Chartiers Valley grad Mason returns to lacrosse, hopes to help budding Westminster program
Two years ago, Kim Eldridge was charged with building the Westminster women’s lacrosse program from the ground up. As is the case with many fledgling teams, the Titans had their share of struggles.
They went 1-9 in their inaugural season then improved to a more-respectable 5-9 last season, though they finished with only 13 players on the roster.
Westminster opens its third season with more optimism. Eldridge has her biggest roster yet: 24 players, several of whom have two years of collegiate lacrosse under their belts.
Juniors Emily D’Amico and Bria Braddock combined for 99 goals in 2018. Michaela Hays, a second-year player, complemented them with 15 goals. Junior Cortlynn Douds and sophomore Marissa Keller anchor a defense that includes promising freshman goalie Emma Bradley (South Fayette).
And the Titans should get an additional lift from a player whom Eldridge knows well: first-year junior Margo Mason. Eldridge was Chartiers Valley’s coach during Mason’s senior season, when the Colts went to the WPIAL final and PIAA playoffs.
That PIAA quarterfinal was Mason’s most recent competitive lacrosse match, and, as far as she was concerned, it would be her last.
“Honestly, when I transferred (from Penn State) into Westminster, I had no desire to play lacrosse,” said Mason, who walked on to the Westminster tennis team in the fall and earned the No. 1 singles spot. “I was strictly tennis. I think once I started playing tennis, I started missing lacrosse, and seeing the lacrosse team practice reminded me of high school.
“I never thought I would miss lacrosse.”
She said she talked to a few of the players, and they asked her about the possibility of playing. They seemed eager to have Mason on board, and that, along with her familiarity with Eldridge, made the decision easy.
When she picked up her stick, she picked up right where she left off at Char Valley. In the Titans’ first two matches — both wins during a trip to Texas in mid-February — Mason scored a combined 18 goals.
“I definitely noticed, compared to tennis, it was much more like riding a bike,” she said. “The only thing I had a problem with was getting into lacrosse running shape. And I still can’t say I’m there yet.”
Eldridge already expected to have more lineup flexibility than the previous two seasons. The combination of the expanded roster and experience of the returning players would make that possible.
With Mason, Eldridge has another option to help maximize the team’s potential.
“Having had Margo in high school, she’s familiar with a lot of the plays and tactics,” Eldridge said. “She knows my coaching style and my philosophy, what I expect from my players.
“She assimilated immediately to our team, and it’s helping our team grow in our core values and our character.”
The tennis team also will have some matches this spring, and Mason is hoping to fit them around lacrosse with minimal conflicts. But she is eager to help push the lacrosse team to new heights.
Buoyed by her old coach and a group of talented and supportive teammates, Mason is excited for the new lease on her lacrosse life.
“Having Kim here definitely helped. She was such a great coach in high school, and I had a great relationship with her,” Mason said. “Honestly, I don’t think I would be playing if (the players) weren’t so welcoming. They made me feel like I was wanted. And this group of girls is amazing.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .