Nicola inherits team-leader role for Lady Highlanders
Baldwin's girls' varsity lacrosse team is led by senior center Carla Nicola, who accounted for 52 goals the past two seasons.
Nicola was the second-leading scorer on last year's team with 18 goals, finishing behind then-senior Alexa Stahl's 57-goal output in the scoring department.
Stahl, who ended her varsity career with a school-record 157 goals, and Nicola, one of 11 seniors on this year's squad, both were all-section selections last year.
“Carla is the heart of the team because of her stick skills, her understanding of the game and her speed,” Rich Deemer, Baldwin's head coach, said. “She was one of the top players in our division last season, earning her first section all-star award. She is the workhorse of the team, and is everywhere on the field creating turnovers and distributing the ball.
“Not only does she excel on the field, but her willingness to help younger players makes her a huge asset to the team.”
Nicola, Samantha George, a senior defender, and Mara Meyer, a junior attacker, are the Lady Highlanders' co-captains.
“Sami is a returning defensive player,” Deemer said. “She has a great awareness of the game. We look for her to help orchestrate our defensive set-up, and help develop our young defensive players.
“Mara is a returning attack wing. Look for Mara as a dual threat with her ability to find open cutters and her drive toward the goal.”
The Lady Highlanders won three of their final five games in 2013 to end up with a 5-9 overall record. Many of this year's players gained valuable varsity experience a year ago.
“We are returning the majority of our squad and hope to build off of last year's second-half success,” Deemer said. “We have a nice, well-rounded squad loaded with potential and depth.
“The strengths of the team are our senior leadership, willingness to learn, hard work and ability to overcome adversity.”
Another leading scorer back from last season is senior Dzeneta Kajan.
“Dzeneta looks to add to her nine-goal total from last season,” Deemer said.
Seniors Desiree Allridge, Melissa Costantino and Emily Jacobetz, along with junior Lauren Remlinger, are returning defensive players.
“They have a knack for anticipating passes and creating turnovers,” Deemer said. “They also have a great awareness of the game.”
Looking to make an impact this spring are sophomores Addison Reckley, Morgan Schaming and Dighan Kelly.
“These girls are true athletes who have a knack for wanting the ball and staying calm in pressure,” Deemer said. “Addison has an outstanding shot; Morgan and Dighan look to help our transition game.
“We also have some new names to watch as they develop and help contribute to the program this season.”
Players to watch include senior Bridget Kaufman and juniors Daruka Nyuon, Julia Cavataio and Alyssa Shanahan, on offense; and senior Victoria Schmotzer and sophomore Emily Betz on defense.
“Bridget, Daruka, Julia and Alyssa all look to help contribute to our scoring,” Deemer said. “Victoria and Emily look to help anchor our defense.”
Senior Sarah Casciato returns at the goalkeeping position, and will be backed up by senior Dani Hall again this season.
“Sarah looks to continue her stellar performance from last year,” Deemer said.
Two others looking to help the team's cause include senior DeKaitlyn Wilson, and junior Delaney Kelly.
“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. We have one of the toughest sections in our division.”
Chartiers Valley, last year's section champion, Bethel Park and Moon are leading section contenders in 2014.
Baldwin opened up with wins against North Hills, 11-7; Knoch, 6-5; and Yough, 7-5; along with a 12-3 defeat at Latrobe.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.