BREWSTER – The scoreboard clock at the Class B sectional final was draining on a damp night, 10 minutes to go, 8 minutes to go, 5 minutes to go in the second half. The Lakeland field hockey dynasty appeared in danger of crumbling at the capable hands and sticks of Rye High, still trailing by a goal.
But Brianna Muniz refused to sweat over it in the crisp air. The right forward for the five-time defending state champion Hornets said: “It was no fear. I was confident in myself and my team that we were going to pull it out.”
She personally saw to it. Muniz tied it with 4:38 left in regulation. And then there she was in 7-on-7, 10-minute, sudden-death double overtime, streaking in from the right side and scoring just 1:48 before the teams would have had to go to a shootout.
Make it six straight sectional titles for the nation’s second-ranked team. The dynasty lives. Top-seeded, undefeated Lakeland edged third-seeded Rye 3-2 Thursday in a rematch of last year’s final.
“It’s really exciting to win six in a row,” Muniz said.
The Hornets are up to 19-0 and can now start taking aim at six straight state titles, beginning Sunday at 3 in the regional final against Section 9 champ Rondout Valley at the Hudson Valley Sportsdome in Milton.
“Some people think it’s easy because of the past, but it’s never easy to win a section championship,” coach Sharon Sarsen said. “So we’re thrilled.”
Both goalies stood out in this airtight final, played in mist and rain until early in the second half.
“There’s a good bit of pressure,” said Lakeland senior Alex Halpin, who made eight saves. “You try to do everything possible to not let that ball in.”
Senior Brenna Smith made 13 saves for the 13-3-3 Garnets, including a great sliding stop a little more than a minute before the winning goal.
“I just told her what a way to end her field hockey career,” coach Emily Murphy said. “She played unbelievable.”
But Smith couldn’t stop Muniz in double OT after the junior got within about 5 yards of the goal.
“She has such great speed,” Sarsen said. “They had speed defensively. So literally 30 seconds before that, I had Molly (Fitzpatrick) and her switch. So Bree went to an up forward and she got the breakaway and put it in.”
Muniz had tied it at 2-2 after starting and finishing a corner play, getting the last poke at the ball, leaving it right on the line. The officials met and declared it a goal.
“It was nerve-racking to watch the refs discuss it,” Muniz said.
Abby Abate gave Rye a 1-0 lead about seven minutes into the game. Fitzpatrick tied it nearly eight minutes later off a corner. But Fusine Govaert untied it for the Garnets with 10:35 to go until the intermission.
“From the first whistle, this team gave it their all and played with so much heart, determination and hustle,” Murphy said. “I couldn’t be more proud of any team I ever coached.”
Lakeland defeated Rye 3-2 in double overtime to win the Section 1 Class B field hockey championship at Brewster High School Nov. 6, 2014.