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Lakeland Wins 4th Straight Sectional Field Hockey Title

Lakeland defeated Rye, 5-0, in the Section 1 Class B field hockey final Thursday in Mamaroneck. It was Lakeland's fourth consecutive sectional title. Photo Credit: Tony Pinciaro
Lakeland captains, from left, Kristen Conroy, Rebecca Bard and Gianna Bensaia combined for two goals and two assists in their team's 5-0 win over Rye in the Section 1 Class B field hockey final Thursday. Photo Credit: Tony Pinciaro

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Coming into the 2012 Section 1 high school field hockey season, the Lakeland Hornets were well-aware that teams would underestimate them because of their recent graduating class.

Senior Kristen Conroy and fellow captains Gianna Bensaia and Rebecca Bard wanted to continue their sectional title run and show why Lakeland is the elite team in Class B.

Bard and Bensaia scored goals Thursday and Conroy had two assists, as the top-seeded Hornets defeated second-seeded Rye, 5-0, in the Section 1 Class B Field Hockey Championship final at Mamaroneck High School.

Lakeland, now 18-1, won its fourth consecutive Class B title. It won the Class A crowns in 2003, ’06 and ’07. The Hornets will host Section 9 titlist Rondout Valley in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association regional semifinal at 4 p.m. Saturday. The winner moves into the regional final against Burnt Hills (Section 2) at Schuylerville High School on Monday.

“Last year’s senior class helped us so much, and we learned so much from them,” Bensaia said. “Even though they graduated, we wanted to show them what we learned from them, and we wanted to keep it going. This year it’s much more rewarding.”

Conroy, who along with Bensaia has been on varsity since their freshman year, savored the moment once the game concluded.

“I never thought that all four years on varsity that we would be sectional champs,” Conroy said. “This is special.”

Conroy said that a week after winning their third consecutive state championship last year, the Hornets started planning for 2012.

“A week after winning states last year, we started preparing for this year,” Conroy said. “We worked together, as a team, all winter and all summer.”

Lakeland and Rye were scoreless through the game’s first 27 minutes before Steph Scala converted a penalty corner, assisted by Conroy. Lakeland, which went into halftime scoreless with Rye in the 2011 sectional final, came out firing in the second half. Four of Lakeland’s five goals came on penalty corners.

“When it was 0-0, I was thinking it was exactly like last year’s game,” Conroy said. “Once Steph scored her goal, our intensity went up. We wanted to keep it up in the second half.”

Bard, at 1:20, and Abby Murdock, assisted by Conroy at 1:55, increased Lakeland’s lead to 3-0 in the second half.

“We were working so well together, in all parts of the field, and everyone just wanted it so much,” Bensaia said.

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