Young Seneca Valley girls lacrosse team making strides
A new wave has arrived for the Seneca Valley girls lacrosse team.
After graduating 10 seniors from last year's squad that reached the WPIAL Division I quarterfinals, the Raiders welcomed a new group to the lineup this season.
“We started with a lot of new players this year. I have two freshmen starting and one sophomore that didn't play last year. It's kind of a new mesh of players,” Seneca Valley coach Katie Smolter said. “They are doing well. They are getting there. They are learning to work well together.”
Seneca Valley has its most experience on the attack. Seniors Peyton Moriarity and Megan Batykefer returned from last year. Juniors Lauren Podolec and Jenny Listwak have stepped into the lineup.
“For the two juniors, this is their first year fully being on the varsity,” Smolter said. “Having two seniors back really helps. They are doing a good job leading the girls on that end.”
The midfield has a wide range of players: Allie Head is a senior, Karina Lasko is a junior and Bella DeFabbo is a sophomore.
“That's a positive and a negative to have some younger players in there,” Smolter said. “We'll have some players to build around for the next couple years, but they just lack experience at the varsity level now.
“Karina has been one of our biggest assets offensively and defensively. In our first game, she had seven goals and two assists. In the second one, she had six goals and three assists. We rely on her a lot,” Smolter said. “Bella is a goalie in soccer, and the footwork she carries over from soccer is so crucial for us.”
Seneca Valley has a wide array on defense, as well. Senior Alice Miller joins newcomers in junior Caroline Foley, sophomore Mary Sinan and freshman Emily Meredith.
“Definitely, Alice has helped lead the defense and help guide some of the younger players. She has taken on the role of being a leader back there. She is an excellent communicator. They trust her,” Smolter said.
Junior Liz Hanks took over at goaltender.
“This is her first year of varsity, and she has done well. She is working well with the defensive unit. They are doing well back there,” Smolter said. “She has great hands as a goalie. That's something we value.”
Last year, Seneca Valley finished 10-7 after a 19-12 loss to Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL quarterfinals. The Raiders started the year 2-7 overall and 1-5 in Section 1, which includes Pine-Richland, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Sewickley Academy, North Allegheny and Quaker Valley, the defending WPIAL champ.
“We definitely have a tough schedule and we're in a tough section. I've been with the program for nine years, and we've always been a strong program. We are a team that is used to success. At the same time, we've had our fair share of losses. This year is one of those transition years,” Smolter said. “We have lot of talent there. It's just teaching them to work off their strengths and improve each other. We're getting there.”
Three of the team's losseswere by four goals or fewer.
“Perseverance has been a huge strength. We've fought back in many of our games to get within a chance of winning. The fact they showed a lot of fortitude is something I am very proud of,” Smolter said. “We started onto the second half of our schedule. Now that we've seen all the section teams, we're prepared for the second half of the season, and we're excited for the games to come.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.