Wayne Hills Patriots Girl’s Lacrosse Score a Historic Three-Peat

 

By Steve Sears

The applause and great respect are there, both very well deserved. 

However, the ultimate question may always be, “What might have been?”

In May, when the Wayne Hills Patriots girl’s lacrosse team defeated Lakeland, 17 – 10 for their third straight Passaic County Tournament title, they etched their names in the PCT record book as only the second team to win three consecutive titles. Lakeland, from 2016 to 2018, was the other.

It was Wayne Hill’s sixth PCT title overall, and the seniors on the current club have won 17 consecutive games against Passaic County competition.

But there will always be the asterisk. Had COVID19 not canceled their 2020 season, and the team had also won the PCT that year, they would be head and shoulders above the rest as the only team ever to win four consecutive county titles.

Head Coach Daniela Wagenti, whose team finished this season with a record of 16 wins and 5 losses, has been coach at Wayne Hills for six seasons. “The COVID year, we obviously were only losing one starting senior from the 2019 championship team,” Wagenti explains. “We obviously had big expectations for that year, and then COVID hit. We were doing full training, our winter training. We were doing everything in the offseason to keep that up. We definitely had high expectations for that season.”

The above being said, Wagenti and the Patriots are being saluted for a job well done. The team has been fortunate to have a number of outstanding players, quite a few being named to the All-Passaic County list as top performers. Kaitlyn Davies – one of the top-rated players in the nation – was named First-Team All-Passaic County along with Sydney Levitt, Kate Lopresti (who this season set the single season record for assists), and Sarah Park. Second teamers were Sam Hoff, Fiona Qira, and Corinne Zaccone, while Mia Cuccinello and Kayla Le scored Honorable Mention honors.

Davies, who scored 308 total goals in her Wayne Hills career, will take her talent to the University of Florida this fall. “As a coach, having her on the field actually makes everything easier,” Wagenti says. “The girls look up to her, the girls want to be like her. She is a role model for not only the younger kids, but also the kids that are her same age that have been playing with her forever. The one thing about Kaitlyn is she is the humblest player – she just wants the team to do well. She just wants to win. There are times where I’ve spoken to her after a game and I’ve asked her, ‘How many goals did you actually have today?’ And she honestly doesn’t know. That stuff isn’t her focus. She wants the team to get better, she wants the younger kids to get better, and she wants to win. She’s one of the most competitive athletes I’ve ever had.”

Davies had six goals against Lakeland, and during her career she has many times scored more than that in games. Sarah Park, who celebrated her 18th birthday the day the Lakeland game was played, scored four goals, and Sydney Levitt tallied five times. Goalie Samantha Kopleton had 10 saves in net.

The Patriots had defeated Lakeland rather handily, 20 – 9, during the regular season, so Lakeland had revenge in mind, and they and Wayne Hills were tied 6 – 6 at halftime of the PCT title game. Wagenti made a few adjustments, but also offered brief but pointed words to Davies and the other seniors. “I took the seniors aside and said, ‘It’s now or never, this is it. You’ll never play another Passaic County game, let alone a championship game ever again. It’s kind of up to you at this point.’”

Message delivered, and eventually so was the title.

Wagenti loses eight starting seniors for 2023, so next season will be a more challenging one. “It’s really a rebuilding year next year,” she says. “We’re going to have to rebuild, and the girls coming up are just going to have to work hard and try and keep the caliber of play that they’ve been used to that past few years with that senior group.”

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