Chartiers Valley squads found success, heartbreak in 2013
By Nathan Smith
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Chartiers Valley athletic department had to make room in the trophy case in 2013.
The athletic programs brought home three PIAA titles, not to mention WPIAL honors and section titles.
The following is a look at the top Chartiers Valley sports stories of the season.
1. State champion
It was a banner year for the Colt swimming and diving teams as two athletes won PIAA titles.
At the PIAA championships, Drew Damich captured the gold in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events – the first PIAA swimming title for Chartiers Valley since 1981. His gold medals were the only one for a WPIAL competitor in the Class AA boys meet. Damich's final time in the 200 was 1:40.52 and in the 500 was 4:33.75.
Being only a sophomore, Damich will have two more opportunities to find gold.
“It just makes me go even faster,” Damich said. “I want to come back and defend both my WPIAL and state titles.”
He also finished ninth in the 200 and 13th in the 400 freestyle relays with teammates Paul Novelli, Josh Rosato, and Michael Schmidt.
In diving, sophomore Maria Lohman captured the PIAA Class AAA diving title as a sophomore. She had battled back from being in sixth place at the competition to defeat North Penn's Marie Yacopino, 446.20-443.35, to capture the gold.
2. Hardwood heroics
Both the boys and girls basketball team reached WPIAL title games but neither could win the ultimate prize.
The boys went 24-5 and captured the Section 5-AAA crown. After defeating Knoch, 77-43; South Fayette, 67-62; and Beaver, 68-43, in the WPIAL playoffs, the Colts fell to Montour, 47-40, at the Palumbo Center in the finals.
Chartiers Valley team would move onto the state tournament and fall in the quarterfinals to Archbishop Wood, 49-46.
The girls team, meanwhile, went 22-8 and finished thread in Section 4-AAA with an 8-4 mark. The Colts defeated Shaler, 31-29; Upper St. Clair, 55-52; and Mt. Lebanon, 31-27, en route to the Class AAAA title game. Chartiers Valley fell to Bethel Park, 48-34, at the Palumbo Center.
The Colts rebounded and advanced all the way to the PIAA semifinals where it fell to Cumberland Valley, 54-39, in what would turn out to be Spencer Stefko's last game as coach.
3. Another silver medal
In what has become a recurring nightmare for the girls lacrosse team, the Colts fell to Shaler, 15-14, in the WPIAL Division II title game.
It was the third straight year Chartiers Valley finished as the runner-up.
After falling behind 7-1 early in the first half, the Colts went on an 8-1 run to cut the deficit to three at halftime. Maria Stamerra scored three goals in the opening eight minutes of the second half and Hope Tornabene tied it at 12-12.
Despite Stamerra and Margot Mason adding scores to put the Colts up by two, the Titans recovered and took a late lead for the win.
“My girls showed so much character to come back from that deficit,” coach Julie Gould said. “They linked arms and marched forward. I wish we could change the results for them. And it's not that Shaler didn't deserve it.
“I just wish my team's hard work would be paid off.”
Chartiers Valley finished the season with a 17-3 record.
4. Big scorers
The Chartiers Valley hockey team finished the 2012-13 season with a 15-5-1 record thanks in part to the scoring ability of a pair of juniors who led the PIHL's Class AA in scoring.
Anthony Franks and Cullen McMahon led the Colts with 69 points each – McMahon with 43 goals and 26 assists while Franks finished with 36 goals and 33 assists.
The Colts were eliminated from the 2013 Class AA Penguins Cup playoffs with a 3-2 semifinal loss to Greater Latrobe.
The duo got back to its scoring ways as seniors. Franks has 13 goals and 20 assists through 10 games of the 2013-14 season while McMahon has 17 goals and 15 assists.
5. Coaching shakeups
After a pair of long-term coaches resigned, two new faces made their coaching debuts in 2013.
Chris Saluga resigned as Chartiers Valley's football coach at the completion of the 2012 season. He was replaced by Neil Loebig, a former quarterback and assistant coach at Duquesne. The transition into the heading coaching ranks wasn't easy as Chartiers Valley finished with a 1-8 record in 2013.
The girls basketball team, meanwhile, welcomed in Ashley Battle. Previous coach Spencer Stefko resigned after the 2012-13 season and would eventually become the coach at Seton-La Salle.
While it was her first head coaching job, Battle brought a wealth of playing experience to the role after playing college basketball at Connecticut and playing professionally in both the WNBA and international leagues. The Colts started the 2013-14 season with a 1-5 record.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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