Shaler, Hampton girls lacrosse teams reach new heights
Shaler's rise in girls lacrosse has been a work in progress for four years under coach Jennifer Perestock, but they're finally where they want to be — in WPIAL's Division II Championship game.
“Words can't explain what we're feeling,” Perestock said. “The girls have worked really hard to earn this opportunity.”
The Titans fell just short of advancing to the championship game in the previous two seasons, but they broke down that barrier with a 16-6 win over Hampton.
“To take it all the way and win a championship would just mean the world to us, especially to us seniors, because we've worked so hard for four years for this,” senior Courtney Ambrozic said.
Shaler sophomore Shannon scored three goals in the first half to put them up, 4-2, at halftime.
“It felt great to shoot well, but we needed to step up as a team and pass better and use each other to score,” Lynch said.
The Titans then scored three goals in the first 82 seconds of the second half, two of which were assisted by Lynch on goals by senior Kristel Chatellier.
“It definitely helps that we have so many great players that can score,” Lynch said.
Shaler also relied on junior Nellie Phillips to win 20 of 25 draws.
“When you win the draw it automatically helps the team, because it puts you in control of the ball and you can get a lot of fast breaks,” Phillips said.
Ambrozic scored four of her five goals in the second half after a physical Hampton defense suffocated her with double- and triple-teams near the net in the first half.
“She's just trying to get out of there alive, really,” Perestock said. “She's a senior that's been getting beaten on for four years, and she keeps finding ways to get goals when we need them.”
Shaler senior goalie Saige Greygor saved 14 of 20 shots on goal.
“Saige is outstanding, and without her motivation we wouldn't be here,” Lynch said. “When our defense and goalie are communicating and helping one another, we are amazing.”
The game was suspended due to lightning for 21 hours with 13:54 to go in the second half and Shaler up, 10-4.
“We wanted to finish yesterday, but we knew what we had to do whether the game was stopped or not,” Perestock said.
The remainder of the game was relocated from the neutral site of Chartiers Valley to Hampton.
While the Titans traveled back to Shaler for a short walkthrough practice following the game, Hampton reflected on the program's most successful season to date.
“We have never made it to the second round of the playoffs, so that's a pretty big accomplishment and our girls know that,” coach Autumn Bullion said.
Hampton's seniors have set the bar high for future teams.
“Every year we've set a goal of trying to make it past the team before us,” said senior Nancy Happel, who will play lacrosse at St. Francis (Pa.).
The Talbots might have the talent to go further in the future.
“There are a lot of really good players that will come back next year, and we hope they keep getting better,” said senior Christine McGrath, who will play at Allegheny College.
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.