Girl’s Lax Notebook

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Yorktown Coach Ellen Mager will coach her last game on the Husker sideline this weekend at SUNY Cortland. RICK KUPERBERG PHOTO

Seger, Fusco Lead Charge in Yorktown’s Region 1 Title Triumph

Frawley Dominates Draws, Huskers Advance to NYS Class B Final 4 in Coach Mager’s Swan Song

Feisty Yorktown girls’ lacrosse Coach Ellen Mager isn’t easy to impress. When you’ve coached the vast number of All-Americans Mager has mentored; multi-national D-I champions like Alexis Venechanos and Katrina Dowd, it’s tough for newcomers to measure up to the standards that former Cornhusker greats have established during her remarkable two-decade run on the Yorktown sideline.

But the veteran head coach of 15 seasons with eight Section 1 titles to her credit (11 overall for the Yorktown program) and three state nuggets to boot, couldn’t help but be impressed by the performance Yorktown gave in its 13-3 NYSPHSAA Region 1 Class B title triumph over Section 2 champion Niskayuna last Saturday at Suffern High School.

The four-time NYS champion Huskers (12-8) needed overtime to beat Nisky, 10-9, last season, but this recent thrashing was total dominance from start to finish. As Mager’s prodigious coaching career comes to a close this weekend (as she announced Sunday), the Huskers are aptly headed back to the NYS Class B Final 4 at SUNY Cortland this Friday to face Section 8 champion Garden City.

“Yeah, it’s fitting, I guess,” said Mager, as she downplayed her impending exit as Yorktown’s coach this coming weekend, win, lose or draw. “It’s never been about me, but when you take it as seriously as I do, it can be draining. It can take years off your life when you’re as competitive as I am. When you want it so bad for these kids, it just gets tougher and tougher for me, so the time is right now, and I’ll just get on with things and follow Carli around.”

Mager’s daughter, Carli, is bound for Ohio State next season, poised to play for one of Mager’s all-time favorites, Buckeye Coach Venechanos, who learned a bunch from Mager during an All-American career at Yorktown.

“It’s the end of an era for me,” Mager said, “but I’m a much better coach than I was when I started. I’ve learned a lot about my players, the parents, the game, and 95% of it was a positive experience. This final bus ride to Cortland will be bittersweet; seeing the kid’s faces as the police escort us out of town is something I’ll never forget, though. The lifelong memories are what makes it so special, and kudos to these girls, they made it a great way to finish up. To see this team develop as it has, it’s really impressed me.”

Mager was particularly swayed by the play of two seniors – Syracuse-bound All-American Rilea Fusco (2G, 5A) and B.U.-bound Michelle Seger (6G, 2A) – who combined for eight goals and seven assists in what was a start-to-finish effort by the state-ranked (No.15) Huskers. After scoring the game’s first goal just over a minute in, Seger saved her best goal for last, going head-to-head (literally) with a Nisky defender prior to finishing.

“They just have such a special connection,” Mager said of Fusco and Seger, who narrowly missed out on her own All-American nod. “Some things are out of my control, but I thought they both deserved it (A-A). Neither one of them would allow this to be their last game and they played it like it might be.”

Yorktown M Ciara Frawley (3G), who owned the draw box, winning 12 of 15 faceoffs, and Caroline Keenaghan (1G, 3A) were all over the field for the Huskers.

“Ciara played the best we’ve ever seen her play,” Mager said of the junior. “She was incredible on defense, too, along with Emily Hirsch and Jenna McPherson.”

Yorktown advanced to face Long Island champion Garden City in the state semis at 9 a.m. Friday at SUNY Cortland. Long Island has been Yorktown’s bugaboo over the years and Garden City has won 14 NYS titles since 1995, far more than any other school in the state. G.C. senior captains, Celia Concannon, Devon Heaney and Kaitlyn Larsson, are the trio to prepare for as four-time NYS champion Yorktown readies for the state-ranked (No.1) Trojans (17-1).

Win, lose or draw, the Huskers, who have been beaten down by the injury bug season after recent season, deserve a ton of credit for never giving up, for never backing down and for upholding the strong tradition that is Yorktown girls’ lax, which Coach Mager deserves as much credit for than anybody.

Mager’s passion, which bordered on fury at times – whether she was coaching lax, girls’ hoops or working the chains at a Husker football game — has been unmatched for 20 years and they will miss her along the Yorktown sidelines: Know that!

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