SUNY Cortland has become a familiar end of the season travel destination for the Farmingdale girls lacrosse team, but Dalers goalie Alex Gurecki had never been to the site of the state tournament.
Last season, Gurecki, then a sophomore, was moved up to the varsity for the playoff run to back up star Lauren Maksym, but she got the flu before states and didn't make the trip.
This year, Gurecki was determined to make the four-hour trip upstate, and it showed in her play. She made six key saves, and Melanie Raso scored four goals, as Farmingdale won its fifth straight Long Island Class A title, 13-9, over Bay Shore Sunday at Dowling Sports Complex.
"Big shoes to fill," Gurecki said of stepping in this season for Maksym, the Long Island player of the year in 2009. "I'm really excited about going to states."
So were Gurecki's teammates, who mobbed her after the final whistle. Their celebration seemed in doubt in the first half when Bay Shore (16-4) took a 5-3 lead on Alyssa Leonard's third of four goals.
Farmingdale (13-4) took its first lead 32.8 seconds before intermission on Kyra Ochwat's goal. That was part of a five-goal run, after which the Dalers never trailed.
"We did not want to be down," Raso said. "It's hard to come back when you're down a lot, so we just kept it close and then chipped away."
Shelby Vaccaro's goal with 11:07 remaining in the game pulled the Marauders to 10-9, but that was the last goal Bay Shore would score. Goals by Maegan Meritz and Raso within 30 seconds of each other quickly pushed the lead back to three. Neither team scored after Raso's fourth goal with 7:12 left to play.
"We had trouble getting the offense going," Bay Shore coach Allison Pfeffer said. "Possession was key because getting the ball back and creating something on our side was that much harder."
During its playoff run, Farmingdale has outscored its three opponents 49-22.
"The defense started working together and just talking [about] where the ball is," Gurecki said. "It just shows our improvement."
Gurecki will get her first taste of the SUNY Cortland field when the defending state Class A champion Dalers take on Pittsford of Section V at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the semifinals. Most of her Farmingdale teammates have been there many times before.
"Thank goodness we just keep breeding these kids who just want to come through and be champions," Farmingdale coach Shari Campbell said. "It makes my life a lot easier."