SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Rebecca Bard of Lakeland High School, whose three-time defending state field hockey champions make their fourth trip to the Class B final four Saturday, savored every moment of the first journey.
“It was an unbelievable feeling my freshman year, and I didn’t think we were going to make it back the next year,” Bard said.
But for Bard and fellow Lakeland classmates and captains Gianna Bensaia and Kristen Conroy, going to the final four has become an annual November outing.
The defending champions return to Cicero-North Syracuse High School Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for a semifinal face off against Section 4 champ Maine-Endwell. Miller Place (Section 8) will face Pittsford Sutherland in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m. The winners play for the title at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“Once you make it here you remember what it feels like to be at the top level of state play," Bard said. "I feel so lucky every day. Being here for a fourth state final four is a perfect way to end my high school career.”
Lakeland is the first Section 1 field hockey team to win three consecutive state titles. The Hornets will be looking to make history: No other school has won four consecutive state titles. Marathon and Greene, both of Section 4, have also won three straight.
Even though Lakeland is 20-1 on the season and back at the final four, Bard said she and her teammates began the year grounded.
“When the season started, we were taking it one day at a time and viewing it as one step at a time,” Bard said. “We don’t look past anything. During sectionals, there were people talking to us about states, but we didn’t want to talk about it and think into the future.”
A victory will send the Hornets against a new opponent in the final. The last three years, Lakeland has beaten Garden City (Section 8) for the title. Saturday's game is Lakeland's seventh final-four appearance since 2003.
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