ADAMS — Over four years of playing varsity lacrosse, Paige Crandall has emerged as one of the elite goalies in the region and beyond.
Crandall remains humble and would rather credit much of her success to her South Jefferson teammates.
“I definitely wouldn’t have got here without them,” Crandall said. “I owe a lot to them.”
Crandall, who just completed her senior year at the school, has been selected as the Times All-North Girls Lacrosse Most Valuable Player.
“I’m proud of this team and of our seniors and what we were able to accomplish,” Crandall said.
Crandall, who has played goalie at the varsity level since her freshman season, was selected as an All-American by the Section 3 Chair Committee for the Upstate Chapter.
Crandall is only one of seven All-Americans chosen to represent the Upstate Chapter, according to South Jefferson girls lacrosse coach Jen Williams.
“That in itself is an exceptional award and I couldn’t agree more with that honor,” Williams said.
“It’s a huge honor,” Crandall said of being named All-American. “It’s just good to know, because putting in all the time was worth it.”
The Upstate Chapter includes athletes from Section 3, Section 10 and Section 4 (Binghamton area).
Crandall follows former South Jefferson standout midfielder Sydney Roderick, who was named as an All-American in 2018.
“I think being named an All-American is one of the biggest awards you can get as a high school athlete,” Williams said. “And for Sydney to get it last year, I was completely shocked. I’m not as shocked with this one, however it’s very deserving for Paige. And I also think for the other young goalies coming up and not just here, but everywhere, that you can get the recognition you deserve.”
Crandall is one of seven seniors on this year’s team that helped make program history last year when the Spartans won the school’s first Section 3 title in girls lacrosse, advancing to the state semifinals.
“Being a part of the first team to do it was huge, especially not only for us, but for our community,” Crandall said. “We have such a tight-knit community, that everyone knew about it the minute it happened.”
This year, Crandall and the seniors helped lead the team to a 13-6 record, and ultimately to the Section 3 final.
“We’ve been together since the beginning,” Crandall said. “Like from third or fourth grade, we played all the way up through to now. Just being in sports, we’ve become so close over the years and for us to be part of the group to win the sectional title last year is a big deal.
“And we wanted to do it again this year being our senior season, and with everyone in the group, I feel like we all worked hard, we all knew what we wanted and there’s not one of us I think that didn’t try.”
Crandall especially appreciates the support she has received from the Spartans’ defensive corps. She has as also emerged as a team leader, both on and off the field.
“On the field, I’m a completely different person,” Crandall said. “Like you wouldn’t think that I’m a loud person, but when I’m in the goal, I just screaming every second out there.”
Backed by Crandall, the Spartans went 10-0 in Frontier League play, their fifth straight league title.
South Jefferson finished undefeated in the league for the fourth straight season and has won 28 straight games in league play dating back to 2016.
In the Section 3 playoffs, the Spartans defeated Homer, 21-7, in a Class D quarterfinal on their home field and bested Westhill, 13-6, in a semifinal game at East Syracuse-Minoa High School.
South Jefferson, seeded second in the tournament, was edged by top-seeded Skaneateles, 11-10, in the Section 3 Class D final at SUNY Cortland.
“We definitely grew as a team throughout the season,” Crandall said. “It just didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but there was definitely a lot of growth through the year — so they’ll definitely do well next year.”
Trailing by three goals in the second half, the Spartans rallied to tie the game with three successive goals, with the tying goal set up Crandall, as she sent a long outlet pass down field to senior Natalie Strough, who would convert on her own rebound of a free-position shot with 20.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
But South Jefferson would lose in heart-breaking fashion as Maggie Newton scored with 2.1 seconds to lift the Lakers to victory.
“It was hard in the end,” Crandall said. “Because we came back so hard in that game, so the way it did end was very disappointing.”
The long pass she sent to Strough in that game displayed Crandall’s versatility on the field which was invaluable to the Spartans’ success.
“She’s a person of few words,” Williams said. “And for me, just watching her play — the way that she outlets the ball, they way she obviously saves the ball. She knows the game, is a student of the game and continues to get better over her career. But the other part is she has two young nieces and a nephew who are now in our K through 2 program here at South Jeff. And she comes every single night and volunteers her time to give back to them — and she’ not just there to be there for them — she’s just there because she loves the game.”
Statistically, Crandall recorded a .441 save percentage this season as she made 87 saves and allowed 110 goals. She also collected 19 ground balls, was credited with 157 successful clears and recorded five caused turnovers.
“If you make a stop, there’s no better feeling,” Crandall said. “Just knowing that everyone is relying on you to make that save is really something.”
The Spartans defense allowed an average of 6.7 goals per game, holding foes under 10 goals in 12 of 19 games.
Crandall’s brother John, a former standout goalie for South Jefferson, inspired Paige to become a goalie.
“Growing up, he’s the reason I became a goalie,” Crandall said of John. “I always watched him play and I wanted to do exactly what he did. ... In the yard, we would just shoot the ball against one another and just from that, I grew to love it.”
Crandall will attend Division II Le Moyne College in the fall along with senior Savannah Fish, and both will be reunited with South Jefferson grads Sidney and Molly Hall, who play for the perennial Division II college lacrosse power.
“It’s exciting, but scary at the same time,” Crandall said. “But I’ll be fine. And the senior (goalie) when I get there will be Hannah George and she’s amazing, so I’ll definitely get to learn a lot from her.”