WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - They're really good.
Sachem East is so good that during this 49-game win streak, only twice have the Flaming Arrows needed to come from behind. So good, in fact, that the last time their backs were to the wall in a crucial game was two years ago.
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As fate would have it, the same team, Mamaroneck, again gave Sachem East its greatest challenge, dominating some stretches and giving itself several chances to win.
But the Flaming Arrows are so good, a defender scored the deciding goal -- for a second straight game. Kyle Larkin's tally with 8:55 remaining gave Sachem East a two-goal lead and it held on to win, 3-2, in the Class A regional field hockey final at White Plains High School Saturday.
Sachem East had edged Mamaroneck in penalty strokes to win its first state title in 2011.
"Their girls were riled up about 2011, and they wanted revenge," Larkin said. "We fed off that energy and gave it right back."
Now they're headed right back. Sachem East (20-0) will compete in Saturday's state semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse, seeking a third straight title.
Mamaroneck (19-1-1) possessed the ball for most of the first half and had an 8-1 advantage in penalty corners. But Larkin, Katie Doherty and Katie Trombetta led a defensive corner unit that cleared them all. Then Shelby Trentini gave Sachem East a 1-0 lead 7:35 before halftime.
"This was the toughest game we've played, and we expected that," Doherty said. "They made it difficult, but we're a smart, resilient team."
The Arrows' talented is unquestionable, but its dominance hadn't allowed for its mettle to be tested on a grand stage for some time.
The Tigers answered early in the second half, but Katie Trombetta put the Arrows ahead for good with 17:15 left, scoring on a liner from atop the circle. Larkin's goal, a tap-in off a drive and dish from Cara Trombetta on a penalty corner, made it 3-1.
Coincidentally, it was Cara Trombetta's ankle sprain late in the regular season that fostered Larkin's involvement in the offense as the corner inserter. The senior has since scored five goals.
"Kyle is my best friend and my neighbor, so it's fun to see her do stuff like this," Katie Trombetta said. "She's a great athlete."
Mamaroneck pulled within 3-2 with 4:02 to go and had almost tied it a minute later. But Desteny Holder (eight saves) made a diving stop of a ball toward the right corner and, amid several put-back attempts during a wild scrum, the Arrows cleared it from the circle.
"We refuse to lose," Holder said. "We're always focused and nobody wants to let anybody else down. It's hard to describe, but this team is very special."
They're really good.