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Ferragonio making mark in second season with Passion

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Passion
Plum graduate Lauren Ferragonio (73) takes the field before a Pittsburgh Passion game Saturday, May 24, 2014, at Cupples Stadium.

Lauren Ferragonio knew Beth Amato long before Ferragonio graduated from Plum High School in 2012.

Ferragonio and the Amato family were connected through soccer, and she was a teammate with Alexis Amato, Beth's eldest daughter, for two seasons on the Mustangs girls soccer team.

When it came time, Beth Amato, a 12-year veteran member of the Pittsburgh Passion women's football team, made an overture to Ferragonio about making her move to a new journey.

It's been an adventure, Ferragonio said, she's glad she's made.

“Ever since I was 12, (Beth) told me that she liked my aggressiveness and wanted me to play for the Passion when I turned 18,” Ferragonio said.

“When I graduated, my sister, Sarah, was still on the team and played with Ashley (Amato). I was at a game, and Beth asked me to come to a meeting with her. We had some more meetings, and then we started practicing.”

Today, Ferragonio is the starting right guard on offense for the Passion, who finished their regular season 8-0 on Saturday and are preparing for the playoffs in the Independent Women's Football League.

She is in her second season with the Passion.

“It was surreal at first,” Ferragonio said. “The people I was now playing with were people who I had been looking up to for a long time, including Beth.”

Ferragonio, who had attended Passion and Plum football games and played in the Powder Puff game at Plum for two seasons, said the Passion was an interesting switch from what she had been used to.

“It was kind of a big transition being involved with soccer and softball for such a long time,” Ferragonio said.

“I grew up with those sports, and they came easily to me. It was tough at first being 18 and trying to learn a whole new sport. It was a little overwhelming, but my teammates were great in helping me get going by answering any questions I had. They were really patient with me.”

Ferragonio said she doesn't mind mixing it up in the trenches.

“Soccer helped me because I was a very aggressive goalkeeper,” she said.

“I was always diving and tackling people. I was never afraid of contact. I like the physicality in football. Playing on the line, there's never a play where I'm not hitting someone.”

Ferragonio battled through injury at the beginning of the 2014 season, and it took her away from the field for a couple of games. But she was able to quickly regain her spot in the lineup.

Ferragonio said Beth Amato, a Plum resident who graduated from Gateway High School, is a role model for a number of players on the team.

Amato, nicknamed ‘G-Ma,' retired from the Passion after last season, but was encouraged by numerous members of the team to come back for another season. The linebacker has been a key component of a Passion defense that has helped the team to the league playoffs in nearly every season since the franchise's start in 2002.

“I have always looked up to her,” Ferragonio said.

“When she started, she was older than almost all the other players. She's fearless at her position. It's amazing, at her age (49), she is still able to go out there and play a position with such physicality. It just shows you that anyone can do something they want to if they are willing to put in the time and effort. She definitely is a big example of that.”

Pittsburgh defeated the Baltimore Nighthawks, 38-6, Saturday to close out the regular season undefeated. The Passion surrendered only 24 points in eight games and scored an average of 34.8 points a contest.

“It's been a special season,” Ferragonio said.

“Every year, our goal is the championship. We have the personnel, the coaching staff and the drive. We have all the tools to get that championship.”

The Passion are scheduled to open the IWFL playoffs on June 28 against the 8-0 Keystone Assault.

A win would put them in the conference championship on July 12, and the league championship game is set for July 26 in Rock Hill, S.C.

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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