Dynamic duo paces Lakeland field hockey
SHRUB OAK – Emma Bozek and Shannon Scavelli were the top two goal scorers in all of Section 1 last season in an undefeated state championship season for Lakeland. The dynamic duo is back and making their mark already.
Scavelli and Bozek each scored two goals, and Bozek added four assists in a 7-0 victory over John Jay-Cross River on Thursday. Rebecca Bard scored two goals and had an assist for the Hornets as well.
“Games like this are great for us,” Bozek said. “We can focus on our fundamentals and get better as a team.”
Rebecca Bard, a junior “utility player” as Coach Sharon Sarsen called her, put the game completely out of reach in the early portion of the second half with two quick goals to give Lakeland a 5-0 lead.
“We have had a hard time finding production from the left forward position and we put Bard there in a few spots last season,” Sarsen said. “For us to succeed through the season, we need her on defense, not at forward.”
Until someone fills the void consistently when Bard is on defense, Bozek and Scavelli’s scoring prowess will be just fine. The North Carolina-bound Bozek scores easily and sets up her teammates consistently, and the Michigan-bound Scavelli has a knack for putting the ball in the back of the cage. Her first goal was a thing of beauty, as she made three touches on the ball while dodging defenders, traveled 50 yards, and scored.
“They’re both prolific scorers and great players,” Sarsen said. “I’m looking forward to their production.”
The Lakeland defense, despite being almost completely rebuilt, pitched its first shutout of the season behind the lone returner, Allie O’Mara. According to Sarsen, the defense will determine how far Lakeland goes this season.
“We need to get better on defense to be as successful as we want to be,” Sarsen said. “The things I say and teach them now, I don’t want to have to repeat a month from now.”
Despite the big deficit, the Indians had some positive moments. Dayna Mercer kept John Jay in the game through the first twenty minutes by making some great saves (13 of them in total) against the relentless Hornets before Lakeland broke it open.
But today was about Lakeland and its explosive duo. The Hornets’ expectations after back-to-back state championships have not been tempered by the defensive losses. One publication has even ranked Lakeland No. 1 in the country.
“There’s definitely some pressure because of the high expectations,” Bozek said. “We’re just going to take it game-by-game though.”
“I think it’s comical,” Sarsen said. “It’s nice to get recognition, but because we have two big names doesn’t make us the best in the country.”
Whether Lakeland is the best in the country or not, their plan is to just be the best in the section to start.
“We just want to improve our communication and consistency,” Bard said. “That’s what we’re focusing on.”
Email John Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow him on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone