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Plum lacrosse coach pleased with progress made in first competitive season

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Plum varsity boys lacrosse head coach Tom Wesolowski said his squad experienced growing pains at times in its first season against WPIAL competition.

He also said his players grew a great deal and matured through the season, and that will be a benefit for years to come.

“They loved every minute of it,” Wesolowski said.

“A lot of them were learning a new sport, and they excelled beyond expectations.”

Wesolowski said he expected to possibly see some high goal totals for the opposition — opponents scored 15-plus goals in five of eight games — but the goals for the season, he said, didn't totally center around wins and losses or what the final scores were.

“We really started to show we could play this game,” Wesolowski said.

“There were encouraging signs all over the field. They worked hard in practice, and it started to really show in games. I was proud of them for that.”

Wesolowski said he saw that improvement in a game against Hempfield on May 1.

The Spartans and Mustangs were tied 1-1 and 2-2 before Hempfield went ahead for good with a goal late in the third period.

“The kid could smell victory, but we just couldn't put it away,” Wesolowski said. “We really possessed the ball well and did a lot of good things. We clicked. The guys got it, and it pumped them up.

“They learned a lot about conditioning, both of body and mind, to be able to play four solid quarters of lacrosse. That will come with experience. It helped them push a little harder.”

The first season against WPIAL competition was the only such season for a group of seven seniors that Wesolowski said helped lay the foundation for the future.

Those seniors are Ryan Kuhn, Austin Boney, Matt Rihn, J.T. Hodil, Robert Fanell, Zach Arnold and Tyler Gergerich.

“I commend them for their dedication,” Wesolowski said. “They knew they were going to only have one year, but they didn't complain and had fun with each other. Their hard work inspired the younger players to work hard to excel. The younger players saw that leadership.”

The team celebrated its season Sunday with a banquet, and Wesolowski said it was very positive.

“It was a nice way to look back at the season and to the future,” he said.

The near future, Wesolowski said, consists of numerous offseason opportunities, including a local events with players from other area schools such as Franklin Regional, Gateway, Norwin and Penn-Trafford. Camps, league opportunities and games with club organizations are available.

“We want to keep this going in a positive direction,” he said.

Wesolowski said he and the program are excited with the recent confirmation that Plum will be a full member of the WPIAL next spring with a section schedule and playoff eligibility.

Division II will expand from three sections to four, and Plum will be in Section 2 with Allderdice, Aquinas Academy, Gateway, Hampton, Vincentian and Winchester Thurston.

“The schedule and section are set,” he said.

“That's a great step.”

Wesolowski also is pointing to having all home games played on the high school stadium turf. The team played home games this year on the natural grass at a borough field along Ross Hollow Road.

“Hopefully, everything continues to grow for the kids,” Wesolowski said.

“They've worked hard for it, and they deserve it.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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