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Motivated by last season, Mt. Lebo girls lacrosse off to 10-0 start

| Monday, April 14, 2014, 10:36 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Mt. Lebanon midfielder Alyssa Battaglia carries the ball between North Allegheny's Abby Smith (24) and Julia Butteri on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Mt. Lebanon High School.

There's no confusion among the Mt. Lebanon girls lacrosse team as to what this season is about.

“Every year we sit down with the seniors as a coaching staff,” coach Brian Kattan said. “This year we have six seniors, and every one of them at the meeting said they want to win a WPIAL championship.”

The Blue Devils had their postseason cut short last season in a WPIAL Division I semifinal loss, 9-7 to Shady Side Academy — a game called with nearly 10 minutes left in the game because of a lightning storm.

That game has become this team's identity, with the girls donning T-shirts reading “Let the storm rage on.”

It certainly raged Friday when the Blue Devils got their revenge in a 14-2 dismantling of Shady Side.

Opponents are taking notice.

“A lot of the girls who play club lacrosse know girls on the other teams,” senior attack Alyssa Battaglia said. “Even though they're our opponent, they give us respect. It's kind of sad for them though because they expect that they're going to get crushed when they play us.”

To put it lightly, Mt. Lebanon has throttled its opponents this season, winning its first 10 games by an average score of 14-5.

Yet they're hungry for more and ready to take on all challengers.

“I think that's where the senior and junior leadership really came through,” Kattan said. “They understand that every game is different.

“Every team around here, we're they're championship game. If they can make the playoffs that's great, but if they can say they beat Mt. Lebanon that year then they're happy.”

Kattan has been blessed with a wealth of balanced scoring and a good mix of youth and experience this year, but the defense has been the real strength of the team.

Senior captain Molly Shure, juniors Amanda Riesmeyer and Liz Donley and sophomore Molly Collins all returned with junior goalie Carina Barnes from last year's team. That continuity has allowed the back line to take a big step forward.

“We communicate better than we ever did in the past,” Shure said. “I think we're more aggressive as well, but communication is the big difference.”

Mt. Lebanon (10-0), which won WPIAL titles from 2004-06, is the top-ranked team in the WPIAL according to LaxPower.com, and the players are well aware. Kattan is fine with the attention his girls pay to the rankings, and said their confidence has improved because of it.

“It gives us a great deal of pride,” senior Emma Schoonmaker said. “After having some tough rivalries in the last few years, it's been awesome to see the way we've just crushed opponents this season.”

Much to the dismay of Mt. Lebanon's opponents, it seems this storm has no end in sight.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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