Chartiers Valley lacrosse beats odds to have memorable season

Saturday, July 3, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Overcoming great odds. It is the stuff of lore that has been the focus of many Hollywood scripts.

It also could be the theme for the 2021 Chartiers Valley boys lacrosse team.

What started as a season of major roster concerns ended with success in the regular season, the district postseason and the state playoffs.

“The odds were stacked against us from the beginning. We only had 12 kids when the season began, which is barely enough to field a team, and here we are now, almost five months later, as Section 1-AA champs, WPIAL runners-up and PIAA quarterfinalists,” Chartiers Valley coach Dom Tolomeo said. “No one expected us to do all of that this year except for ourselves. We knew what we were capable of, and we put in the work to make the dream a reality.

“Everything we got this year we had to go fight for it, and they did that. I watched a group of 16 young men come together and create a bond that was unbreakable. They believed in themselves. They worked hard and kept it first class all with a smile on their face every day. They wanted something, and they sacrificed every day to get it. They took it upon themselves to manifest their own destiny and let no one dictate what we were going to do with this season.”

The Chartiers Valley season began with a bang as the team won its first five games, including a big win in early April, 11-9 over South Fayette, a team that the Colts would tie for first place.

“We took nothing for granted,” Tolomeo said. “With the cancellation of the 2020 season and a large number of my guys being rising seniors that lost their junior season, they were determined to make something of this year. They brought intensity to practice and made each other better every time they stepped on the field. They busted their butts on the field, and off the field, we’d watch film and figure out our matchups. We played every game like we weren’t guaranteed a next one. No game was ever more important than the one in front of us.”

The Colts’ only section loss was a one-goal heartbreaker against traditional power Sewickley Academy, 12-11. In fact, there were a lot of perennial powers in Section 1-AA, making each victory a precious one.

“It definitely was not an easy thing to do,” Tolomeo said. “We played a lot of good lacrosse teams this year and were in a lot of hard-fought games. The game is continuing to grow out here, and you are seeing programs continue to evolve and get better. We knew that in order to put ourselves in the best possible position for the postseason, we needed to win our section, and we did just that. We dropped one to Sewickley Academy but stayed persistent and cleaned up our game moving forward to ensure that we would claim the Section 1 title.”

Chartiers Valley had three players earn first team all-section honors: Thomas Nomides, Jared Schweikert and Jake Troiani.

“Thomas was a midfielder that did it all for us,” Tolomeo said. “I told everyone the same thing about him: It didn’t matter who he was up against, I knew he had the biggest dog in the fight. On defense, Jared Schweikert was often tasked with locking off the opposing team’s best player, and Jake Troiani powered our offense and helped direct things from attack.”

Other standouts for the Colts included defenseman David Evangelista, midfielders Sam Pocci and Jackson Fodor and goalie Cammy Kyle.

As section champs, Chartiers Valley earned a first-round bye with the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. The Colts defeated Indiana by two goals and North Catholic by one to earn a berth in the finals.

“It was amazing, such a surreal experience to even be there,” Tolomeo said. “I went to two WPIAL championships as a player and was fortunate to return as a coach this year, and I can truthfully say that this one meant the most to me. We battled all season and earned the right to be playing on the biggest stage in WPIAL lacrosse.”

After falling to Mars in the finals, the Colts rallied from a 5-1 deficit to stun District 10 champion Cathedral Prep in the PIAA first round before falling to Bishop Shanahan in the state quarterfinals.

After such a memorable season, it will be tough for the Colts to surpass what they accomplished in Tomomeo’s first year. But he is excited to give it a shot.

“We lose a lot of seniors this year who did some tremendous things for us,” he said. “But with that being said, that makes next year even more exciting. It’s time to get back to work and see who is ready to step up into a bigger role next season. We have some younger players that stepped up for us this year, and I can’t wait to see they do next year. It will be a new looking team with the same work ethic and the same goal.”


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