Oh, and don’t forget gallons of determination.
The Lakeland field hockey team may lose a game next year or the year after or the year after.
It could lose more than one and it certainly could lose the title “State Champion.”
But the one thing it will never lose is its place in New York high school sports history. Five years of being unstoppable. Of being the best.
Sunday, Lakeland set a state field hockey record by winning its fifth straight state championship. These were in Class B. Throw in its previous three from when enrollment numbers placed it in Class A and that’s eight titles overall—a record-tying achievement.
Pre-season, coach Sharon Sarsen credited much of the program’s success to its Shrub Oak Athletic Club feeder program, which introduces the sport to kids who haven’t yet gotten their second teeth.
But then there’s Sarsen—or, Sars, as her players call her.
Some coaches scream at kids. Berate kids. She instructs.
Sarsen has been doing that for 32 seasons now.
She’s the single reason, more than any other, why athletic kids gravitate to a sport that never gets its due.
“She truly cares about us,” said Felicia Costanzo, who scored in yesterday’s lopsided win.
“She’s completely dedicated to the sport. Her passion and being the best rubs off on us,” fellow defenseman Kim Monteferante said.
The two, along with forward Steph Scala and converted middie Gab Celentano, round out Lakeland’s seniors.
Those are big names to lose. But four is a small number, so Lakeland will be back next year.
And as long as Sarsen’s on the sidelines, you’ve got to figure they’ll be in every game—All Out, All In, as Sarsen said.
Below is my game story on yesterday’s championship with some extra notes.
CICERO – They came fast. They came hard. They came to win.
Then they did.
You can call it “One for the Thumb.”
But most of all, call it a piece of history.
The Lakeland Hornets field hockey team routed Section 5 Brighton 7-0 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School Sunday to claim its fifth straight Class B New York State championship.
“We’re just very proud of where the program is now,” 32-year coach Sharon Sarsen said. “Awards are nice but it’s the days, the people and the games. We’re just so happy. So many people doubted us but we found what worked.”
Worked and worked and worked this season as Lakeland finished the year 22-0.
Sunday’s contest was over early.
Sophomore Dana Bozek (pictured above with ball) scored the first of her three goals with fewer than three minutes played, blasting a shot high from 15 yards out to beat Brighton starting goalie Veronica Verstraten, who had 12 saves – some acrobatic—before leaving late in the game with an injury.
Four-and-a-half minutes later, Steph Scala scored the first of her two goals, the assist going to junior Molly Fitzpatrick.
The second half saw the same kind of domination. Starting Hornet goalie Alex Halpin was pulled after making four saves. Her replacement, Amanda Santos, stopped three shots. Then Sarsen lifted Santos for Beames Madison, who had one stop.
Meanwhile, Bozek scored with 27:33 left off a corner and Celentano assist, Fitzpatrick ((#7, pictured with Scala, #17, after goal) buried a rebound, then Bozek, taking a feed from Meghan Fahey, scored on a backhand to make it 6-0 with 18:03 left.
Scala wrapped up the scoring against backup goalie Jia Ming Ma off a Fitzpatrick feed.
“This shows that all the hard work pays off,” said Costanzo, who’ll play next year for Quinnipiac University.
“I didn’t expect a state championship at the beginning of the season,” said Scala, one of only four seniors on the team.
Scala attributed the team’s success to the fact “there’s not one premier player.”
Sarsen, who noted she nixed pre-season slogan talk of “One for the Thumb” and “Strive for Five” as “too cocky,” said the team settled on All Out, All In.”
She pointed to Lakeland’s ability to shut down its opposition as key, saying, “We may not be the prettiest team out there… but we take away other teams’ strengths and here we are.”
Notes: Monteferante, as usual, was a wall for Lakeland—a hustling wall. Sarsen emptied her bench but Monteferante, who’ll play for Dickinson College next year, remained on the field, running down every ball. Yeah, yesterday’s game was over early, in a sense. But Monteferante explained Lakeland wouldn’t sit back because it’s too easy for things to quickly change. The thing she’ll recall from this year’s squad is “the heart and determination to keep going.” … Scala said she thought losing to Darien (Connecticut) last year and winning close games against it and John Jay-Cross River this year—John Jay a remarkable 1-0 win with Bozek scoring in the last four-plus minutes—made her squad stronger. “It made us experience how to get up from mistakes and handle adversity,” said Scala, who, like Celentano, won’t play field hockey in college, meaning Sunday was the last hurrah. … With a great defense in front of her, Halpin sometimes doesn’t get a lot of work nor a lot of credit. Yesterday, she had to make only four saves before Sarsen pulled her to play her other two goalies. But Sarsen, who in part cited as key Halpin’s play in the Section 1 championship vs. Rye and then in the regional final against Garden City, pointed to the junior as being a player who surpassed expectations. While many Lakeland players start playing when in elementary school, Halpin only took up the sport last year as a sophomore. “I think she surprised everyone,” Sarsen said. … Sarsen noted, after having her move back and forth this season, she moved last year’s leading points scorer, Celentano, from forward to midfield for good about six games into the season. She wasn’t Lakeland’s leading point scorer this season but the speedster’s offensive and defensive play were big reasons for Lakeland’s success. Winning the championship as she leaves the game means “the world,” Celentano said. … Costanzo will remember the championship, of course, but she’ll also remember her team’s third goal. “It was really special. I play D and don’t score a lot,” she said. .. Instead of relying on just a coach scouting report, Scala noted seven or eight Hornets watched Brighton’s 1-0, double-overtime, penalty-stroke win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in Saturday’s semifinals. While Scala didn’t say it, as exciting as that game was, it was clear that neither semifinal team had Lakeland’s speed, field vision and stick-handling. … Celentano received the sportsmanship award and Costanzo, Monteferante and Bozek were named to the All-Tournament team.