CORTLAND, N.Y. - You can draw a lot from watching a team's senior class. The way it carries itself in any given situation -- from early morning practices to win-or-go-home playoff games -- is a window into the team's personality as a whole.
Senior captains Kasey Mitchell (four goals) and Sydney Pirreca (three goals, one assist) led by example in Mount Sinai's 8-5 win over Honeoye Falls-Lima in the Class C lacrosse championship in Cortland Saturday. As state champs two seasons ago, they were poised, determined and never let the intensity of the moment get the better of them. That is, until the postgame award ceremony. That's when an avalanche of emotion hit.
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"I was just overwhelmed with happiness and sadness all at the same time," said Mitchell, whose eye black was looking slightly less intimidating after being smudged by tears. "Honestly, winning a state championship is awesome, but I'd rather lose 10,000 games and get to walk on the field tomorrow with these girls than win a state championship and have to end the season.
"It's not even a team at this point, honestly. We're a family. And to share this experience with them in my senior year, it's unforgettable."
From the get-go, Mount Sinai (20-1) was led by its seniors. Pirreca scored 1:59 into the game after making a move to the left side and firing into the top right corner. That was just the beginning.
Pirreca had the next two goals for the Mustangs, and Mitchell followed by scoring three straight Mount Sinai goals to close the first half.
"With Kasey Mitchell and Mary Ellen Carron, I could play with my eyes closed," Pirreca said. "We just know each other so well, tendencies and all that."
Sophomore goalie Hannah Van Middelem made five saves against Honeyoe Falls-Lima (13-9). She had help from a defense, led by Carron and senior Morgan McGrath, that didn't allow an opponent to reach double figures this season.
"It's unreal," Carron said. "Especially for all the seniors. We've grown up together. We've been playing together since first grade. It's just amazing."
It was Mount Sinai's second state title. From a leadership standpoint, the seniors, including Jess Demeo, Ashley Seiter and Sarah Raynock, have been irreplaceable.
"The leadership that this senior class exhibited, in my 34 years of coaching, was just some of the best I've ever had," coach Al Bertolone said. "This senior class took it to another level. They led these young kids, brought them along. They taught them how to deal with the pressure of being in a championship program."