VALHALLA – They should be weaker. And with two ties this season after five seasons of only wins, some might have sensed vulnerability.
But while the Lakeland field hockey team still faces two potential roadblocks from claiming its eighth straight state title, Saturday it looked every bit a state champion.
The Hornets, winners of nine Section 1 Class A championships and eight consecutive Section 1 Class B championships, recorded an 8-0 Class B regional final win over Section 9 Red Hook. The result was never in doubt.
Lakeland will play Section 6 Iroquois Saturday at Maine-Endwell High School in the Class B semifinals. The finals will be held there the following day.
Before Saturday’s game, Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen said she didn’t know much about Red Hook.
And it wasn’t like Lakeland could have scouted the Raiders during the Section 9 playoffs. Red Hook, which fell in the regional final 5-0 to Lakeland in both 2009 and 2010, is the only Class B field hockey team in Section 9, so it had no playoffs.
But Lakeland looked like it had seen plenty of Raider games.
“It’s amazing,” Lakeland’s Kelsey McCrudden said of her team’s offensive resurgence.
A big part were penalty corners, with Lakeland netting seven of its goals off its 31 corners.
“Corners have been a big issue for us. Now we’re finally putting them on cage and putting them in the goal,” senior forward Meghan Fahey said.
McCrudden and Fahey each had two goals – not a bad day for Fahey, who was home sick for a good portion of the week.
“I was out of school all week. I’m a little tired but I’m ready for next weekend. I hadn’t moved from bed for a couple of days. It’s a great day to be back,” she said.
The Hornets appear to have recovered from losing five all-state players to graduation.
“At the beginning of the season a section title was a really big goal for us,” Fahey said. “Now with what we’ve accomplished as a team we’re looking amazing. From the way we started the beginning of the season, we’ve had a big improvement.”
Player of the game: The still-not-100-percent Fahey, who also had two assists to go along with her two goals.
Stat line: Besieged goaltender Julia Shaffrick had 19 saves and Chloe Smith had one for Red Hook.
Cali Cortese, McCrudden and Fahey each had two goals for Lakeland, while Mia Lennon and Julia Wanamaker each had one.
Quotables: “I’m so excited,” Cortese said. “I can’t wait to see the big challenge in front of us. I know we’re good enough tot take it on. We just need to continue with our corners and get our shots off and I think we’ll be reay.
McCrudden indicated winning another regional title still resonated with her.
“It stays just as great,” she said.