There was no lack of inspiration for Kaitlyn Rau during her first three seasons on North Rockland’s girls lacrosse team.
Rau’s first year on varsity as an eighth-grader in 2010 gave her the chance to see then-junior Taylor Moore leave her mark on North Rockland’s program.
Moore scored 81 goals to break the school’s single-season goals record en route to becoming the fifth North Rockland player to earn all-American honors.
Two years later Rau saw Tara Monaghan break Moore’s record, notching 82 goals and earning all-American honors as a senior in 2012.
Playing with two of the best players to come through North Rockland’s program gave Rau an example of how to approach the game.
“How they carry themselves, and how they play,” said Rau of Moore and Monaghan “They are definitely role models.”
Monaghan’s graduation last year was a chance for Rau to become the team’s top playmaker, a role she embraced. The junior finished with 76 goals and 27 assists, both team highs. She currently sits second all-time in points (295) and goals (234) in school history. Rau also earned all-American honors, following in the footsteps of two of her idols.
“I always looked up to Taylor and Tara,” said Rau, The Journal News/lohud.com Rockland County Player of the Year. “I always wanted to be like them and become an all-American.”
The season was no cakewalk for Rau. Opposing defenses often chose to faceguard her, making it difficult to even touch the ball, let alone score. Still, Rau registered at least a goal in every game and always seemed to find a way to help her team as it reached the Class A sectional final.
“If the goals aren’t coming she’ll get draw controls; if she’s having trouble getting draw controls she’ll get ground balls,” North Rockland coach Greg Borchers said. “She finds her way onto that score sheet on a daily basis.”
Getting faceguarded pushed Rau to work harder to get the ball as opposed to frustrating her. She even transitioned to midfield, after having played mostly attack her first three years, for more opportunities to get the ball off draws and clears.
“I encouraged her to challenge herself to play more defense, not just for us, but when she goes to college,” said Borchers of Rau, who is committed to Villanova. “She’s more versatile if she can play more midfield in college rather than just playing attack.”
Rau’s ability to quickly pick up defense is an example of her continued growth as a player during her four seasons at North Rockland.
“Every year she comes in that much better,” Borchers said. “We challenge her to be better, and she’s never let us down yet.”
Next season will be a chance for Rau to forever leave her mark on the Red Raiders’ program. She sits six points behind North Rockland’s all-time points records of 301 held by Brianna Warner and eight goals shy of the school’s all-time goals mark of 242 owned by Moore. Rau, who posted eight goals this season in a win against Clarkstown North, has her eye on the school’s single-game goals record of 10 held by Moore as well.
Rau also has a chance to be the first two-time all-American field player in North Rockland history (goalie Anna Berman was an all-American in 2009 and ’10).
For Rau, all the individual accolades in the world won’t make up for not succeeding as a team, though.
“She wants to win another sectional title,” Borchers said. “She wants to win a sectional title as a senior. I think that’s going to drive her more than scoring any more goals and getting any more assists.”
The rest of the first team:
Mikaila Cheeseman (Suffern): The freshman goalie, playing in her first season on varsity, finished with a .56 save percentage as the Mounties reached the state semifinals. Cheeseman averaged 5.2 saves per game.
Kelly Dowd (North Rockland): The senior captain was impressive on both sides of the ball for the Red Raiders at the midfield. Dowd, who is headed to Queens University (N.C.) in the fall, finished with 30 goals and seven assists and led North Rockland in draw controls.
Katie Fischer (Nyack): The midfielder, who is committed to Denver, tallied 49 goals and 11 assists this season. Fischer, who served as a captain this season as a junior, proved to be versatile, winning 52 draws and scooping 26 ground balls.
Madison Kandoth (Albertus Magnus): The junior midfielder was the focal point of the Falcons’ Cinderella-run to the Class C sectional championship as a 13 seed, averaging three goals a game in the playoffs. Kandoth finished the season with 53 goals, 40 draw controls and 25 ground balls.
Erin Kelly (Clarkstown South): Kelly was one of the top defensive midfielders in the section, drawing the opposing team’s biggest offensive threat most games. The sophomore was also extremely efficient at burying her chances, notching 41 goals with a .672 shot percentage, and tallying 16 assists.
Caitlin Leary (Suffern): The sophomore attacker was one of the best dodgers from the wing in the section, tallying 65 goals and 11 assists. A 2013 all-American, Leary also scooped 22 ground balls and had 15 draw controls.
Carlee Lopez (Suffern): In her third year on varsity the sophomore defender helped the Mounties maintain a 7.8 goals-against average. Lopez was Suffern’s biggest communicator on defense and played a crucial role in the Mounties’ clearing game.
Baley Parrott (Suffern): The sophomore midfielder led the Mounties with 86 points (47 goals, 39 assists). Parrott was also second on Suffern in draw controls with 44 and was an all-American selection.
Jeanie Peluso (North Rockland): The attacker/midfielder has fought injuries during her four years with the Red Raiders. Peluso, a team captain, finished with 29 goals and 16 assists in her first full season since her freshman year.
Regina Sharp (Suffern): The sophomore’s tallied 49 points (36 goals, 13 assists) from the midfield for the Mounties. Sharp led Suffern in ground balls with 29 and had 43 draw controls.
Nikole Sullivan (Tappan Zee): The midfielder, who will play at the University of Scranton in the fall, posted 25 goals and 11 assists. However, the 97 ground balls the senior captain scooped is the statistic that best exemplifies her strong work ethic.
Coach of the year
John Callanan (Suffern): Callanan guided a Mounties squad that had no seniors and only two juniors to the program’s first sectional title since 2005. Suffern came up just shy, falling to Section 3’s Baldwinsville 9-8 in the state semifinals, of playing for a state title.
Mikaela Connell (Albertus Magnus), Jr.
Dana Gisonno (Suffern), So.
Jordan Drab (Suffern), Fr.
Lauren Gruffi (Albertus Magnus), Sr.
Angela Kelly (North Rockland), Jr.
Janie Lachman (Clarkstown North), Jr.
Tonianne Magnelli (Suffern), So.
Lauren Mazza (North Rockland), Jr.
Amy McNally (Suffern), So.
Ashley Mezzacappa (Tappan Zee), Sr.
Jaime Morris (Clarkstown South), Jr.
Taylor O’Sullivan (Nyack), Jr.
Honorable mention: Shannon Booth (Nanuet), Sr.; Alyssa Conklin (Suffern), Fr.; Caroline Dolan (Pearl River) So.; Heather Durkin (Albertus Magnus), Jr.; Jennifer Farrell (Nyack), So.; Jackie Fitzgerald (Nanuet), Jr.; Jenna Fox (North Rockland), Fr.; Shayne Gallagher (Tappan Zee), Sr.; Kelly Guerci (Pearl River), Sr.; Kaitlyn Gutenberger (North Rockland), Fr.; Christina Hanos (Clarkstown South), Fr.; Carmella Liscio (Tappan Zee), 8th.; Brianna McCleary (Tappan Zee) So.; Danielle McIvor (Clarkstown South), So.; Kerry Mulcahy (Albertus Magnus), Sr.; Kerri O’Rourke (Tappan Zee), So.; Dana O’Sullivan (Albertus Magnus), Sr.; Angela Rendina (Pearl River), So.; Shannon Salemo (Nyack), So.; Alissa Silvestri (Clarkstown North), Jr.; Carolyn Spatta (North Rockland) So.; Jesenia Tejhada (Nanuet) Jr.; Delia White (Pearl River), Sr.; Kiera Young (Nanuet) So.