PURCHASE — Hackley’s Dom Alpuche will graduate on June 8, along with eight of her girls lacrosse teammates.
Two weeks before they don a cap and gown, the seniors had a different kind of graduation. This one came in the form of a 15-13 win over Long Island Lutheran in the New York State Association of Independent Schools championship game Wednesday at Manhattanville College, the Hornets’ second straight state title.
The game was the last time the nine seniors would wear a Hornets jersey, something that has been a huge part of their lives during their four years at Hackley.
“(The seniors) play a lot of sports, and we’re really committed to this school,” said Alpuche, who scored five goals in the win. “I think, no matter who you ask, Hackley sports, especially girls sports, means so much to us.”
The Hornets seemed in good position to win their sixth NYSAIS title in program history after opening the second half with four straight goals to take a 13-5 advantage.
“I think we were pulling it out more and just slowing it down,” said Hornets junior Stefanie Frolo, who scored three goals and an assist, of what was working well for Hackley at the start of the half. “Looking for smarter passes instead of forcing it through.”
In less than four minutes Lutheran was able to score five straight goals to cut the Hornets’ lead to three with nine minutes remaining. Hackley coach Jenny Leffler said her team has a tendency to play frantic at times.
“This team has such high expectations for themselves that even when we’re up by five or six goals they’re playing as if they’re down by five or six goals,” Leffler said.
Goals by Frolo and senior Katie Gallop ended Lutheran’s run and pushed Hackley’s lead up to five with less than five minutes remaining.
“We needed to compose ourselves a little,” said Gallop, who finished with two goals and an assist. “Just keep playing our game.”
The Crusaders answered back with three straight goals to make it a two-goal game. The Hornets were able to win the ensuing draw and kill the final minute to win their second straight state title.
Winning back-to-back state championships was on the mind of the girls long before the start of the 2013 season.
“From the second we won it last year we wanted it again this year,” Alpuche said. “I think every single girl, whether they were on the team last year or not, knew how important this season was. To come out and do a repeat was amazing.”
While Alpuche and the rest seniors will move on, it’s clear the mindset of the program won’t change.
“It feels amazing,” Frolo said. “We definitely want to win another one next year.”
Photo courtesy of Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.