The 2015 National High School Player of the Year is the youngest sister of one of the top field hockey families in the game. Since 2008 the Bozek sisters have helped build Lakeland High School in New York into a perennial field hockey power. The program finished the 2015 season ranked #1 in the Northeast Region and #5 in the nation. While Dana may have followed in her big sisters footsteps, one thing is for sure-- she has left her own special mark on the Lakeland field hockey program and field hockey in the state of New York. Her incredible 5-year Varsity playing career came to an end this Fall, with the senior captain and 2-time First Team All-American leading her Lakeland Hornets to a perfect 22-0 season and their 7th straight New York State Championship (Bozek's fifth straight). Bozek was unstoppable, especially in the big games when it counted most. The center midfielder had a part in 46% of Lakeland's scoring this season (46 goals and 25 assists). For her absolute dominance and the impact she had on the game every time she stepped on the field, Dana Bozek is the 2015 National High School Player of the Year!
We reached out to Lakeland Head Coach Sharon Sarsen to get some more information on Bozek. It didn't take long to see the great amount of respect and care that Sarsen has for her senior leader. It also didn't take long for us to get a good picture of the type of character that Bozek is. Sarsen passed along a couple of classic stories that we just couldn't pass up. Sorry Dana :)
Head Coach Sharon Sarsen on Bozek:
I got to know Dana as a little kid following her sisters around. She would do anything she could to annoy the older kids. I remember she was so annoying one day at winter league (this was when she was like 7 years old) that current National Team player Melissa Gonzalez (who also played at Lakeland) told her there was no Santa Claus to get back at her. Melissa also once stole her scooter at summer league. She deserved it all.
Dana made the first start of her career in the State Championship game in 2011 vs. Garden City. I started her at forward. We won that game 3-1. She was so excited after the first goal we scored she dropped her stick, goggles, and mouth guard all at once in the celebration. It was so funny.
Her personality is magnetic. Her smile makes others smile. Her love for the game and the opportunities it has given her are quite appreciated. Coaches and referees respect her and understand how she has impacted Section 1 and New York. She is an ambassador.
Dana has an intensiveness about her and wants to win at everything. You always want to be ON Dana's team, not against her. She will do everything in her power to be on the winning end. This has carried through to her field hockey career. She did lose one game out of state her 8th grade year, but did not lose again. And there were many times where the other team was as good as Lakeland and in some cases even better. She finds a way to win. Her thoroughness to details, preparation and execution are quite impressive. She gets everyone around her to "buy in." That's as good a leader as you will see.
Dana is not overwhelmed by the big moment. She rises to the occasion. If I look back at every big game, Dana has stepped up. This year she scored in every game in the post season. Most notably four goals vs. Rye in impressive fashion in the Section 1 final (after being taken out on a corner prior to this) and two goals in the state final vs. Garden City. Dana has had the most amazing high school career at Lakeland High School. I always look forward to seeing how Dana will play when the game is big.
Sarsen will have many more opportunities to see how Dana plays when the game is big as she continues her playing career at Wake Forest University in North Carolina next year. Bozek will face both of her sisters this upcoming Fall in ACC play: her oldest sister Megan is an assistant coach at Boston College and her middle sister Emma will be playing her final season at the University of North Carolina.
