By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor@Directrays
Both Class A HORACE GREELEY and Class B LAKELAND were expecting so much more to their respective 2020 field hockey campaigns when the 2019 season had ended 13 months ago. Lakeland was coming off its 10th state title in 11 years, 13th overall, and Greeley was returning nearly 80% of a team that had reached the 2019 state finals. Clearly, optimism was running rampant in both camps during their winter workouts, where both Coach Sharon Sarsen’s Hornets and Suki Sandhu’s Quakers were chomping at the bit for 2020’s arrival.
Then, we all know what happened back in March: COVID-19 put the deathnail into spring prep sports across the country before many states were eventually forced to regionalize their fall sectional playoffs and cancel their respective state tournaments. Such was the case in NYS where Section 1 produced a playoff format that crowned six regional champions, including Horace Greeley, which took home top honors in the Putnam-Northern Westchester large school tournament, and Lakeland, which ran through the Putnam-Westchester small school division like waves through an ocean.
It was far from optimal, given the hopes of the student athletes in these two highly respected programs, but it was 100 times better than what our NYSPHSAA winter athletes will have to deal with as 2020 turns to 2021 with the coronavirus pandemic still wreaking havoc on a global scale.
LAKELAND (13-1, 7-0) might have had its unbeaten streak against Section 1 foes snapped at 211 games in a 3-1 loss to Class A Mamaroneck, but that didn’t prevent the top-seeded Hornets from knocking off North Salem in the regional finals and getting four All-NYS players, including seniors M Keirra Ettere (33G, 10A, 76P, a lethal finisher), F Emma Fon (19G, 10A, 48P), D Emily McGovern and versatile junior M Mia Smith (10G, 11A, 31P). All-Section HM honors went to sophomore G Celeste Pagliaroli and junior M Jaden Ray (8G, 20A, 36P) while Meg Casey and Danielle Hart were selected All-League for a Hornet club that outscored its opponents 89-6 on the year. Lakeland won its 24th consecutive league title and hopes to continue its rich tradition for a long time to come.
“I loved coaching this team and these seniors,” legendary Hall of Fame Coach Sharon Sarsen said. “Maybe it was the circumstances but they were so hard-working, humble, thankful, respectful to each other and happy every day to be playing. There was never any drama. They were truly 100% supportive of their teammates and coaches, and they brought all the younger players along with them – sharing their experience and teaching them “the Lakeland way”. We, as coaches, never had to do any damage control. Everyone was totally respectful, compliant and a joy to be around. The improvement and execution by our senior class allowed us to play at a high level. We are very proud that we were able to be in a small class of elite teams in Section 1 this year.”
HORACE GREELEY continued its recent run of greatness. The state of Suki Sandhu’s Greeley field hockey program is such that many believed the top-seeded Quakers were the top team in Section 1 this season, though a 2-1 loss to Lakeland might suggest otherwise. However, Coach Sarsen conceded afterward that her Hornets may have stolen a win that night. Greeley went on to post a 10-1 regular season, 12-1 overall, with a 75-3 overall scoring edge this season. That kind of dominance led to four All-NYS nods, including senior M Lily Schoonmaker (31G, 6A, 68P, 6 hat tricks), senior M Natalie Laskowski (12G, 11A, 35P), senior Caroline Flannery (7G, 11A, 25P) and senior D Emma Terjesen. Colgate-bound Schoonmaker will go down as, perhaps, one of the finest
Quakers in history after being named All-NYS for a second time.
Stephanie Kasulka garnered an All-Section nod while Siena Jarin, Lucca Sonne and Grace Arrese (7G, 11A, 25P) were each awarded All-Section HM. Hannah Lane (7G, 3A, 17P) was an All-League honoree.
“I am so proud of my team this year,” Greeley boss Sandhu said. “Despite all the challenges of playing with a mask, they had such an exceptional season. We had 16 seniors with six senior captains this year, all of whom will be missed dearly next year. Their leadership will echo through our younger players for a few seasons. I’m looking forward to my underclassmen stepping up to the plate and we will be working hard as always.”
