Sewickley Academy field hockey team qualifies for WPIAL postseason
A young Sewickley Academy field hockey team is doing better than expected this year.
Nearing the end of the regular season, the Panthers (5-5 overall, 5-3 in WPIAL Class AA) have clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoffs. Two of their losses were to defending WPIAL Class AA champion Shady Side Academy. Their other section loss was to Winchester Thurston.
Sewickley Academy has only four seniors. Many on the team are first-year players.
“It's a rebuilding year,” coach Cheryl Ann Lassen said. “Going into the season, we didn't know what to expect.
“But the girls have been playing very hard. They are more confident and have been stepping up their game.”
Senior co-captain Megan Johnson agreed the team has come a long way.
“We're playing more as a team and less as individuals,” said Johnson, 17. “We are communicating much better.”
Senior Alexis Bosilovich leads the Panthers with 12 goals.
In her first year on the team, senior Arianna Carley has scored four goals.
Lassen isn't surprised Carley is playing so well.
“Arianna played field hockey when she was younger,” Lassen said. “Her stick skills are very sound.”
First-year goalies Margaret Athol and Sarah Duplaga have one shutout each.
Duplaga, a junior, never played field hockey before this year.
“Sarah is very aggressive,” Lassen said. “She does what it takes — she's not afraid to step in front (to stop shots).”
Senior defender Grace Meakem also is impressed with the way Duplaga has played.
“Sarah's been killing it,” said Meakem, 18. “She and Margaret are big reasons we're having so much success.”
Athol, a sophomore, moved to defense after playing forward a year ago.
Playing on turf at Frick Field has helped the Panthers.
“It's made us quicker,” said Bosilovich, 17.
Expecting some games to be played on grass surfaces, Sewickley Academy is practicing on a grass field for the playoffs.
“It's a slower game on grass,” Meakem said. “It's important that our younger players get used to that.”
The Panthers have high hopes approaching the playoffs.
“We'd like to be WPIAL champions,” Johnson said.
Lassen, Sewickley Academy's coach since 1994, considers it a realistic goal.
“The way the girls are playing, anything can happen,” she said. “It would be great for our seniors if we won.”
The Panthers last won the WPIAL title in 2001.
The last time they made it to the playoffs was two years ago. From 2006 to 2008, they qualified three straight times.
Sewickley Academy was 3-9-1 a year ago.
The WPIAL playoffs are slated to begin next week.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.