A good Farmingdale girls lacrosse team achieved greatness

Farmingdale's Laura Fullam, left, joins the celebration with

Farmingdale's Laura Fullam, left, joins the celebration with teammates Samantha Brescia, Olivia Kirk and Emily Dwyer, right, following their win in the Class A NYSPHSAA Girls Lacrosse Championships semifinal. (June 7, 2013) (Credit: Adrian Kraus)

The night before last week's state final, the Farmingdale girls lacrosse team was ambushed in its hotel by masked assailants wielding pistols.

The masterminds: Kayleigh Escamilla and Tara Wahl -- with superhero disguises and Nerf guns, pulling off a well-executed prank on their teammates.

"Being at states is a lot of pressure already, then you make the championship game and people can get a little nervous,'' senior Sara Tolson said. "I think being able to laugh and have fun took away some tension.''

This wasn't one of the mighty Farmingdale teams of the recent past; wasn't one of those Dalers squads stacked with superstars and oozing swagger. And this group certainly wasn't in any discussions of the nation's best teams, as its 2009 and 2010 predecessors were.

The players readily admit that.

But as the clock expired in an 8-5 championship game win over Baldwinsville, and the delirious Dalers celebrated at SUNY Cortland, the rankings and perceptions mattered none.

They weren't a collection of great lacrosse players, coach Shari Campbell admitted, but "the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.'' And, really, all the components of a great team were present. For what it lacked in overall talent, there was every bit the craftiness, resolve, leadership -- and, yes, levity -- to overcome.

"When we won the first [state title in 2009], we were No. 1 in the country,'' Campbell said. "This time, we weren't that high in polls, not included in some, and the expectations of us were different. It's really rewarding to stay the course and just grind it out.''

During the Class A Nassau final, a game the Dalers had won seven straight years, they trailed Massapequa, 5-2, in the second half. Never was it more clear that the divide between Farmingdale and its rivals had narrowed, if not closed. "Slow starts weren't new to us, so we didn't panic,'' senior Brenna Weill said, alluding to Farmingdale's reliance on comebacks and close wins this season. "There was enough time to pick it up and get back in it.''

Tolson and Lindsey Rzempoluch, role players, took it upon themselves at halftime to give a pep talk and "keep everyone from getting down.''

Wahl scored three times, including the go-ahead goal, as Farmingdale rallied for an 11-9 victory.

The Long Island championship was a rematch of last year's game. Except Bay Shore, ranked sixth in the country, returned with most of its core that had beaten Farmingdale. The Dalers were back, sans two All-Americans.

But Nadine Hadnagy, driven by a promise she made to avenge that 2012 loss, had four goals, including the winner, leading Farmingdale in the 12-11 upset.

"After that, I had an inkling we would win it all,'' Campbell said. "It just felt right. The trajectory of our team gave me confidence -- peaking at the right time, new people stepping up.''

Hagnagy, Amanda Turturro and goalie Olivia Kirk were the constants. But then emerges Bridget Weill, matching her season total with four goals to spark a 10-6 win over Penfield in the state semifinals. And Chrissy Kelly, stellar on draw controls in the final. The understated contributions of attack Paige DeVine and midfielders Maggie Fleming, Emily Marlow and Laura Fullam. And the defense, with its quiet dominance in the tournament, behind Courtney McPartland, Samantha Brescia and Emily Dwyer.

"We don't have a lot of big names anymore,'' Brenna Weill said. "What we are is a good team that came together and did something great.''

As the hugs went around and the coaches were sprayed with silly string, not a thought was given to style points.

This was their imperfect perfect season.

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