The Bozek Sisters: Megan (played at UNH), Dana and Emma
BOZEK'S 2015 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
- Senior Captain
- 46 goals and 25 assists from her center mid position
- MAX Field Hockey Northeast Player of the Year
- MAX Field Hockey All-Northeast Region
- Harrow Sports/NFHCA First Team All-American
- Harrow Sports/NFHCA All-New York Region
- MSG Varsity All-Metro Player of the Year
- New York All-State Selection
- New York All-Section I
- All-Elite Selection
- All-League Selection
LAKELAND'S 2015 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
- Finished a perfect 22-0 season
- Final National Ranking: #5
- Final Northeast Region Ranking: #1
- Outscored opponents 154-6 (Bozek had a part in 46% those goals)
- New York State Class B State Champions (7th straight)
- New York State Section I Champions
- Wins against Regionally & Nationally Ranked opponents (Bozek tallied 12 goals in these 5 games)
- Wilton High School (CT): 4-0 Win (Final Northeast Ranking: #5, went on to win the Connecticut Class L State Championship)
- Mamaroneck High School (NY): 3-0 Win (Final National Ranking: #11, went on to win the New York State Class A State Championship)
- Darien High School (CT): 6-0 Win (Final Northeast Ranking: #7, FCIAC Champions)
- Rye High School (NY): 4-1 Win (Final Northeast Ranking: #8)
- Garden City High School (NY): 4-1 Win in the State Championship final (Final Nation Ranking: #22)
A Q&A WITH THE NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
QUESTION: How does it feel and what does it mean to you to be selected as the 2015 National High School Player of the Year?
Bozek: "When I first found out I was named the 2015 National High School Player of the Year I was in complete shock. The first thing I did was text Sars (Coach Sharon Sarsen) saying "OMG!" I am so honored and proud to represent Lakeland field hockey with such a huge award."
QUESTION: What made this year's team and season special and different than the rest?
Bozek: "The senior class this year really made this season special. We played together more than any other class before us. Whether it was going to the turf, tournament or futures, we constantly had a stick in our hands."
QUESTION: You won a State Championship the previous 4 seasons (since you were in 8th grade on the Varsity). Did you feel like there was a lot of pressure on you this year, as a senior captain, to win it again?
Bozek: "Yes, definitely. With each year there was more pressure to win another championship. In 8th grade my job was to press really hard and not turn the ball over. As captain, it was my job to lead, not only with my play, but with my knowledge of the game."
QUESTION: What does Coach Sarsen mean to you and how has she helped shape you into the player you are today?
Bozek: "Sars has given me every opportunity to be the best possible player I can be. I give her mostly all of the credit. Most importantly she has helped me develop my work ethic, which I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I don't know if she will ever understand how truly thankful I am that she helped me discover the sport I love."
QUESTION: What do you think it is that makes Lakeland so successful year after year?
Bozek: "I think it's our year-round play. Every player on the team plays in the winter, spring, and fall- there really isn't an off-season for us."
QUESTION: Is there anything in particular that you personally worked hard on to develop in your game that made you so successful this season?
Bozek: "Corners the last few years have been one of our weaker areas of play. This season I called corners our bread and butter. We scored on a corner in every big game and that is where a lot of my goals came from this season. It was a nice change to have corners be one of the strongest parts of our game."
QUESTION: What is your favorite memory from playing field hockey at Lakeland?
Bozek: "Probably the Section I final against Rye this season. Rye had really been gunning for us all season long- from the start of preseason they continually said they really wanted to beat Lakeland. Although the 4-1 scored doesn't reflect it, the game was one of the hardest games of the season. To score four goals in my last sectional final was unreal. If someone were to tell me that was going to happen four years ago I would have laughed at them."
QUESTION: Is there any field hockey player that you look up to and strive to play like?
Bozek: "Luciana Aymar in her prime was by far my favorite and the best field hockey player in the world."
QUESTION: You will be attending Wake Forest University next year and playing in the top college conference in the country, the ACC. What do you think will be the biggest adjustment you need to make to your game to compete at that level?
Bozek: "Just by watching the games it is obvious that the speed of the game is so much faster and the talent pool is much larger. The fact that I will be playing against national team players or even my sister Emma definitely tells me I will need to get much fitter, faster, and stronger before I can compete at that high level."
QUESTION: If you weren't playing field hockey, what would you be doing?
Bozek: "I'd most likely be playing basketball and softball. Those were my two favorite things to do before I started playing field hockey competitively."
Bozek in action
2015 NYS Class B State Champions
The first time the 3 Bozek sisters played together
Big Apple Memorial 6v6 Tournament (NY), May 2015 (and yes, they won!)