Lakeland shuts down West Milford to win Passaic County title by Kevin Czerwinski special to The Record
WAYNE – The Lakeland field hockey team has been a defensive-minded group throughout this season, so it wasn’t all that surprising that its aggressive midfield and back line was on display yet again Saturday afternoon.
The top-seeded Lancers, who had allowed only five goals in 12 previous games this season, shut down second-seeded and two-time defending champ West Milford 1-0 at Wayne Hills High School to capture their first Passaic County title (second overall) since 2012. The Highlanders topped Lakeland 1-0 to win last year’s crown.
Senior Alex Barna’s goal with 1:07 left in the first half was the difference, but it was the play of the defense led by senior Ashley Davison and junior Izabella Peralta that made the biggest difference. West Milford (10-4) managed only three shots on goal and forced only three corners, failing to establish any consistent offensive flow. It was Lakeland’s 10th shutout of the season.
“We had a strong defense today and we just never stopped,” Lakeland coach Patty Kebrdle said. “We have taken pride in our defense all year. I am a defensive-minded coach and we haven’t let anyone score more than two goals all year.”
It appeared as if the Lancers would experience a repeat of last season’s title game at one point, though, when Davison came off the field with what looked like might be a broken hand after getting hit with an errant ball midway through the first period. The trainers cleared her though and she re-entered the game, anchoring the defense along with Peralta.
Peralta, a defensive whiz, suffered a leg injury late in overtime during last season’s title game and the Highlanders were able to take advantage.
“Lakeland played a great game and we didn’t come out like the West Milford team we have been all season,” Highlanders’ coach Krista Provost said. “They wanted it from start to the end and that was obvious with the final score. Their defense was strong and we had a hard time breaking through.
“We had a nice two-year stretch. Now we have to look to fix some things and get back at it.”
The only losses Lakeland (10-2-1) has suffered this season were to Northern Highlands and Ramsey, each of whom scored a pair of goals. Northern Highlands and the Rams will play for the Bergen County title on Oct. 21.
“Last year was such a sour loss,” said Barna, who scored her eighth goal of the season and will be playing for Ramapo College next year. “This year makes up for it. I think losing last year made this so much better for us.
“You just have to shoot the ball when you get in the circle, especially in a game like this. You have to take the shot when it’s there.”