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Norwin lacrosse ends season on high note

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Doug Gulasy | Norwin Star
Norwin midfielder Nico Alessandro carries the ball during the Knights' game against Quaker Valley on April 29, 2013, at Norwin High School.

The 2013 campaign didn't bring a postseason appearance for the Norwin lacrosse team, but it ended on a high note nonetheless.

The Knights (6-10) finished off the best season in program history with an 8-6 win over Gateway on Senior Night last Wednesday.

“We tied everything together as far as team concepts are concerned, being selfless and being resilient,” coach Jeff Braid said. “In terms of play on the field, we had the emotion and team interaction. Everything we worked for and talked about over the course of the season played out (Wednesday) night. It was nice to see the players realize that if you do these things, good things will happen.”

Braid said Norwin made plenty of progress in 2013, the fourth season in program history.

In addition to setting a program record for victories, the Knights stayed in postseason contention until the final weeks of the season. A 9-6 loss to Latrobe on May 1 effectively eliminated the Knights from contention.

Tough losses to the Wildcats and to section opponent Greensburg Central Catholic — which beat the Knights, 12-11, in overtime April 25 — kept Norwin out of the playoffs.

In all, Norwin lost five games by three goals or fewer — including three one-goal losses in overtime. Still, Braid said, that represents progress from the first few years of the program.

“Before, we would go into the third or fourth quarter down six or seven goals,” Braid said. “Now, we're going into the third or fourth quarter with a two-goal lead. So it's (a matter of) closing out and finishing.”

Now comes the next step. Braid said the Knights are “losing a lot of scoring” from this year's team. Attackers Josh Ellwood (14 goals), Brendon Masten (13), Tyler Liebdzinski (nine) and Adam Ponsonby (seven) are graduating, as is top-scoring midfielder Joel Batiste (seven goals, six assists).

In total, the graduating seniors scored 53 of the team's 66 goals this season.

In their place, Braid said he expected junior midfielder Nico Alessandro (seven goals) and junior defender Jesse Moonis, a captain this season, to step up as leaders. The Knights will have three defenders returning, and Braid said a strong group of underclassmen should contribute at midfield and on attack next season.

“We definitely have a strong backbone,” he said.

And Braid said the team is motivated heading into the offseason, “especially after (Wednesday) night.”

“That feeling of accomplishment, teamwork and being on the positive side of things, seeing how hard work can pay off — (after) getting a taste of that, they want more,” Braid said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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