Kylie Tierney remembers the feeling perfectly.
The Garden City midfielder scored the lone goal in last year’s Class B state championship game, lifting the Trojans to their first field hockey title since 2008 and snapping Lakeland’s nine-year win streak. It’s a moment Tierney has played on a loop in her memory and, this season, one she and her teammates are hoping to recreate as they look to defend their crown.
“I can easily say for the whole team, that was one of the best experiences,” said Tierney, who finished with 10 goals and two assists last year. “Hearing that final buzzer and everything we worked for all season coming to a good end was the best feeling ever. We’re all excited and want that again.”
Garden City has turned winning championships into a habit.
The Trojans are six-time defending Long Island champs and have won the county in 24 of the last 25 seasons. This year, junior Sarah Killcommons said, they’re looking to build off a strong defense, which allowed just seven goals and posted 13 shutouts in 2018.
“We all trust each other,” Killcommons said. “We know that if we mess up, someone else will have our backs and pick up the ball we missed."
Still, the Trojans do have some rebuilding to do.
Garden City returns five starters, but graduated forwards Caitlin Cook, Amanda Cerrato and Grace Kelly. The trio helped lead an offense that averaged nearly five goals per game, and Bella Ottomanelli said she believes this year’s group is striving “to find where they work best on the field.”
“We lost a lot of key players from last season,” Ottomanelli added. “But everyone’s stepping up to fill the shoes of the girls who left.”
This season is another chance at a championship. The Trojans know they have competition - Cold Spring Harbor, Manhasset and Locust Valley are all looking to knock them off the top spot – but the squad is confident, bolstered by experience and, Tierney said, the memory of what they’ve already accomplished.
“There’s definitely pressure, but we can’t let that get to us,” Tierney said. “We have to play our game and play like we always play. We’re all keeping that in our heads and want what we had last year.”
In Class A, Massapequa is looking for its third straight title, after defeating Port Washington 2-1 in OT, but coach Melodee Ahrens said it will be a challenge. The Chiefs graduated 11 seniors from last year’s roster.
“I have a very young team this year,” Ahrens said. “Mentally, the returners have to step into this season like they just stepped out of last season. There’s got to be a roll over.”
Carle Place coach Briana Rubenstein echoed the sentiment. The Frogs graduated seven starters from last year’s Long Island championship-winning squad and while returners Emiline Biggin and Ali Nagy have their sights set on getting back to the state tournament, especially after falling 3-0 to Whitney Point in the final, Rubenstein admitted it won’t be easy.
“They have talent and a lot of potential, but we’re very young,” she said.