Penn-Trafford lacrosse in transitional year
The Penn-Trafford field hockey team has shown how quickly program can go from club team to WPIAL champ.
Now, the Warriors have a boys lacrosse team that hopes to follow a similar path to success.
This season is the first for Penn-Trafford lacrosse as a school-sanctioned club team, and the varsity team is playing a transitional season against mostly WPIAL teams in hopes of becoming a full WPIAL member in 2014.
“The board approved lacrosse as a club sport, which doesn't mean much in terms of funding, but it means kids can letter, the team is included in the yearbook, and things like that,” Penn-Trafford coach Rob Martin said.
The team was defeated on March 22 in its opener, 15-0, by Indiana, a WPIAL Division II playoff team last season. The Indians are one of the toughest and oldest programs on the Warriors' varsity schedule, which also includes games against Latrobe, Gateway, Aquinas Academy and Vincentian, all of which are relatively new WPIAL programs.
“Indiana is a pretty experienced team, and they thumped us pretty good,” Martin said. “I told the kids after the game that is was a good learning experience. They weren't better athletes than us, but they had more experience playing lacrosse.”
Getting that experience is one of the most important goals throughout the Penn-Trafford lacrosse program, from the varsity team down through its youth teams. This year, the lacrosse program has close to 100 total members, with nearly 50 at the high school level on the freshman, JV and varsity teams.
Of the high school players, about 20 suit up for the varsity team, seven of whom are seniors, according to Martin. While the upperclassmen generally have no more experience with lacrosse than the younger players, the older group is helping to get P-T lacrosse off the ground.
“I think they're excited about being a part of something new, something that will be around a while,” Martin said. “As far as (lacrosse) education, they don't have a lot to offer the younger players, but they've done a great job speading the word about the team and having enthusiasm for it.”
Next year, Penn-Trafford hopes to join its neighbors in a WPIAL section. Norwin, Gateway and Hempfield all currently compete in Division II, the lower division, where P-T would enter the league. Franklin Regional, which has played lacrosse since the 1980s, competes in Division I, which is the higher division and provides access to the PIAA tournament.
To prepare for that leap, Martin is working to develop the players that will be the leaders for the varsity team in years to come.
“I'd like to develop the younger kids as much as possible,” Martin said. “We want to be competitive this year, but we're trying to make sure our underclassment get ample playing time and instruction.”
Penn-Trafford's next game is a neutral-site contest close to home. The Warriors will face Pickerington Central, a school from central Ohio, at Gateway High School on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.