Stahl, Nicola back to help lead Lady Highlanders' offensive attack
Baldwin's girls' varsity lacrosse team advanced to the WPIAL playoffs in 2012.
Head coach Rich Deemer is anticipating a repeat performance.
“We have one goal — to make it back to the playoffs,” Deemer said. “We come to practice with the attitude that hard work to improve each day will help us achieve our goal.”
Deemer welcomed four returning starters this year, including the team's two leading scorers from last season.
Alexa Stahl, a senior attack wing, registered 63 goals last year after netting 38 goals as a sophomore.
She has a chance to break the team scoring record, currently held by Manon Pilardi, a 2008 Baldwin graduate.
“Alexa is the heart of the team because of her stick skills, understanding of the game, and speed,” Deemer said. “She is one of the top players in our division.
“Not only does she excel on the field, but her willingness to help and encourage younger players makes her a huge asset to the team.”
Carla Nicola, a junior attack wing, had 34 goals last year. Deemer expects Nicola to make a big impact this season.
“Carla is an incredible athlete who understands the game well,” Deemer said. “She is the workhorse of the team and is everywhere on the field, creating turnovers and distributing the ball.”
The two other returning starters are senior center Abby Stock, who clicked for 10 goals in 2012, and senior defender Shannon Donnelly.
“Abby is a versatile player. She helps anchor our defense while providing scoring opportunities on offense,” Deemer said. “She's in top physical shape, and is able to play both ways.”
Donnelly, who along with Stahl and Nicola are the team's co-captains, is the lone returning starter on defense.
“Shannon has a knack for anticipating passes and creating turnovers,” Deemer said. “She also has a great awareness of the game.
“We look to Shannon to orchestrate our defensive set-up, and to help develop our young defensive players.”
There are several newcomers in the Baldwin lineup, including senior Nicholette Bonacci, juniors Emily Jacobetz and Dzeneta Kajan, and sophomores Paw-Par Heat, Maura Meyer, Daruka Nyuon and Alyssa Shanahan on offense.
“All look to help contribute to our scoring this season,” Deemer said.
On defense, Donnelly is joined by juniors Desiree Allridge and Sami George, who are complemented by seniors Stephanie Pavlick and Caitlin Dee, junior Melissa Costantino and sophomore Lauren Remlinger.
“Both Desiree (Allridge) and Sami (George) were instrumental in helping us get to the playoffs last year,” Deemer said.
Sarah Casciato is the starting goaltender, and is backed up by Dani Hall. Both are juniors
Top freshman prospects include Addison Reckley and Morgan Schaming on offense, and Dighan Kelly on defense.
“They all have potential to contribute on the varsity,” Deemer said. “A pleasant surprise this year has been how quickly our freshmen have picked up the game.”
Baldwin's veteran head coach expects Chartiers Valley, Bethel Park and Blackhawk to be the teams to beat this season.
“We have one of the toughest sections in our division,” said Deemer, who is assisted by Kristen Papariello.
With a half-dozen seniors on this year's team, the Lady Highlanders are looking to make a serious run at a WPIAL playoff berth.
“The strength of the team is our senior leadership,” Deemer said, “(and) our willingness to learn, work hard, and ability to overcome adversity.”
Baldwin opened its 2013 season by splitting decisions in its first two games.
The Lady Highlanders dropped a 12-6 verdict to North Hills in their season opener, and followed up with an impressive 12-4 win against Yough.
The Baldwin girls are scheduled to visit Chartiers Valley tonight, Thursday, and will host Moon and Blackhawk next week.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.