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Lakeland Soccer- FAMILY


"The following is an article written by Tom Forde- who puts better into words what I can as how I want the men's soccer program at Lakeland to be viewed. And even though it was written a few days after a sectional final loss- one that will not be forgotten shortly- it touchess on the important parts of a team that I would like to build the foundation of my program on: the foundation of heart, leadership, sacrifice, teamwork, and above all else FAMILY!"

Forever a Family
Even in championship defeat departing seniors leave with something far greater than a trophy


Forever. That is what every team fights for in a championship game. That feeling of being eternally remembered by history for greatness all comes down to one game. And after every championship game there is a celebration that ensues. A culmination of dreams manifested into reality by athletes who have sacrificed their bodies and played with their hearts on the line all season long. The champions pile on one another laughing loudly and smiling ear-to-ear without a care in the world. The photographers and reporters all run to them because they are the main attraction and the best of the best. Yet, there I stood at the end of the Section One boys soccer championship game motionless. I had been lucky enough to cover one of the best teams I have come across in my time as a sports journalist on the high school level in the Lakeland Hornets. I had kept in constant contact with their coach, Tim Hourahan, and followed every second of their breath-taking run through the sectionals. They became my team and I honestly became one of their biggest fans due to the heart and energy they displayed on the field.
So as the final seconds ticked off the clock in their championship game against Byram Hills Sunday night at John Jay High School I knew what was coming. Byram Hills was about to win the Section One title and the celebration was about to begin. As the final whistle blew a joyous celebration exploded from the Bobcats sideline and reporters and photographers alike ran to join the fray. I stood motionless standing alongside my favorite team and favorite story as they dealt with the inconsolable pain of a championship loss.
The tears flowed down the face of every Hornet and I couldn't help but feel a similar emptiness myself since I watched and admired the passion they played with all season long, only to see their championship dream end that cold November night. The feeling on the Lakeland sideline was that of heartbreak, but their emotion was just as real and tangible as that of the newly crowned champions. Eight Lakeland seniors came into this season looking for the dream ending to eight illustrious careers that consisted of 22 total years on the varsity level and a sectional championship in 2004. Eight careers that ended one game shorter than planned. But the tears and pain were not due to losing a title or the inability to hold a plaque up high. No, the sad reality that faced the Hornets was that this was the end of an era.
Cory Davies, Dan Rodrigues, Craig Pietrangelo, and Jimmy Hannigan had all played their final games as a Hornet. Nick Jerussi would never blast another goal with his bright yellow cleats. Andrew Collins would never clear another ball from the sweeper position. Colin McGovern would not chase down a loose ball at midfield again. And Mike Rosato would not stand between the posts as Lakeland's keeper one more day.
The true agony of defeat for Lakeland was not what they lost, but rather who they lost. This team was a family that had as much love for one another as they did for the game itself. And that final whistle marked the last time this band of brothers would march into battle together. There would be no tomorrow for this team and saying goodbye for those eight seniors may be the most difficult words to utter. Still, the greatness that this team exemplified could not be washed away with one game.
When I look back on this team I will remember how much these guys really loved each other and how they would do anything for their teammates, Hourahan said. They will always have those great memories of some of the most memorable sectional games ever.
These seniors will depart with the knowledge that they have built a brilliant program on the foundation of heart, leadership, sacrifice, teamwork, and above all else, family. When the elite eight moves on to college some may play on next level and don different jerseys but they will always remember their days wearing the green and white. Even when they are old and gray this team will always be connected by the years in which they became a family.
As a sports journalist I must always remind myself to keep an emotional distance from the teams that I cover but I am only human and such a fan of quality athletics that it was nearly impossible to detach myself from a team of such class individuals on and off the field. They are a credit to their parents, friends, coaches, and the entire Lakeland community. The field and the stands that the Hornets once owned and inspired are vacant now but grace and excellence they personified will live on long after that final whistle.
The Lakeland boy's soccer team saw what all teams will sooner or later see: the end of an era. But as time moves on it will be those memories of their journey, built over the years, which will serve as the greatest reminder of these glory days gone by. They celebrated, laughed, cried, fought, and bled for one purpose. They did it all for one another and while they did not win a plaque to look back on, they gained something much greater. They will always be brothers. They will always be family. And that, like the title of champion, lasts forever.

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