HS Wrap 2017: Kyla Sears Earns Northeast POY Honors

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

A year after an ACL injury, Kyla Sears had another injury scare, but she battled through to post 65 goals and 37 assists in leading Skaneateles to the New York Class D final.


Kyla Sears had felt that twinge before. She knew that sensation of pain that comes with a serious knee injury.

The senior midfielder from Skaneateles (N.Y.) High School had missed her entire junior season after tearing the ACL in her right knee during the preseason. She worked doggedly to rehab and put herself in a position for a successful senior campaign.

So when she felt a similar sensation in the same knee during the opening game this season, she was worried and scared.

“It was the second half of the game. It was a cold day. It was a tough game,” Sears recalled. “I remember shooting, scoring a goal, and to avoid running through the crease, I kind of stopped suddenly. I just remember feeling this kind of sensation, like something in my knee gave out. I kind of panicked because I didn’t want to go through it again. I just walked off the field and talked to our trainer. I was optimistic that it was nothing big. Hopefully it wasn’t another ACL.”

Fortunately, it wasn’t. Sears tore the meniscus instead, which still required minor surgery, but it wasn’t season-ending like an ACL tear. Skaneateles learned then just how valuable she was.

In her six-week absence, the Lakers went 3-4. When she returned, Skaneateles won 15 straight, culminating in a class D state title. Sears helped erase a six-goal deficit and scored the double-overtime winner to lift the Lakers to a 12-11 win over Bronxville (N.Y.) in the final.

For her determination, ability to make her teammates better and incredible production upon returning to the field, Sears is the Nike/U.S. Lacrosse Magazine Northeast High School Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.

Nike/US Lacrosse High School Rankings
National Boys' Top 25 | National Girls' Top 25
Northeast Boys' Top 10 | Northeast Girls' Top 10
Mid-Atlantic Boys' Top 10 | Mid-Atlantic Girls' Top 10
South Boys' Top 10
| South Girls' Top 10
Midwest Boys' Top 10
| Midwest Girls' Top 10
West Boys' Top 10
| West Girls' Top 10

“All of the sudden, she was gone,” Skaneateles coach Bridget Marquardt said of Sears’ early-season injury. “The abrupt absence of her certainly was disconcerting to the team and it left questions, like who is going to step it up? We rallied a little bit. We had a really tough schedule.

“She came back and she just had such an aura around her that she makes everyone around her better. She certainly is a game-changer.”

Sears brings an all-around game to the Lakers’ midfield. Not only does she have a heavy hand in the attack, but she has the ability to control the draw circle and is also one of the team’s best defenders.

In the 15 games after her return from injury, Sears totaled 61 goals and 37 assists. She probably could’ve piled up even more points, but Marquardt was reticent to rush her Princeton-bound star.

“I begged her to let me play more,” Sears said. “And there were times she would get mad at me for riding too hard.”

That flies directly in the face of how Sears plays and approaches the game, Marquardt said. But the smart approach contributed to Skaneateles’ fourth state title since 2005.

“I call her a warrior,” Marquardt said. “She gets knocked down and cross-checked and hit and takes double- and triple-teams and she just bounces up and keeps on going. She’s a tiny little girl (just 5-foot-3), but she plays like a 200-pound linebacker. She has no fear.

“Her stick skills are just phenomenal and her game sense is unrivaled. She has a high lacrosse IQ. It’s just her tenacity and the will to win. It’s something you can’t coach. It’s just within. She’s a warrior.”

Sears took matters into her own hands against Fayette-Manlius (N.Y.), a Class B school, on April 29, a little less than a month after tearing her right meniscus.

The Lakers were trailing by a few goals and failing to generate possessions. Sears stepped up to gain control in the draw circle, and the Lakers started to rally as she netted seven goals and added an assist in a 14-13 overtime win. F-M advanced to the Class B state title game.

“You could see it, the momentum turning,” Marquardt said. “She put the team on her back and went. They didn’t have an answer for her. She still wasn’t 100 percent. We could see that if we kept her healthy, she was just going to get better and better.”

Sears finished her five-year varsity career with 282 goals and 138 assists. As an eighth-grader, she had 40 goals and 20 assists, and her stellar freshman campaign (72 goals, 41 assists) helped Skaneateles win a state title as well.

“Kyla was special, and we had some great players over the years,” Marquardt said. “I wish she had another year. But she’s ready and I know Princeton is anxious to get her. I have no doubt in my mind that she will work her way into that starting spot at Princeton immediately.”

Sears said she is “ecstatic” about what she and the Lakers accomplished, but looks forward to the next chapter of her lacrosse career.

