Bethel Park girls lacrosse sees effort pay off with 1st section title in 9 years

Saturday, June 5, 2021 | 11:33 AM

What goes around comes around.

“The last time I won a section championship, one of my assistant coaches, Taylor Connors, was a senior on that team,” said Becky Luzier, Bethel Park’s girls lacrosse coach. “It was special to get to have this experience with her this year as a peer.”

The Black Hawks finished in a three-way tie for first in Section 1-3A along with rivals Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, all with 9-1 records.

It was the team’s first section championship since 2012.

“We set the goal early to add to our section champion banners in the school gym, and I know the girls were very proud of the accomplishment, as they should be,” Luzier said. “That along with a record number of wins is a great season to continue to build off with this junior class.

“We are a small program in the higher competitive division, and we are acutely aware of the challenges that presents us, namely roster size, but this group doesn’t accept that as a reason to keep them from achieving.”

The BP girls edged Moon, 13-12 in overtime, in the WPIAL first round before dropping a 20-7 decision to Sewickley Academy in the quarterfinals to finish 14-3 overall.

On the year, the Black Hawks were sparked offensively by junior midfielders Caitlyn Schultz (65 goals, 29 assists, 43 draw controls), Riley Miller (53 goals, 30 assists, 98 DCs) and Tori Krapp (30 goals, 13 assists, 48 DCs), along with senior attacker and third-year captain Lucia Coccagno (57 goals, 12 assists).

“Although I was disappointed with the outcome of the Sewickley playoff game, I’m proud of the effort that we put out on the field,” Krapp said. “I thought the talent on the team really showed when we needed it. It was exciting to clinch the section title. The team deserved it with all the hard work we put in.

“One of our biggest strengths was that many of the girls on the team have been playing together since elementary school. I felt this helped us to work well together and be able to read what each other was doing on the field. I always tried to work hard on and off the field.”

Krapp has a strong lacrosse acumen and is a focused team player. Luzier said it is like having another coach on the field when she is playing.

“Tori has been a draw specialist since her freshmen year, which is pretty impressive,” Luzier said. “She works so hard whether it’s practice or a game and leads by example always.

“She is coachable and motivated and a trusted advisor to the coaching staff. I always go to Tori if I need level-headed insight into what’s going on on the field in terms of team dynamics because she has such a heart for the team-first value at Bethel.”

Bethel Park outscored the opposition 297-106 during the regular season, averaging 19.8 goals per game. Schultz provided the game-winning score in OT against Moon.

A team leader on defense this spring was junior Chloe McDaniel, who averaged three caused turnovers and two interceptions each contest.

“Chloe is coachable, hard-working and driven,” Luzier said. “She’s a great communicator and an excellent teammate.”

Bethel Park’s defensive corps was anchored by the tandem of McDaniel and junior Megan Cunningham, in front of senior goalkeeper McKenna Moriarity.

“I believe our team’s overall performance this year was outstanding due to all the hard work we put in it,” McDaniel said, “and I feel it truly showed on the field, which made the game fun to play and watch.

“Our biggest strengths, in my opinion, would have to be our passing game and our aggressiveness. I’m thankful for how this season turned out. My teammates and I really showed how much we cared and love this sport, because we never once complained and still fought with all we had with a small roster.”

The Black Hawks hope to make another strong push for a section title in 2022, followed by a deep plunge into the postseason playoffs.

“My expectation is to see more of the same from this group,” Luzier said. “They are committed and hard-working, and I know they will be ready to put the offseason work in.

“I also hope to be able to field a JV team next year. This was the first time in my 20 years coaching in this league that I didn’t have enough kids for even a small JV roster. But I think we were all happy to get the season in, even if covid did make it look very different in many ways.”

Krapp is anticipating an influx of talented freshman athletes joining the squad next season, potentially replacing seniors Jade Fuccaro, Coccagno and Moriarity.

“Although I’m sad to see our three seniors graduate this year, I’m hopeful for the girls that will be coming up as freshmen,” Krapp said. “We are keeping the majority of girls we had this season, so that will help us again next year.”

Fuccaro was a reserve at the attack position for the Black Hawks. She began playing lacrosse just three years ago as a sophomore and lost her junior season due to covid precautions.

“Jade wasn’t a starter, but she became the leader of our bench,” Luzier said. “I was always so proud of the way I heard her explaining things to the younger players and making sure they were putting their best foot forward.

“I was so glad she finished her career out. She’s a great kid.”


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