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North Allegheny girls celebrate lacrosse program's 1st playoff win

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Allegheny goalie Katie Shideler makes a save against Shady Side Academy's Elizabeth Walsh in a WPIAL first-round playoff game May 15, 2017, at Shady Side Academy.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Paige Jones competes against Shady Side Academy in a WPIAL first-round playoff game May 15, 2017, at Shady Side Academy.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Vivian Lindsey competes against Shady Side Academy in a WPIAL first-round playoff game May 15, 2017, at Shady Side Academy.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Paige Jones is introduced before their playoff game against Shady Side Academy on May 15, 2017, at Shady Side Academy.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Nicole Atkinson scored North Allegheny's fourth goal against Shady Side Academy in a WPIAL first-round playoff game May 15, 2017, at Shady Side Academy.

Brooke Ferringer was nervous lining up against Shady Side Academy's Emmie Lau in the face-off circle. The North Allegheny sophomore was more comfortable knowing she had a tag-team partner to support her.

Fellow sophomore Paige Jones and Ferringer worked together to box out Lau, a Brown commit. Ferringer ended up controlling 15 of 22 draws Monday at Shady Side Academy, helping the Tigers beat the Indians in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

“We really controlled the draw, which was good,” Ferringer said. “Paige Jones helped out on that. Our ball movement was good, we kept the ball in the air. We created space for each other and got some goals off of that.”

It was the first playoff win in history for North Allegheny, which fell 15-9 to Seneca Valley in the quarterfinals two days later. Being able to beat the Indians required the Tigers (7-9) to shake off a late-season slide.

The Tigers lost their last three and six of their last nine entering the postseason.

“The communication she has with her wing players was big in this game,” North Allegheny coach Harry Datz said. “Communication between the two of them was impeccable. She knew the Shady Side face-off players because she plays in a league with them.”

North Allegheny's defense was 34th out of 47 teams in the WPIAL, conceding 13.19 goals per game. North Allegheny had an entirely new defense this season. Julia Puntil, Bethany Schreiber, Cassidy Heim and Josie Barton all made key contributions in front of goalie Katie Shideler.

“Communication was key; it was something we worked on prior to the playoffs,” Datz said. “The defense we have in place was young; they are all new this season. It was a matter of them coming together, and the emphasis on the playoffs pushed them to communicate on a higher level.”

Against Shady Side Academy, North Allegheny overcame a 6-5 halftime deficit with a strong second-half performance.

“Our defense has improved, and they've been a key component in shutting down the opposing team,” Ferringer said. “We work on slides a lot. That was one of our weak spots, one v. ones, and we shut them down.”

The offense was then able to provide the support to give the program a historic moment. Abby Washabaugh scored a hat trick, while Caroline Palguta tallied two goals.

Ferringer — who also provided five goals — knew by the end of the game all of their pre-game anxieties were gone.

“We knew we could do it and didn't let them get the best of us,” Ferringer said. “It felt good after.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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