MAMARONECK As Suffern girls lacrosse coach John Callanan spoke about the Mounties’ 9-4 win over North Rockland in the Class A sectional final Friday, he started to tear up.
For Callanan, the victory wasn’t just for the 2013 team, but every Suffern squad that has fallen short of a sectional title since its last in 2005. In the eight seasons since their last title, the Mounties have lost in the finals four times.
“All the hard work they put in over the years,” Callanan said, “it’s for them.”
The current Mounties players were happy to finally bring the program back to the top of Class A in the section after so many disappointing finishes.
“We’ve been waiting for this since 2005 really,” said Suffern sophomore Caitlin Leary, who led the Mounties with three goals. “We broke the curse, and we’re just happy that we’ve won.”
Suffern will play Section 2’s Guilderland in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Fox Lane.
Several Suffern alumnae were in the stands to cheer on their alma mater.
“To have them come out and root for us is amazing,” Leary said. “Even though they didn’t get what they wanted, but they are rooting for us.”
After each team scored a goal in the first four minutes, Suffern reeled off three straight goals to take a 4-1 lead with 12:17 remaining.
The Mounties were able to maintain possession for almost the entire remainder of the half after Suffern goalie Mikaila Cheeseman held the ball for nearly 10 minutes in her own end after a save. There is no rule against stalling and no North Rockland player challenged her, choosing to stay in their own end to defend.
Taking a three-goal lead into halftime was important for Callanan, who was worried the rain would impede his team.
“We’re a team that relies on speed and stick work, and a lot of that is neutralized on a day like this,” Callanan said. “I really thought we were going to have some problems with being able to execute some of the stuff we normally would try to. To the girls’ credit they were able to execute despite it.”
The Mounties went on a 3-1 run to open the second half to build a 7-2 lead with 16 minutes left. Suffern maintained a five-goal lead with strong play at the draw circle and smart, sustained possessions.
Callanan was pleased with his team’s ability to show poise and patience on such a big stage despite its youth. Suffern has two juniors and no seniors on its roster.
“We’ve learned a lot this season,” Leary said. “We’ve learned how to play our game the way we want to.”
With the entire team returning next season the future looks bright for the young Mounties.
“I’m looking forward to all the years ahead with these girls,” Leary said. “We have the same team for the next three years, so it’s awesome.”