Chemistry helps North Allegheny girls lacrosse clinch WPIAL playoff berth

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Thursday, May 9, 2019 | 7:14 PM


The North Allegheny girls lacrosse team found the right recipe to capture four of its final five games and earn a spot in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

Senior midfielder Paige Jones attributed the surge to chemistry.

Italian food helped bring the Tigers together before the season started.

“We had a lot of practices in the preseason, and we all stayed connected,” Jones said. “We’ve done pasta dinners and all hung out. It’s awesome.”

Presented with a win-and-you’re-in scenario against North Hills, the Tigers came away with a 16-12 win to eliminate their rivals from the playoffs. North Allegheny (9-6, 7-4) clinched the program’s fifth playoff appearance and second in the past three seasons.

“They’ve been fantastic,” Tigers coach Harry Datz said. “In my four years, this is the tightest I’ve seen the team. I think they really see a want that they are all reaching for. It was the seniors who are leaving this team in a much better position than it was in four years ago.”

Jones netted four goals and collected five groundballs in the win. Sophomore Sky DePrado tied Jones for a team-high with four goals, while Makenna Tuman had a team-high 10 ground balls.

“Our approach going into the game was to stay clean with passes,” Jones said. “We wanted to move the ball around early and get ahead. Our freshman goalie (Amelia Henderson) played really well.”

In the previous game, The Tigers had to rally from being down 6-1 to Seneca Valley before scoring a 14-12 victory. Late in the season, Datz wanted to make sure the team was taking care of the ball.

When North Allegheny struggled during the year, it was because they were inconsistent with passing.

“They played a controlled game,” Datz said about the game against the Indians. “Discipline has been something we’ve focused on, especially with our passing against North Hills. We wanted to go into that game disciplined and methodical. That’s something we focused on the last couple weeks, knowing it would be tight to get into the playoffs.”

North Allegheny had two nonsection games against Ellis School and Hempfield before starting the postseason that were too late for this edition.

The Tigers are heading to the postseason seeking their second-ever playoff win.

“We’re all going to have to play our best game and be aggressive,” Jones said. “We have to move the ball around on offense and take good shots. We need to avoid fouling and trust each other.”

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