Bethel Park girls lacrosse trending in championship direction

Saturday, May 1, 2021 | 11:01 AM

The Bethel Park girls lacrosse team has all the makings of a powerhouse unit.

Through 10 games, the Black Hawks were 10-0, 7-0 in league play, with 195-38 overall scoring advantage — a differential of a 157 goals.

“So far, we have done everything I knew we were capable of,” coach Becky Luzier said. “The majority of our starting lineup would have returned last year from the 2019 season, and although we graduated some key players in the 2020 class, the core that led us to our greatest season in team history in 2019 returns now as juniors this season.

“The sky truly is the limit for this group. They are passionate, focused and play hard on every single play no matter what the scoreboard says. That is a coach’s dream. As we prepare to enter the toughest part of our schedule, I know they are ready to compete at a high level.”

The Black Hawks netted 20 or more goals five times in their first 10 contests and averaged 19.5 goals per game while allowing just 3.8 goals per game.

Their wins came against Hampton (18-2), Moon (16-4), Canon-McMillan (20-4), Latrobe (20-3), Allderdice (26-0), Hempfield (27-3), Penn-Trafford (22-1), Peters Township (15-7), Upper St. Clair (13-12) and Baldwin (18-2).

“I’m really happy to be out on the field with my kids every day,” Luzier said. “This is a really, really special group. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a group that is so motivated and focused and has such a strong desire to win as a team from one end of the field to the other.

“Usually you get that in parts at any given time, but it’s so rare to have every single kid on the roster growing in the same direction every day with no ego or focus on being self-involved. They just want to win and win together, and whatever that formula looks like any given day, they go with it.

“We don’t have a JV team, and it’s the first time in my 20-year career that I haven’t had a JV roster. The fact that we are doing what we are doing with just 19 players is remarkable and a nod to the quality of student-athlete that Bethel Park produces.”

Among the many integral players on this year’s squad are senior attacker Lucia Coccagno, junior midfielders Tori Krapp, Caitlyn Schultz and Riley Miller and junior defender Chloe McDaniel.

Coccagno, Krapp and Schultz are co-captains. Coccagno is serving as a third-year varsity captain.

“Lucia is a vocal and inspirational leader,” Luzier said. “She has great speed, strength and scale and is a true extension of the coaching staff as a three-year captain.”

Coccagno has played lacrosse for 10 years and also competed in volleyball at Bethel Park. She is president of the student government and homecoming committee and a state officer for DECA (business club).

She has a 4.34 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society, German Club, German National Honor Society, Teen Leadership Corps and Ways ‘n Means prom committee.

“I am very proud of how the team puts in so much effort every day at practice. I really think that’s what helps us win games,” Coccagno said. “After getting our season canceled last year, no one really knew what to expect. We graduated a strong class last year, and we were unsure about what talent we had coming in.”

“Although I was a little nervous at the beginning of the season about our depth, I really think we have overcome so many problems to get to where we are today.”

Coccagno, who is a Girl Scout, plans to attend South Carolina to study international business with a minor in German.

“This is my last year in the program (at Bethel Park),” she said. “I have so much faith in this group of girls to help us come out with a record-breaking season.”

Bethel Park’s veteran field boss also talked about the attributes of the three junior midfielders, Krapp, Schultz and Miller.

“Tori is a draw control specialist starting all the way back in her freshman year,” Luzier said. “She’s very smart, focused and drives well to the goal and always sees plays developing ahead of time.

“Caitlyn also take the draw. She’s a true triple threat in a game due to her work ethic and athletic ability. She’s coachable and positive on and off the field. She’s a bit of a spark plug because of the tenacious way she plays.”

Miller is a Division I recruit who has committed to St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia in the Atlantic 10 Conference. She is leaning toward majoring in business/accounting.

“My club lacrosse team (HHH) is based out of Philly, so I spend a lot of time out east playing lacrosse,” Miller said. “I really liked the coaching staff at St. Joe’s and the size of the school and proximity to home. I’m excited about playing in the A-10.”

Miller is a dynamic athletic talent, competing in several sports. She has played lacrosse for nine years, beginning with her first youth clinic and first game while in the second grade.

“I picked up golf during quarantine and joined the high school team this year,” Miller said. “I am also on the (girls) basketball team and have been playing since second grade. I played ice hockey for eight years but gave it up when I moved on to high school because I wanted to play for the basketball team.”

Miller also is a member of the National Honor Society and student government at Bethel Park.

“Riley is very well-rounded and another midfielder who can take the draw,” Luzier said. “She’s a skilled sharpshooter on offense and creates turnovers in the midfield. Riley is a more quiet leader, but the way she plays the game is how it’s meant to be played on so many levels, and she is a great example to our younger players.”

McDaniel anchors the Black Hawks’ strong defensive corps.

“Defenders don’t usually get much attention,” Luzier said, “but Chloe works hard on both sides of the ball and truly is one of the best defenders I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach. She is focused and attentive on the game and practice field.”

The team’s fourth captain is Megan Cunningham, a junior defender. Cunningham suffered a knee injury in the first regular-season game; she was expected to be back with the Black Hawks last week.

Senior McKenna Moriarity, junior Sydney Kosko and sophomore Ashleigh Manns are the BP goalkeepers.

“We have three very talented keepers who have been sharing time pretty equally,” Luzier said, “but we look to McKenna and her senior leadership in big games.”

Rounding out the squad are Jade Fuccaro, a senior attacker, junior attackers Ella Stewart and Maddie Walters, sophomore attackers Megan Krapp and Amanda Lincoln, junior defender Kaitlyn Wiard, sophomore attack/defender Corrine Hewes, sophomore midfielder/defender Carley O’Mara, sophomore defender/attacker Katherine Tena and top freshman Averie Moul, a midfielder/defender.

Bethel Park was ranked No. 5 in Pennsylvania.

“What is different about our team more than any other team in the area is not our talent but our teamwork,” Coccagno said. “We all get along so well and have no drama. We all want the best for each other and aren’t afraid to hold each other accountable.”

Miller has high hopes for the Black Hawks, who registered a big victory April 27 at USC. Miller netted the game-winning goal.

“After missing the 2020 season, it’s great to be back playing with my high school team and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish this season,” Miller said. “Our goal is always to win a section championship, and we would like to compete for a WPIAL title. We have done what we’ve needed to do so far.”


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