|Waiting for Hill to Break Loose|
|Tuesday, 03 April 2012 20:41|
BY CHUCK SLATER
Sarson, directing girls field hockey and lacrosse teams at Lakeland/Panas for years, is one of the very best coaches ever in Section 1. When her girls won the state field hockey championship this past fall, it was the sixth state crown her team had claimed in the sport. This is tops among high school team coaches in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.
Season-record-wise, she has been just as successful in lacrosse – except her teams have never won a state championship. Her lacrosse squads have won 10 section titles – the last five in a row, four regional crowns and four times have reached the final four of the state championships. Last spring, her 16-3-1 squad lost in the state semifinals.
Six seniors, four of them starters, graduated last June. But will the current edition of the Rebels be just as good, or perhaps just a tad better?
“I sure hope so,” Sarson said. “We have a very strong, committed senior class. Sometimes this late in their final term seniors have checked out, college on their minds. But this group, they are ready to go.”
And none of them is more ready to go than Chyna Hill, who is ready to go at a new position.
One of the biggest strengths of last spring’s L/P squad was its three special midfielders. But two of them, All Americans Anna Jeszeck and Melissa Hansen, picked up their caps, gowns and diplomas not long after post-season play.
So Sarson, who has a knack with position switches, asked Hill to move to midfield even though she had played her first two varsity seasons on defense and earned all-section recognition in that role last year.
And add to the mix the fact that Hill already has a lacrosse scholarship to Fresno State in California – to play defense.
“It’s exciting,” Hill said of both her Fresno State future and her current position change, from which she has delivered three goals and four assists in the Rebels’ first two games. “I’ll get to deliver the ball upfront more (as a midfielder) and also get to do more offense.
“But I want to keep my defense going. I can still play defense as a midfielder. It’s all a little nerve-wracking though.’ “I felt I needed more help in transition and chasing the ball,” Sarson said of the move. “Chyna has great speed and her stick is very good. She’s also very strong.”
Speedwise, Hill has been on a 4-by-800 sectional relay champion for Panas and has also run cross-country. But she calls lacrosse, which she was introduced to eight years ago, “my favorite sport.”
And midfield is new to her only on the varsity level. “I played midfield in club lacrosse and for the JV,” she said.
Another of the seniors Sarson raves about is Emma Bozek, a first-team All American on the recent field hockey champions. She is the returning midfield starter and was all-section in the role last season. She’s headed for North Carolina but is currently on a 10-day hiatus playing for the U.S. national under-21 team.
Bozek got the season off to a flying start, scoring six goals from her midfield position as the Rebels beat a tough John Jay-Cross River, 14-9. Hill had a goal and an assist. “I played a more defensive midfield,” she said. “It was OK for the first start.”
She is being modest. “The girls already look up to her. She makes good decisions,” said Bozek, who followed the opener with six assists in an 18-5 rout on Hen Hud.
Another of the stellar seniors, attack Alexa Bonnes, heads the offense and is headed for UConn. “She has an amazing split-dodge,” Sarson said, “and she’s very hard to defend. She’s also got a good, hard shot.
“Alexa had 58 goals last season and I’m looking for her to improve on that.”
Bonnes had three goals in the opener, then seven against Hen Hud.
Megan Bradbury is another senior and another strong attack. She had a trio of goals in the second game.
On defense is another stalwart senior and field hockey mainstay, Allie O’Mara. “Our defensive captain,” said the coach.
In goal is a first-time starter, junior Amelia Lopez, but the coach isn’t worried. “I feel very comfortable with her in goal,” Sarson said. Indeed, Lopez amassed 12 saves in each of the two opening games.
Sarson is also very comfortable with a talented and motivated bunch of seniors leading the quest for that elusive state title. It would be in her favorite sport – at least for the moment.
The veteran coach is frequently asked whether she prefers field hockey or lacrosse and the answer is invariably the same. “Whichever one is in season,” she says.