John Jay’s Sarah Lang knew what was at stake as she took the field in this year’s Class B girls lacrosse sectional final against Yorktown.
The senior captain understood what a win against the Indians’ biggest rival meant. In Lang’s four years on varsity the Huskers were 7-1 against John Jay.
In fact, since the Indians’ last sectional final appearance in 2005, John Jay had been knocked out of the playoffs four times by the Huskers. Lang’s sisters, Kirstin and Hannah, both had seasons come to an end at the hands of Yorktown.
All of this, in addition to the fact the Indians were nearly two decades removed from their last sectional title, meant there was pressure for Lang, the team’s leading scorer, to perform.
Not that it bothered her.
“I kind of like pressure,” said Lang, The Journal News/lohud.com Westchester/Putnam Player of the Year. “I think it adds to it. I think when you have a little something on your back, it kind of pushes you to a limit where you don’t think you can go.”
Lang was dominant at the draw circle and posted a team-high five points to secure a 12-10 win and the second sectional title in program history.
For Lang, who has played on varsity since she was a freshman in three different sports, the win was her most memorable athletic achievement at John Jay.
“Just to beat Yorktown in the sectional final was the greatest satisfaction,” Lang said. “It was one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
Lang’s performance in the final wasn’t an outlier. The attacker was one of the most consistent playmakers in Section 1 this season, registering a goal in all but one game and posting at least three points in all but three games. Lang, who will play at the University of Vermont in the fall, finished with 78 goals and 40 assists as she led John Jay to the state semifinals.
“She really has a great shot,” John Jay coach Christina Smith said. “She’s probably one of the best shooters in Section 1. She’s really precise, accurate and powerful.”
It was on the big stageswhereLang truly proved how vital she could be.
Less than a week after the sectional final, Lang led the Indians with nine points (eight goals, one assist) as John Jay overcame a four-goal halftime deficit to beat Section 2’s Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 19-14 in the regional semifinals.
Lang said the success of this year’s Indians’ squad was due to the contributions of several different players as opposed to one star. Seniors Molly O’Reilly (49 goals, 45 assists) and Delaney Spencer (49 goals, 36 assists) put up equally strong numbers.
“This year, especially, was a year where we worked together and had multiple threats,” Lang said. “That was a big factor.”
Lang’s biggest strength might not have even been her offensive production, but her ability to communicate. Smith said the amount of respect Lang commanded from her teammates allowed her to set up the offense and relay defense assignments from the restraining line.
“(Lang) has great leadership on the field,” Smith said. “A lot of the younger girls definitely looked up to her.”
With so many underclassmen playing big roles on John Jay’s team this season, Lang prided herself on her ability to keep the younger players calm, even in the biggest situations.
After all, if anyone knows how to deal with pressure, it’s Lang.
“I think the most important thing in sports is playing with your head, to be smart,” Lang said. “I think a lot of my leadership kept everyone level-headed and relaxed.”
The rest of the first team:
Gabriella Anderson (Mahopac): The Indians’ senior goalie made 181 saves and had a 9.33 goals-against average. The four-year starter, who will play at Springfield College in the fall, became the program’s first all-American this season.
Alina Atayan (Bronxville): Atayan, a midfielder/defender, did it all for the Broncos, finishing with 40 goals, 14 assists, a team-high 29 ground balls and 63 draw controls. The senior will play at Marquette in the fall.
Emily Concialdi (Yorktown): The sophomore midfielder was a key component of Yorktown’s run to the Class B sectional final. Her 50 goals, a team-high, and seven assists earned her all-American honors.
Molly Fitzpatrick (Lakeland/Panas): The sophomore midfielder had big shoes to fill with the loss of three all-Americans from the Rebels’ 2012 squad. She stepped up, finishing with a team-high 78 goals and 18 assists.
Erin McCrudden (Putnam Valley): The senior midfielder was the heartbeat of the Class C section champions. McCrudden, who will play field hockey at Louisville in the fall, led the team in goals (64) and assists (46) in addition to taking a majority of the draws.
Emalee Mongno (Yorktown): Mongno had a breakout junior year, posting 41 goals and 16 assists from the midfield. The junior, who is committed to Ohio State, was one of two Huskers to earn all-American honors this season.
Kristen Ohberg (Brewster): Ohberg was the Bears’ top playmaker, tallying with 65 goals and 19 assists. The senior midfielder, who earned all-American honors this season, will play at SUNY Cortland in the fall.
Molly O’Reilly (John Jay): The senior attacker earned all-American honors en route to helping the Indians to the state semifinals. Despite missing the first fives games, O’Reilly, who will play at the University of Connecticut in the fall, posted a balanced 49 goals and 45 assists.
Lindsey Repp (Scarsdale): The junior midfielder’s 72 goals, 33 assists and 93 draw controls helped the Raiders reach the Class A sectional semifinals after moving up a class. Repp, a 2013 all-American who is committed to Brown, also scooped 47 ground balls and caused 15 turnovers.
Emma Schurr (Somers): Schurr had 41 goals and 34 assists from the midfield as she helped the Tuskers reach the Class B sectional semifinal for the first time in program history. An all-American this season, Schurr is committed to Boston College.
Delaney Spencer (John Jay): The senior midfielder/defender finished 2013 with 49 goals and 36 assists as she played a crucial role in the Indians’ run to the state semifinals. Equally important was her strong defensive play, making her a two-way threat.
Coach of the year
Kurt Worell (Putnam Valley): In his second year as the head coach, Worell, along with assistant coaches Kristie Worell and Megan Connelly, led the Class C Tigers to their first section championship and trip to the state semifinals in program history.
Gaby Berne (Yorktown), Sr.
Kate Burbank (Fox Lane), Sr.
Laurel Cassidy (Hackley), Jr.
Bianca Dente (Yorktown), Jr.
Sam Karner (Mahopac), Sr.
Kate Leone (White Plains), Jr.
Molly Malone (Ossining), Sr.
Ciara Morley (Irvington), Sr.
Gretchen Richter (Bronxville), Jr.
Tara Schurr (Somers), Jr.
Charlotte Tucci (Rye), So.
Mel Wagner (Putnam Valley), Sr.
Honorable mention: Rebecca Bard (Lakeland/Panas), Sr.; Michaela Brown ( Ursuline) Sr.; Emily Byrne (Byram Hills), Sr.; Kristina Caridi (Valhalla), Sr.; Sam Cunningham (Putnam Valley), Jr.; Nicole DeMase (Somers), So.; Kelsey Fee (White Plains), Jr.; Hannah Fitzgerald (Mamaroneck), Sr.; Amanda Flayhan (John Jay), Sr.; Danielle Gervacio (Ossining), Sr.; Maura Grant (Horace Greeley), Sr.; Kim Harker (Mahopac), So.; Maria Howe (Pleasantville), Jr.; Lily Lleshaj (Brewster), Jr.; Amanda Makar (Yorktown), Sr.; Kendall Marianacci (Fox Lane), Sr.; Sydney Marks (Horace Greeley), Jr.; Angela Marriott (Hen Hud), Sr.; Julia Massaro (Rye Country Day), So.; Greta Massey (Mamaroneck), Jr.; Jesse Moore (Brewster), Sr.; Dannah Strauss (Scarsdale), Sr.; Gaby Susz (Edgemont), Sr.; Megan Sweeney (Somers), Sr.; Kiera Taussig (Mamaroneck), Sr.; Carly Wooters (Ursuline), Jr.