulted in a goal and Pawling took a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Heads were shaking.
“Anytime you have somebody score in the first couple of minutes of a game like this it’s hard to rebound, but I thought we did a good job and we really dominated the rest of the first half,” North Salem coach Jennifer Frohman said. “We just couldn’t get the corners past them.”
And then it happened again.
Pawling came flying in after the break, creating all kinds of problems in front. Lana Felice scored the next goal just 94 seconds into the half. Cody again picked up the assist.
From that point on, North Salem played with one eye on the clock.
There was another string of corners but Pawling was quick to the ball on defense and was able to disrupt each set play. A couple of desperation runs in the final 13 minutes by North Salem also came apart without a shot.
“Give Pawling a lot of credit, they did a great job,” Frohman said. “You keep wondering, ‘When’s it going to go for us?’ But there’s nothing you can do about it. These girls, I’m very proud of what they did this year and I couldn’t have asked more from them.”
Notes: Part of Lagan’s game plan was to contain Barnard and fellow speedster Raquel Coppola. Coppola had a couple of early runs down the right side and had one two-shot sequence on netminder Caite Dickinson but was otherwise held in check. Particularly in the second half, Barnard was able to move through multiple defenders but Pawling quickly closed ranks and gave her no shooting room. Of Barnard, Lagan said, “She had great stick-work. She is a top player. We were able to slow her down and just frustrate her a little, maybe.” … But Lagan also likes her own team’s stick-work and quickness. “When we’re on, we’re pretty darn good,” she said, adding of her varsity and JV players, “They’re a pretty close-knit team. It helps that they’re friends with each other. ’We’re family’ is how we’ve been saying it since day one.”
Mamaroneck 3, Scarsdale 0
By Mike Dougherty
BREWSTER – Sometimes the best is just better.
Paced by a swarming offense that led to two first-half goals, top-seed Mamaroneck topped No. 2 Scarsdale 3-0 Tuesday night to claim the Section 1 Class A championship.
The Tigers will now play the winner of Wednesday’s Section 8 vs. 11 winner this Saturday at White Plains High School in the Class A regional final.
The game marked the 10th straight year that Mamaroneck, now 19-0-1, played in the Section 1 championship. The win was its seventh during that span.
“They bring it every time,” said Scarsdale coach Sharon Rosenthal, whose Raiders finish 17-3, all three of their losses being to Mamaroneck.
“They have such high-level skills,” Rosenthal added.
In fact, the score would have been much more lopsided without the play of Raider keeper Leah Cannon, whose 13 saves included multiple sliding saves.
“She’s outstanding. She played outstanding against them three times,” Rosenthal said of the all-state goalie.
Mamaroneck’s first goal came with 12:20 left in the first half off one of its 16 corners. (Scarsdale had seven).
Kimi Chiapparelli took a perfect feed from Ellie Seid and rifled the ball high right into the back of the cage.
After Cannon made a sliding save off a corner and then another shot was stopped by a Raider defender, Seid recorded the Tigers’ second goal off a Greta Massey assist with 5:22 left in the first half.
It wasn’t that Tigers’ goalie Caroline Jensen did nothing. But most of her six saves – including a couple from in close – came later in the second half.
Mamaroneck got its final goal from Lizzie Clarke on a beautiful passing sequence that saw Gracie Fitzgerald hit Karen Seid, who then fed Clarke, who backhanded the ball in with 12:48 to play.
John Savage, the Tigers’ 18-year head coach, credited Scarsdale with winning early loose-ball battles but noted that, from that point forward, his team won that battle.
He praised the defense of attackers Ellie and Karen Seid and Clarke, who stopped multiple Scarsdale breakout attempts.
Savage, whose first grandchild was born right after his squad’s semifinal win over Mahopac Saturday, said, “I’m smiling. It’s been a perpetual smile.”
“I love our chemistry – how we work together,” added Ellie Seid.
She and Massey, who’s a senior, referred to last year’s double overtime loss in the section finals to Suffern as motivational.
“The amount of effort our team put in and how we molded as a family is beyond words. We knew we could do this,” Massey said.
Notes: Caroline Knapp, normally a forward, played back early for Mamaroneck and picked off multiple passes to disrupt Tiger drives. But Savage pointed out that took something away from Scarsdale’s offense. … “This year, we were a lot more focused and brought it home,” Ellie Seid said of the championship win. … Massey said of Mamaroneck field hockey, “It is life. It is 24-7. When this happens, it makes it all worth it.
Rye Country Day 4, Greens Farms 2
In a Fairchester Association semifinal game, Natalie Needle and Emily Duarte each scored twice as the Wildcats advanced to Thursday’s championship game.
Mariana Lee had two assists and Hailey Nicholson one for Rye Country Day.
Kate Paliotta and Olivia Reynolds scored for Greens Farms.
Jenny Ross had 11 saves for Greens Farms. Emma Santucci stopped seven shots for Rye Country Day and Melanie Mandell had two saves.
The Wildcats, who won the New York State Association of Independent Schools championship Sunday, are ranked second in the Connecticut league. They will play No. 1 Greenwich Academy at Greenwich Thursday at 2:30 p.m. for the championship.