Baldwin earns conference title


It was a spectacular regular season for Baldwin’s girls’ lacrosse team that netted the Conference 3 championship and a near unbeaten record. 
The Bruins were moving up in class against bigger schools and met the challenge with a 13-1 finish – 8-1 for the conference title – amid year that saw Emma Ryan score her 100th career goal. 
 But now Rebecca LaFlare’s Baldwin squad got a tough draw to start Thursday’s playoffs as a sixth seed against mighty Port Washington in the first round. 
But anything’s possible for this Baldwin group. “I know it can be intimidating and a hard match for us,’’ said Ryan, who tallied 52 goals and 12 assists. “But if we come out strong and work together, we can come out with a good outcome. A lot of the girls are nervous for it but we did very well this season. We just have to step up to it and we should be OK’’
 Ryan, who will play lacrosse at Hartwick College in Oneonta, finished with 106 career goals, though coach LaFlare cites her 87 draw-control wins as just as vital.

“It means so much to me,’’ Ryan said of the milestone. “ I’m absolutely thrilled about it. I’ve been working so hard and it’s nice to see my hard work is paying off.’’
With sophomore speedster Kaitlin Timmes adding scoring punch with 47 goals, Baldwin was dangerous. Its only loss came May 3 against Division, 7-6. It occurred directly following its gigantic victory over Oyster Bay and was seen as a letdown game. In different conferences, Baldwin had never faced Oyster Bay.
“I really wanted it to be an undefeated season,’’ LaFlare said. ‘Unfortunately, when we played Division, we had just come off the huge win over Oyster Bay – our biggest game of the season. I feel the girls gave it their all that game (against Oyster Bay) and two days later we had Division and we had three injuries. 
The final against Division was 7-6. “We didn’t look like the team that came out of Oyster Bay,’’ LaFlare said. “Having that loss humbled us a bit about not taking any team lightly.’’
But nothing can erase the memory of the Oyster Bay’s 11-10 overtime triumph when Ava Jerome scored the OT winner. “We knew they were the best team in our conference,’’ LaFlare said. “That was the game we needed to be on our A game and we were.’’
As valuable as Ryan was, Timmes stepped up big time as a sophomore. 
“She’s superfast,’’ LaFlare said. “She sprints it down and gets a goal. She was all over the field transition-wise, such a hustler. She never stops and gets every ground ball in her way. She’s a phenomenal all-around great player.’’
Goaltending was a strength with Megan Engelhart, who notched nearly 150 saves. “She kept us in every game,’’ LaFlare said. 
Alexis Lakeram was the top defender. “She slows the ball down from any fastbreak coming,’’ LaFlare said.
It all added up to greatness, no matter what happens versus Port Washington. 
“I think we all knew we were going to a higher conference and it’s the same girls as last year,’’ Ryan said. “We all knew we had to step up in different aspects. Maybe we were all working together in the offseason and making sure we were all there for the harder teams we’d be playing. We wanted another conference championship.’’
LaFlare admits it is the underdog at Port Washington. “They just have a lot of lacrosse players that will be going off to play in college whereas we have a lot of athletes and some who will play college,’’ she said. “What we have is heart and want to win so bad. If we play the right tempo we can give them a run for their money.”