Traditionally, lacrosse is the kind of sport that entire families play. If one brother or sister picks up the sport, the rest of the siblings seem destined for the same fate. As luck would have it, all three local teams playing in the state semifinals have at least a pair of sisters. Below is my story:
Delaney Spencer has plenty of memories from her time spent as a two-sport athlete at John Jay. This year’s lacrosse team, two wins away from a state championship, has provided many for the senior.
One of Spencer’s fondest memories, though, took place prior to any of this season’s games.
The Spencer household was a tense place this spring before the girls lacrosse team roster was released. Spencer was hoping her freshmen twin sisters, Tierney and Hailey, would be joining her on varsity after having played on John Jay’s varsity basketball team together.
Unable to deal with the stress of waiting, Spencer left the house to go out to eat. That night she’d get a phone call from her sisters.
“In the background you just heard everyone screaming, jumping up and down, saying how we get one more season together,” Spencer said. “It was really funny. I’ll never forget that phone call.”
The Spencer sisters are one of the six sets of siblings among the three local girls lacrosse teams playing in the state semifinals Friday at SUNY Cortland.
“I think it’s great we get to make the memories together this year,” said Putnam Valley junior Samantha Cunningham of playing with her sister, Jacqueline, a sophomore. “It’ll be cool to look back on that and tell our kids, who will hopefully play the same sport, that we did it together.”
John Jay senior Molly O’Reilly said the fact her sister, Hannah, has played such a big role in the team’s success this season as a sophomore is a point of pride for her.
“She has been such a huge defensive and midfield impact this year,” O’Reilly said. “I really can’t see our team functioning without her.”
For others, just being able to share a great season with someone they’ve grown up with is a bonus.
“I never thought she would get pulled up this soon, so it’s really nice to go through this with her and experience it,” said Suffern freshman Jordan Drab, whose sister Reilly, a seventh grader, was promoted to varsity for the start of sectionals.
While Samantha Cunningham said she could see how playing with a sibling might not work well, the relationship she has with her sister, along with the bonds shared between teammates and sisters Mel and Stephanie Wagner and Erin and Kelsey McCrudden, has helped the Tigers get where they are today.
“It’s such an advantage for our team,” Cunningham said. “To have that same connection between three pairs of sisters. It only made us stronger.”
Family ties run deeper than just sisters on the teams. The Drabs’ father, Mike, is a Suffern assistant coach, along with Eddie Cheeseman, whose daughter, Mikaila, is the Mounties’ goalie. Putnam Valley head coach Kurt Worell and assistant Kristie Worell are married.
“As the season started, I wasn’t so sure I was going to like having him as my coach, because it was definitely going to be a lot different” Mikaila Cheeseman said. “With the season coming to an end, I’m really thankful that he go the opportunity to be my coach. It definitely helped me out a lot.”