CARMEL (7-4-1) had one of its finest seasons in school history, reaching the Putnam-Northern Westchester large school regional finals before losing to Greeley, 2-0, giving the Quakers all they could handle before succumbing to the 2019 state runner-ups. The third-seeded Rams got where they got on the backs of the Rosenquest sisters, who were as skillful as any Carmel players before them. All-NYS senior M Kylie Rosenquest (10G,6A, 26P) and All-Section sophomore M Laila Rosenquest (13G, 10A, 36P) were difference makers, the kind of pure field hockey players Carmel hasn’t had in quite some time, if ever. Kylie will pass the torch to Laila as the Rams hope to build upon their recent success, which has produced two All-NYS players the past two seasons (Caitlin Tully the other).
“Kylie and Laila work incredibly hard, as do all our girls,” Carmel Coach Aislinn Breslin said. “They put in a ton of time in the off season to make sure they were at their best for this season. Watching them together has been a ton of fun and I only wish Kylie had more years ahead for us. All the girls overcame a lot of adversity and managed to make it an amazing season, one they’ll never forget “
Kasey Lewis secured an All-Section HM nod while Nikki McGough (3G,1A, 7P) was named All-League.
MAHOPAC finished a strong season by reaching the semifinals and when No.5 Somers met No.4 Mahopac in the quarterfinals of the Putnam-Northern Westchester large school tournament there was a ton on the line, most notably respect. Neither would have what it took to knock off Greeley down the road, but a Final 4 appearance would be on the line and Mahopac took full advantage in a 1-0 win over the Tuskers. Greeley would go on to eliminate the Indians in the semis. Mahopac enjoyed a resurgence this season behind the stellar two-way play of All-NYS senior Krista Dietz (10G, 9A, 29 P), who flexed all year and cemented her legacy as an all-time Indian great.
Junior M Gabby Gonzalez (3G, 3A, 9P), an All-Section choice, will be asked to pick up much of the slack next season as the go-to scorer. Mahopac seniors D Carly Ravoli and F Tatina Moran were named All-League while Emma Witt and KerryAnn King were named All-League HM.
The Indians (7-5-1) outscored their opponents 2-to-1 on the year and posted four shutouts.
“We had eight amazing senior girls, led by co-captains Krista Dietz and Carli Ravoli,” Mahopac Coach Dona DiMaggio said. “We had a strong back field with Kerrianne King on the left and Emma Witt on the right. Katie Iarussi split goal time. Tatiana Moran and Annie Kasparian had a strong presence on the front line of attack. And Brenna Meaney used her speed at midfield.
“Carly and Krista were amazing leaders,” the coach added. “Both possess incredible skill sets and also incredible leadership. Krista has committed to play at Pace next year.”
And when she does, the Indians will look to reload.
“The team will have huge holes to fill next year with the loss of our seniors, especially our two captains.” DiMaggio said. “But our upcoming juniors and sophomores have been extremely impressive. Returning attack players include Ava Jennings and Megan Gallagher. In the middle is All-Section player Gabby Gonzalez. In the backfield is Gabby Cazzari, Victoria Fusco and Avery Przymylski, and in goal is Stephanie Miller. The sophomores will return starter Marie Camastro, Emma Rooney, Grace Witt, Kristina Rush, Maya O’Keefe, and goalie Maddie Orsini, who was outstanding in postseason play this year, and numerous amazing sophomores will be moving up from this year’s undefeated JV program.”
No.6 FOX LANE was eliminated at Carmel where the Rams were too fast and skilled for the reguilding Foxes and All-Section G Ally De Palma, who kept the Foxes in most games this season. Kelly Demore was named All-League.
No.7 YORKTOWN (2-7-2) was knocked off by No.2 John Jay-Cross River in the opening round of the regions, but All-Section G Adeline Araneo will go down as one of the program’s top goalies.
“Addy was the backbone of the team,” said Husker Coach Courtney Hyndman, who, in her first year at Yorktown, was supremely impressed by the Huskers, including the efforts of All-Leaguer Alexa Borges and All-League HM Kaitlin Regan and Kaylee Robustelli. “Everyone could rely on Addy and knew that she would do whatever it takes to stop that ball from going in the goal. We had a very tough season and schedule and in our short 11-game season she came up huge with 134 saves and 505 career saves. I look forward to seeing what Addy does at the next level. It is so hard to see this amazing group of girls end their time with Yorktown field hockey, but I have been so fortunate to coach them. They are going to excel in college.
