Butler girls lacrosse team aims to break playoff hex
Butler's girls lacrosse team is used to reaching the postseason.
The Golden Tornado are back in the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
However, Butler doesn't want to become accustomed to losing in the first round, which has happened the past three seasons.
“Every year I think they learn something. After last year, they learned they are sick of losing in the first round,” Butler coach Annie Tigano said. “Enough is enough, and we're ready to move forward.”
The Golden Tornado haven't helped themselves much, though. The team reached the WPIAL Division II playoffs as the last qualifier from its section in the past four years, which gives it a matchup against a higher seed.
“It'll depend on who we get in the first round. A lot of teams in other sections, we've beaten them,” Tigano said. “I am really happy. We talked at the beginning of the year about not depending on other teams for us to make the playoffs. We wanted to control our own fate this year, and they've really done that.”
It did not help Butler that it had top teams like Shaler and Mars, which finished atop the standings, in its section.
“Both of those teams are great teams. North Hills and Hampton have always been good,” Tigano said.
The Golden Tornado found out just how good they can be earlier in the season. A 12-6 loss left the team at 2-2, but the squad rallied to close the regular season with an 11-7 record. Butler went 7-5 in Section 3. The Golden Tornado had key nonsection wins against power Blackhawk, Hempfield and Villa Maria Academy.
Blackhawk beat Butler, 13-8, in last year's playoffs.
“After the girls lost to North Hills early in the season, they made a turnaround,” Tigano said “They got really fired up after that game. They were not pleased. There was a spark lit under them.”
Butler has 11 seniors and seven — Melissa Bartley, Rosza Krafft, Kyleigh Jarosinski, Lindsay Walter, Megan Crawford, Olivia Kappler and Michelle Riesmeyer — are starters.
“They have been playing together for a long time,” Tigano said. “We have a couple sophomores and juniors on varsity who have been playing well. Our JV team has been doing well, too.”
Reanna Everton, a junior, and Crawford are the team's leading scorers. However, the Golden Tornado have been versatile and received contributions from everyone.
“In one of our games, we had nine different girls score,” Tigano said. “We have a lot of girls who can move the ball. We've had a lot of injuries this year. All of our girls can play any position. When I move them somewhere, they are ready and willing to go.”
Butler is eager to open the playoffs this week.
“I am really happy. They really came together,” Tigano said. “They really have great teamwork. This is my eighth year coaching, and this is probably the team I have seen work the best together.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.