“I’m excited about the future,” she said. “Just the academics at Princeton are going to be so rigorous. I’m excited for that, to see where it takes me. And their lacrosse program has had so much success. I just can’t wait to get in there and be a part of it.”







EPOCH/US LACROSSE NORTHEAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR

KYLA SEARS

School: Skaneateles (N.Y.)
Year: Senior
Position: Midfielder
Stats: 65 goals, 37 assists in 2017; 282 goals and 138 assists in five varsity seasons.

Coach Bridget Marquardt: “Her stick skills are just phenomenal and her game sense is unrivaled. She has a high lacrosse IQ. It’s just her tenacity and the will to win. It’s something you can’t coach. It’s just within. She’s a warrior.”  

Also notable: Jenn Medjid, Garden City (N.Y.); Caitlyn Muir, Honeoye Falls-Lima (N.Y.); Jamie Ortega, Middle Country (N.Y.); Meaghan Tyrrell, Mount Sinai (N.Y).

NIKE/US LACROSSE NORTHEAST TOP 10 (FINAL)

1. Garden City (N.Y.), 20-1

The Trojans claimed their 14th state title in the past 22 years with a 16-8 win over Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) in the Class B championship to finish a perfect season against Northeast region opponents. Their lone loss was against nationally-ranked Mid-Atlantic power Moorestown (N.J.). Jenn Medjid (Boston College) finished with 62 goals and 28 assists to lead the Trojans.

2. Mount Sinai (N.Y.), 18-2

The Mustangs topped Honeoye Falls-Lima (N.Y.), 15-4, to win their third straight Class C state title. They ended the season on a 15-game winning streak, following early losses to Shoreham-Wading River (N.Y.) and national No. 4 Notre Dame Prep (Md.) by a combined three goals. Junior Meaghan Tyrrell (Syracuse) led the Mustangs with 66 goals and 40 assists.

3. Darien (Conn.), 20-3

The Blue Wave collected their fifth straight Class L state title with a 13-10 win over Wilton (Conn.). Their losses were to national No. 7 Ridgewood (N.J.), No. 2 Garden City and then-ranked Manhasset (N.Y.). Darien has won nine titles the past 10 years.

4. Pittsford (N.Y.), 20-1

Sophomore Ellie Mooney scored on a free-position shot just into the start of the second overtime to lift the Panthers to a 10-9 win over Middle Country (N.Y.) in the Class A final for the program’s first state title. Pittsford’s lone loss was to Brighton (N.Y.). Senior Elizabeth Blanding (New Hampshire) finished with 40 goals and 25 assists for Pittsford.

5. Middle Country (N.Y.), 18-4

The Wolverines scored two goals in the final minute of regulation to force overtime, but ultimately fell 10-9 in double overtime to Pittsford (N.Y.) in the Class A championship game. Three of their losses were to nationally-ranked opponents. Senior Jamie Ortega finished with 98 goals and 45 assists, as she became the all-time leading scorer in state history. Ava Barry added 58 goals and 57 assists for the Wolverines.

6. Skaneateles (N.Y.), 18-4

The Lakers closed the season with 15 straight wins, capped by a thrilling 12-11 overtime victory over Bronxville (N.Y.) in the Class D state final. Senior Kyla Sears (Princeton) scored her fifth goal with 23 seconds left in the second overtime to lift Skaneateles. Sears, the Northeast Player of the Year, finished with 65 goals and 37 assists, while freshman Riley Brogan added 51 goals and 27 assists.

7. Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.), 16-4

The Brothers didn’t get a chance to try to defend their state title after falling 9-7 to eventual champion Pittsford in the Class A semifinals. All four of their losses were against teams that are currently or have been ranked in the top 25 this season. Junior Olivia Penoyer (Virginia) finished 65 goals and 45 assists for the Brothers.

8. Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.), 15-3

E-SM’s season ended with a 12-6 loss to top-ranked Garden City in the Long Island Class B championship game. The Sharks led 6-5 at halftime, but were shut out in the second half. Senior Kaitlyn Dowsett (Siena) led E-SM with 34 goals and 41 assists this season.

9. Needham (Mass.), 23-3

The Rockets raced out to an early 4-1 lead and used strong team defense to secure an 8-5 win over previously-ranked Longmeadow (Mass.) in the Division 1 state championship game. Needham came on strong at the end of the season, closing on a 19-game win streak after a 4-3 start.

10. Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.), 13-4

Bayport-Blue Point ended the season with a 9-6 loss to Mount Sinai in the Suffolk County Class C title game. It was the team’s second loss to Mount Sinai this season, and the other three also came against ranked opponents. Junior midfielder Cassidy Weeks led the Phantoms with 24 goals and 15 assists.

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