In only its second year of existence, Forest Hills captured its first PSAL girls lacrosse title Sunday, beating Brooklyn Tech, 8-3, in the Bowl Division final at Aviator Sports Complex.
And, as has been the case throughout the season, the hero was a ladybug.
“There were many games we could have easily lost if our ladybug didn’t save them,” senior Celeste Roman said. “We’re extremely happy to have her as a goalie.”
Ladybug is the nickname affectionately given to diminutive goalie Mariana Pastrana, whose eight saves, including five in a first half she pitched a shutout, helped secure the Rangers victory.
“She’s been amazing ever since last year,” Forest Hills coach Natalie Shimizu said. “She’s one of the best athletes. Even though she’s tiny and a lot of people take her granted, she did well. … Whenever we needed her, she’s always been there for us.”
Like the rest of her teammates, Pastrana had no lacrosse experience before joining the team a year ago. But the senior volunteered to step between the pipes and that’s made all the difference.
“She’s amazing,” Roman said. “She’s honestly the one who brought the team together. No one wanted to be goalie, but she stepped it up and she was amazing.”
Pastrana said she took what she learned from the Rangers second regular season meeting against Brooklyn Tech, an 8-7 victory on May 7 in which she made 20 saves, into Sunday’s final.
“During the previous game I knew how they were shooting and I was pretty confident that I’d be able to stop some,” she said. “They did shoot really hard, but the last game boosted up my confidence.”
While Pastrana, who battled despite a badly bruised left arm, was keeping second-seeded Brooklyn Tech (14-4) off the scoreboard on one end, Roman helped top-seeded Forest Hills (17-1) take a 4-0 lead into halftime with a pair of goals.
“I saw the opportunity and I took it,” Roman said. “I beamed the lacrosse ball into the net as hard as I could.”
Alexa Criollo and Natalia Ballester also scored two goals apiece for Forest Hills, which extended its lead to 6-0 with 19:49 left in the second half.
Monica Garlinska finally put the Engineers on the board with 17:32 left and Lilian Tran added back-to-back goals to pull Brooklyn Tech to within 7-3 with 8:21 remaining. But the deficit was just too deep.
“I think there were a lot of nerves,” Brooklyn Tech coach Anthony Cicolini said. “We didn’t play the way we normally play. We made some simple mistakes. We woke up in the second half, but there just really wasn’t enough time.”
There wasn’t enough time and there was too much ladybug.
“This means a lot to me,” Pastrana said. “This is my second year of playing lacrosse and I fell in love with the sport. It’s amazing.”
Follow Dylan Butler on Twitter @Dylan_Butler