Stars figure to light way for Shaler lacrosse this season
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Shaler coach Jennifer Perestock has found success in the adage of quality over quantity.
“Cream of the crop, but small in numbers basically describes our team,” Perestock said.
The defending WPIAL Division II girls lacrosse champs have only three seniors on the roster, but two of them — Nellie Phillips and Morgan Burke — were All-WPIAL selections last season.
They are joined by junior midfielder and top scorer Shannon Lynch, who also was named to the All-WPIAL team as a sophomore, making Shaler the only team to return more than one All-WPIAL player.
The surprise of the season so far has been the nine freshmen who made the varsity roster, with five in the starting lineup.
Although Perestock lost several players in the offseason — including a few who elected not to play their senior season — allowing so many freshmen onto the squad was far from a panicked decision.
“The freshmen who are on varsity belong there. They definitely earned their time,” Perestock said. “They kind of perfectly replaced my seniors who graduated last year.”
With the newcomers in place, the Titans had such a wealth of talent in the midfield that players were being shuffled all over the field. Burke was also moved up to the midfield from defense, allowing her to impact the entire field of play.
“It was hard for me even to start the season,” Perestock said, “because with so many new kids at once — trying to place them everywhere — it's a lot of trial and error.”
Shaler started the season with wins over Bethel Park and Moon before dropping its most recent game 13-8 on Saturday against Chartiers Valley.
The rematch of last season's 15-14 WPIAL final evidenced the of work that still needs to be done for Shaler to regain its championship form from a year ago.
But the Titans aren't worried about that.
“I think we're just going to continue to step up throughout the year. It's bound to happen,” Perestock said. “The talent is all there in every spot. As the year goes by we're going to get stronger and stronger as the freshmen get more confident and used to varsity play.”
Peters Township, the reigning Division I champ, has faced similar growing pains, albeit with a fairly different roster.
The Indians have no freshmen and just four juniors. Despite having nine seniors, less than half the team is returning from last year's championship squad, coach Kristen Slemmer said.
“We've been trying not to focus so much on the past and get caught up in our reputation,” Slemmer said. “We're trying to focus on being a new team and starting our own legacy.”
Captains Allison Hurley, Gina Vilsack, Lizzie Hill and Rachel Windmueller are leading the way in building that legacy.
The team is focusing on mental toughness, hustle and teamwork, and how those elements can be implemented in every game.
“The girls are not as confident as they have been, but I see that already starting to grow,” Slemmer said. “All around, it's just a younger team than we've had in the past.”
In their first game this year against Pine-Richland, the Indians trailed 4-0 within the first eight minutes of the game.
Behind its senior leadership, Peters Township overcame the deficit to win 11-8.
“I think it was just a whole change of their mental toughness and believing in themselves, when at first they weren't as confident,” Slemmer said.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Retailers court web customers with free shipping
- U.S. military shifts strategy to smaller Iraq force
- Steelers notebook: Injury to RT Gilbert opens door for Adams to start
- Black Friday trends, tactics change, but Americans still love bargains
- Researchers at Pennsylvania’s top universities take to the web to fund projects
- Stakes high as ex-Saints receiver Moore faces his former team
- Flurry of business activity enlivening quaint Saxonburg
- No federal funds to help enforce Pa. ban on texting by drivers
- Florida roommates find a career in playing video games on web channel Twitch
- Penguins GM prepares for emotional series against Carolina
- Penguins notebook: Winning home games crucial for Penguins