No.1 Greeley Holds off No.2 Carmel for Large School Regional
No.2 Lakeland Wins Small School Tourney, Hornets Crowned for 13th-Straight Year
By Rob DiAntonio & Ray Gallagher
It’s not a state title, but it’ll do during a season filled with so much uncertainty and doubt.
Top-seeded HORACE GREELEY, a state finalist in 2019, defeated third-seeded CARMEL 2-0 in the championship game of the Putnam-Northern Westchester large school regional tournament on Nov. 20.
Meanwhile, top-seeded LAKELAND, winners of 13 NYS titles and 10 of the last 11, posted a 6-0 win over visiting North Salem to lock down the Putnam-Northern Westchester small school regional tournament later that night.
The sectionals and state playoffs were cancelled this year due to concerns over COVID-19.
“This couldn’t have been a better opportunity given the circumstances,” Greeley senior Grace Arrese said of winning the regional title. “I think we’re just so grateful that we had the opportunity to even play this season. For most of us, it’s our last year. It was such an incredible feeling getting back out there, making it to the finals and winning it was just amazing for our last year.”
It was by no means an easy win for a typically dominant Greeley squad against a stingy and gritty Carmel team. The host Quakers had their chances in the first quarter but were able to break through twice in the second. Senior Nataile Laskowski passed ahead to fellow senior Lily Schoonmaker, who blasted it into the back of the net to put Greeley up 1-0 just a few minutes into the quarter.
Arrese, who will play both field hockey and lacrosse at Wesleyan, added a goal on a corner with 3:25 left in the first half. Caroline Flannery, another senior, found Arrese in the left corner on the set play.
Carmel had its share of opportunities throughout the game, but Greeley goalie Siena Jarrin (8 saves) and the rest of the defense rose to the occasion. The Rams’ best opportunity came early in the fourth quarter when they had three consecutive corners, but Jarrin denied them each time and halted Carmel’s momentum.
“That end line, the three inches to the right or left of that goal were not our friend today,” Carmel coach Aislinn Breslin said. “The bounces just weren’t there. But I’m proud of them, especially against a team like Horace Greeley, that they had so many opportunities. They’re happy with how they played so that’s all I can ask for.”
Arrese praised her goaltender for coming through in such a crucial moment.
“Siena just did an amazing job of getting the ball out of the circle,” Arrese said. “We did exactly what we’ve been doing in practice. Obviously, we got unlucky and they had a few consecutive corners. We just put in our all and put aside the fact that we were really tired and tried to get the ball out as fast as we could. I think the defenders did a really good job of getting it out.”
Jarrin, a senior, became the Quakers’ starting goalie as a sophomore after never playing the position before.
“My goalkeeper stepped up,” Greeley coach Suki Sandhu said. “They managed well, stepped up and all helped each other. They covered all of the middle and the top well.”
Carmel junior goaltender Julianna Marrone was impressive in her own right, keeping the Rams within striking distance with save after save against an aggressive Greeley offense. She finished with 15 saves.
“She’s a first-year varsity player and she’s the type that you can score 15 goals on her and she’s not going to stop,” Breslin said. “At the half, she was kind of like, ‘Coach, I missed a few shots there.’ So I sent her to talk to our younger goalie and she goes, ‘Coach, I’ve got this.’ She just gets in this mindset where she takes disappointment and turns it around into something completely positive and she was lights out in that second half.”
The win capped off a stellar career for Greeley’s 16 seniors. Ten of the Quakers’ 11 starters were seniors, so Sandhu naturally pointed to their experience as a big reason for their success.
“We have girls that have played a long time together that also play year-round,” said Sandhu, whose team finished the season with a 12-1 record, outscoring opponents 75-3 in their 13 games.
The Quakers reached the finals by blanking fourth-seeded MAHOPAC, 3-0, in the semis on Nov. 18. Laskowski tallied two goals while Flannery added one. The Indians had a solid campaign behind All-Section senior Krista Dietz and a solid group of seniors.
Carmel advanced to the finals by upsetting second-seeded John Jay-Cross River, 3-2. Senior Kylie Rosenquest, who will continue her career at Tufts, scored twice, and her sister Laila Rosenquest, a sophomore, added a goal. Marrone made four saves.
“They were persevering when the odds were stacked against them,” Breslin said. “They always believed that they were capable of whatever they could do. Even when they had a bad game, they said, ‘You know what? Today wasn’t our day. We move on and we work on it.’ They never stopped.”
The Rams finished their strong campaign with an 8-3-1 record, among the finest seasons in school history behind the Rosnequest sisters, among the finest to ever play for the program.
“At the beginning of the season, especially in August, I had girls saying, ‘Coach, are we playing? Are we playing?” Breslin said. “I said, ‘I don’t know. I hope so.’ That first day of practice they were just so grateful and so cautious. They were wearing their mask, staying six feet apart because of how badly they wanted to play. We only had three games cancelled all year. But just the fact that they got what they got, and this is where we ended up, it’s awesome.”
LAKELAND did what Lakeland does: it came out on top for the 13th consecutive season behind All-Section seniors Keirra Ettere (3G, 1A) and Emma Fon (2G, 1A), plus junior Mia Smith (1G) and Jaden Ray (1A). Senior D Kristen O’Shea (1A) returned after a two-month absence to lead a tight defense. The defending state champs finished 13-1 and allowed just one post-season goal and just six all season.
“As hard as this season has been for everyone, it was a Godsend,” said 39-year veteran Hornet Coach Sharon Sarsen. “The kids were grateful each and every day, constantly thanking the coaches and never complaining about anything. We, as coaches, agreed that this team was so very special. The seniors were fantastic leaders and followed the rules every day. They made it as easy if that was possible. Our seniors all contributed to our positive chemistry and outstanding team culture. There were 23 “really nice girls” with no drama ever. I never had to address attitude, ever! And these seniors were so special. They welcomed each and every player, despite their skill level or grade and made them a part of our team immediately. They were so thrilled everyday to play another day.”
“Our seniors all had excellent seasons; some starting for the first time in their careers; contributing off the bench or doing whatever the coaches had in store for them,” Sarsen added. “They were always engaged, enthusiastic and eager. I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend as much time with them as we were able. I told them we will have a great big party when this is all over. We are not settling for anything less.”
All teams should follow Lakeland’s lead and salute their players and programs with a feast to end all feasts when COVID-19 is finally in our rear view mirror.
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.
Visit Ray’s author bio page for more details. Also read Ray’s archived work here and his Direct Rays column here.