“We didn’t score a lot and when we did it was a bunch of different scorers,” Hyndman added. “Our seniors were outstanding. They came to play and all had a different role on our team. We had Natalie Muscolino down low as sweep. Her powerful hits and strength on defense will be missed next year. Maiya Munoz was our right defender. She was really good at marking up their cherry picker and getting the ball out of our defensive circle. Forward Kaylee Robustelli was a huge help this season. She had so many shining moments on the field and really improved in all aspects of the game. Goalie turned forward, captain Nicole Peters, was one of the most versatile players this year. She came up with huge saves in the few games she played in goal and scored a goal as well. Center midfielder Alexa Borges was the go-to-girl once the ball got out of the defensive zone. While losing six incredible seniors is going to certainly impact the team, there are insanely talented girls that will continue on in the years to come. We saw a lot of great things this season from so many of the Underclassmen. I think they will all step up next year in different ways. I am excited to see what the off-season brings and how well we can all continue to grow the team and program together.”
HEN HUD, the No.4 seed in the Putnam-Northern Westchester small school regional advanced to the quarters via a 4-0 win over No.5 PANAS when Paige Johannsen scored twice and Logan Gougelmann and All-League choice Emma Schembari added a goal. All-Section HM choice Taeghan Dapson added two assists to add to her team-leading totals. Emma Schebari was an All-League choice for the Sailors.
Gianna Salerno was an All-Section HM choice for the Panthers while Sophia Giglio and G Kate Astrab were named All-League.
BREWSTER did not compete in the playoffs due to COVID-19 but made significant strides this season, doing so behind senior Ashley Goodliffe (13G, 3A, 29P), who demonstrated her ability to get the ball in the net whether it was forwards, backwards, on the ground, or in the air, the All-Section senior figured it out for the Bears.
“With limited time to prepare for games, our varsity and JV teams came ready to work hard to improve their skills and build a bond with their teammates,” Bears Coach Jennifer Hershman said. “All of our field hockey players showed tremendous effort to play their best for themselves and their teammates. The Brewster girls demonstrated adaptability, teamwork, perseverance, and impressive field hockey skills. To be able to step on the field together, we were determined to ensure that each day had a purpose.”
All-Section HM honors went to Nora Tuohy and Elizabeth Kulo while Kate Vaughan, Eva Cucinell and Emily Monaco were selected All-League, with Isabella Grana and Grace O’Gorman getting HM.
WHITE PLAINS, the No.4 seed in the Southern Westchester large school tourney, was eliminated by. No.1 Mamaroneck, 2-0, after a strong regular season. Cornell-bound F Alexa Donahoe secured a second All-NYS honor for the Tigers, cementing one of the finest careers in school history. Tiger CM Sophia Emmert was named All-Section HM while F Julia Hricay and G Meaghan Furry were named All-League for a Tiger outfit that improved immensely over the course of the season.
PLEASANTVILLE the No.5 seed, was eliminated in a 1-0 loss to No.4 Hastings in the opening round of the Southern Westchester small school regional despite a great effort from All-League junior Panther G Izzy Baxter (15 saves), who finished with 106 saves in 12 games and had an 80% save percentage. The Panthers’ top scorers were All-League junior F Ryan Sullivan (9G, 2A, 20P), and All-Section HM junior M Caitlin Rubsamem (5G, 3A, 13P) and junior F Maeve McCourtney (2G, 3A).
“Our seniors, Meaghan Ennis, Christina Skrzypczak, Maribel Seixas and Meghan Sullivan, were great leaders throughout the season and took a year like no other and made it fun,” P’Ville Coach Kristen Coffey said. “Given the fact that we had a very short preseason and no scrimmages, it took us some time to find the right formation and positions for everyone, but never once did anyone complain. The girls were just happy to be with one another and play the sport they love. I am very proud of all of them and what we accomplished in a short, demanding period of time.”
No.6 VALHALLA was eliminated by No.3 Irvington in the opening round of playoffs, but saw Corinne Halbauer, Ava De Natale and Kathryn Wofthal all earn an All-League nod despite an opening-round loss to Irvington.
No.7 BYRAM HILLS was knocked off in the opening round of the playoffs, 9-0, by North Salem but All-Leaguers Zoe Banko and Irene Byrnes received postseason accolades.
No.3 CROTON’s Madison Archer, Izzy Poplizio and Lyndsey Delasho along with BRIARCLIFF’s Maeve Donoghue and Gianna Galiana were named All-League.