Bethel Park girls lacrosse aims to defend section championship

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Saturday, April 23, 2022 | 9:01 AM


More of the same.

Bethel Park’s girls lacrosse team last year won its first section championship since 2012.

And it was a junior-driven squad.

The Black Hawks, with nine seniors on this year’s team, aim to make another strong push for a section title in 2022, followed by a deep plunge into the postseason playoffs.

“I could give you some standard quote about this senior class is very talented and we have been building to this season for years and expectations are high and all that, but that would only be half the story,” coach Becky Luzier said. “What that quote fails to honor is what a truly special group of young women and leaders this team composed of.

“The tenacity and creativity and humor they bring to each and every practice and game is unparalleled in my 21 years of coaching. I have never run to practice for the sheer joy of coaching like I have over the last few seasons. They’ll make their mark again on program history just like they have every season for the last four years but more importantly, they will leave a legacy in my heart and in the hearts of each other.”

Luzier, who is assisted by Taylor Connors and Jackie Rutkowski, continued.

“With everything we have all lived through and see around us right now, that’s what they’ll remember,” Luzier said, “that a lot of unexpected challenges can come and you can still be true to yourself and make memories with the people you care about and work towards a common goal with both focus and fun.”

The senior class is represented on this year’s team by midfielders Caitlyn Schultz, Tori Krapp and Riley Miller; attacker Maddie Walters; defenders Megan Cunningham, Chloe McDaniel, Kaitlyn Wiard and Lily Marchand; and goalie Sydney Kosko.

“Those nine seniors who have for the most part been starters together since their freshman year means the chemistry in this group runs deep,” Luzier said. “My expectation is to see more of the same from this group. They are committed and hard-working.”

Four of the upperclassmen — Schultz (UVA Wise), Krapp (Seton Hill), Miller (St. Joseph’s) and Kosko (Edinboro) — made college commitments on national signing day.

Also looking to make an impact this year are returning letter winners Carley O’Mara, a junior midfielder/defender; Ashleigh Manns, a junior goalie; Megan Krapp, a junior attacker; and Averie Moul, a sophomore midfielder/defender.

“Sydney Kosko and Ashleigh Manns are splitting time (as goalies) pretty equally,” Luzier said.

O’Mara offered a verbal commitment to continue her career at Seton Hill.

Three newcomers to the Bethel Park lineup are juniors Corrine Hewes (attack/defense), Amanda Lincoln (attack) and Katherine Tena (defense/attack).

Cunningham, Schultz, both Krapp sisters and O’Mara are co-captains.

“I have really high hopes for our team,” Cunningham said. “We have all been playing together since middle school, so our chemistry and communication is unmatched. We have such a great senior class and great underclassmen that are going to do great things in the future. We are working toward back-to-back section titles and hopefully a WPIAL title.”

“I personally want to develop my leadership skills further this season. I am not playing in college, so while I would love to improve in the game. I also want to make sure I get the most out of this season and continue to use what I learned from lacrosse in my future.”

Schultz said the Black Hawks have been showing progress since Day 1 and improving as a team.

“My expectations are higher than the previous years,” Schultz said. “We are in the best shape we have ever been in as a team and our skills just keep on improving. Our season has been really good so far.”

Bethel Park has posted wins against Moon (14-3), Canon-McMillan (13-7), Latrobe (17-4), Allderdice (21-1), Hempfield (20-3), Baldwin (19-0) and Penn Trafford (19-3) and lost to Peters Township (14-9), making the Black Hawks 6-1 in Section 1-3A and 7-1 overall.

“All of our games so far have been close, at least to start,” Luzier said, “and to see the way that players and different units on the field give and receive feedback and suggestions — it’s a point of pride for me as a coach. I want them to have ownership, to have autonomy and feel empowered to make decisions based on what they’re seeing, and it’s great to see that playing out game after game right now.”

Through April 17, the Black Hawks held a two-game lead over Mt. Lebanon in the section with Upper St. Clair and Canon-McMillan tied for third. Norwin was in fifth place.

“I’ve been pleased with the improvements we have shown each game,” Luzier said, “but this group is incredibly skilled, so that’s to be expected.

“It’s the continued improvement in their poise and individual player leadership that has me most excited and just confirms my belief that this really is the season this group has been working towards over the last few years.”

Bethel Park finished in a tie for first in Section 1-3A last season with Mt. Lebanon and USC.

The Black Hawks edged Moon, 13-12 in overtime, in the WPIAL first round before losing a 20-7 decision to Sewickley Academy.

Bethel Park finished 14-3 and outscored the opposition 297-106 in the regular season, averaging 19.8 goals per game.

Schultz (65 goals, 29 assists, 43 draw controls), Miller (53 goals, 30 assists, 98 DCs) and Tori Krapp (30 goals, 13 assists, 48 DCs) were offensive catalysts.

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