RYE – There was a lot of pressure on Lakeland coming into Thursday’s game against archrival Rye.
In a sense, there always is.
Blame those records: No losses since 2012. No losses to a New York opponent since 2010.
The captain of the ship for all those wins has been Sharon Sarsen. She’s in her 35th year and has guided the Hornets to 10 state championships, including seven in the last seven years.
As she stood on the sideline Thursday, she wore a gold 500 around her neck. That marks her 500th win, which occurred in 2012 against Somers.
It’s time for Sarsen to get new jewelry.
Lakeland recorded its fourth win of the season Thursday, beating Rye 3-1.
The win was Sarsen’s 579th, a record for field hockey coaches in New York. The victory broke a tie with the late Nancy Jean Cole, who coached at Centereach and Ward Melville over a 35-year career.
“There’s really no one like her,” said Lakeland senior Mia Lennon, a four-year varsity player. “I can’t say what her secret is. She just knows so much about the game and she’s pushing us to be better players and better people.”
Postgame, Sarsen, who played for John Jay-Cross River (Class of ’78) before playing both field hockey and lacrosse for SUNY-Cortland, held a huge bouquet of flowers that came from her team. She noted it wasn’t until she received a text Thursday morning that she knew she was on the brink of setting the state record.
What do 579 wins mean?
“I know I’ve done it a long time and hopefully what I’ve done works,” Sarsen said, understating things a bit.
What she did certainly worked Thursday.
Rye, which fell to Lakeland in last year’s Section 1 Class B final, came out fired up and dominated time of possession for the first couple of minutes.
Then Lakeland, which finished the game with a 14-2 lead in penalty corners, took over.
Player of the game: With 24:36 left in the first half, Meghan Fahey scored her first of two goals unassisted, burying a rebound off Rye goalie Maggie Devlin, who had a tremendous game that included 14 saves.
Turning point: Devlin, who subsequently had an absolute gem of a save off a Kelsey McCrudden rocket, got burned by another rebound with 4:18 left in the half, as Julianna Cappello beat the Garnets’ D to the carom to score.
Stat line: Fahey’s second goal came with 25:31 left in the second half on a breakaway off a McCrudden feed.
Rye got on the board down a player to a five-minute penalty when Kelly Ott fed Faith Bennett, who beat Lakeland netminder Cassie Halpin (one save) low to her left.
Quotables: Rye defenseman Lotje Rogaar, who had a very strong game, said despite losing 13 players to graduation from last year’s team, she thinks Rye is very close to Lakeland’s level.
“We are going to improve so much and grow together as a team,” she said. “I’m happy with this game. I thought we played really well and really showed everyone who we are as a team.”
Rye coach Simon Hochstenbach – and Rye’s players and fans – wasn’t happy with some second-half calls and non-calls, including two five-minute penalties assessed against the Garnets. But Hochstenbach said, “We didn’t lose actually lose because of the officiating.”
He said, playing rival Lakeland, there was “more stress and our new girls were excited” and they “weren’t themselves” in the first half.
“Next time, that will probably drop off their shoulders,” he said.