ShareThis Page

Defending WPIAL champion North Hills hoping to seal lacrosse legacy

| Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 12:29 a.m.
Christopher Horner
North Hills senior Natalie DiPaolo works out Monday May 14, 2012 at Martorelli Stadium. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Hills senior Natalie DiPaolo works out Monday May 14, 2012 at Martorelli Stadium. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Their dominance hasn't been matched in nearly two years. But the roots of the North Hills girls lacrosse team's 37-game winning streak reach back much further.

“It's been more than the past two seasons,” said Indians coach Rachel Hoza, who began coaching most of the Indians' nine-member senior class while they were still in junior high. “My starting lineup has been the same for really the past six years.”

And so the upcoming WPIAL Division II postseason represents more than just a chance to repeat as champion for North Hills (17-0).

Three more wins, beginning with Thursday night's quarterfinal against visiting Baldwin, would make for a grand finale to a great legacy.

“It's about doing it for each other,” senior midfielder Natalie DiPaolo said. “Knowing this is the last time we're all going to be playing together, it's important to go out on that note.

“In seventh grade, we thought it was such a big deal winning a tournament. Now, coming from WPIALs and being undefeated again, it's awesome seeing how we've improved over the years.”

Indeed, the Indians might be playing the best lacrosse of their lives — most notably, on the score sheet. Their average goals per game has increased by nearly two from last spring to a WPIAL-leading 16.24, and their 8.53 average margin of victory ranks second in the league.

“We have this bond, playing with each other for so long,” midfielder Emily Jamison said. “Each one of us knows what we're going to do before we do it.”

And if the ball gets to Jamison, it's not difficult to predict the result.

Typically, it's a goal.

A recruit for Division-I Robert Morris, the prolific senior leads the Indians with 83 scores and creates opportunities for teammates, as well.

“She's our captain and the big threat on our team,” Hoza said. “A lot of (opponents), they know our team well enough now that they'll triple-team her, but I have a whole field of threats.”

With four other players on the roster scoring at least 31 goals, that's no exaggeration. Despite missing the end of the regular season with a hamstring injury, DiPaolo remains second on the team with 49 tallies. Following her are Kara Scherling (45), Jordan McKenna (44) and Ciara Barry (31).

“It's like one big family out there,” said DiPaolo, who hopes to return for the playoffs. “It's about making up for each other and filling in. We have to keep moving forward.”

That's the direction these girls have been going in for six years.

“They've honed their skill with the positions they play so well that they've become naturals,” Hoza said. “It's amazing to watch.”

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-380-5697.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.