CORTLAND, N.Y. — Kaitlyn Larsson and her Garden City lacrosse teammates used to sit in the stands in awe of the program’s success.
On Saturday morning, they were on the field adding to that legacy.
Larsson made 10 saves and Jenn Medjid had six goals and an assist to lead Garden City in its 16-8 victory over Fayetteville-Manlius in the Class B state championship game at SUNY Cortland, the team’s second straight title and 15th championship overall. Kelly George added three goals and four assists for the Trojans, who trailed 5-2 with less than 16 minutes left in the first half before going on a 12-1 run.
“Ever since middle school, we would go to the high school games and look up to all the girls on the team, and it’s amazing to now actually be one of those players,” said Larsson, a senior who was named the title game’s most valuable player. “Last year, we won and I cheered from the sidelines and had a great time. This year, I was in the game and it’s really a dream come true.”
“When I was little, I always watched them and they went back to back a couple of times; it hasn’t sunk in yet that we went back to back ourselves,” defender Devon Heaney said.
Larsson and the defense played a key role in helping the Trojans weather an early storm, as Fayetteville-Manlius (17-4) won 10 of the game’s first 13 draw controls. Though Garden City (20-1) trailed by three goals roughly nine minutes into the game, some key stops ensured that FM’s massive possession advantage did not turn into a proportionally large edge on the scoreboard.
“That’s incredible motivation. When she makes that save, you want to finish it on the other end,” George said.
Toward the end of the first half, Garden City’s offense did begin to finish, with Medjid’s scoring and George’s playmaking leading the way. George fed Caitlin Cook, who tied the game at 5 with 9:13 left and though FM answered back a minute later, George scored with 5:24 left in the half to even the score again.
Three minutes later, Medjid scored off an assist from George to break the tie. In the final two minutes of the half, Sarah Kaval scored and Medjid added two more goals to make it 10-6 Garden City at the break.
“Kelly was feeding from behind, we all just cooperated, I kept cutting, and I knew we’d get openings,” said Medjid, who scored all of her goals in the first half.
In the second half, Garden City blunted FM’s edge in the draw control circle — the Trojans won five of the period’s nine draws — and led 14-6 with 11:28 left.
The victory offered vindication for a squad that spoke all year of shedding a “rebuilding team” label, despite the fact that 17 seniors graduated from last year’s team.
“We wanted to prove to everyone we’re our own team and prove to everyone we could do awesome things,” Heaney said.
They did just that.
And maybe they also inspired a future group of state champions.