Franklin Regional girls lacrosse players earn postseason honors

Friday, June 8, 2018 | 11:30 PM

When a team with high aspirations is mounting a playoff run, announcing all-section and All-WPIAL honors can go one of two ways — boost a team's confidence or fracture a team's focus.

Franklin Regional girls lacrosse coach Makenzie McGuire leaned toward keeping her Panthers focused and waited not one, but two weeks before announcing which players earned the honors.

“I waited two weeks before I told the girls,” said McGuire, who just finished up her first season coaching her alma mater. “This was really weird (because), as a player, all-section and All-WPIAL was a huge deal. I had to explain to my two girls who got it what it was, and that it's a really big deal.”

Senior midfielder Angie Giannangeli and sophomore midfielder Noelle Boyd both earned All-Section 1 and All-WPIAL Class AA honors following the end of the regular season. Senior attacker/midfielder Francesca Giacchino's final season as a Panther didn't go unnoticed, as she also was named to the all-section team.

Boyd got the word after practice. The second-leading scorer on the team with 53 goals, she was called over by her coaches for a short meeting when she was told that she was named to the all-section team.

“I thought they were going to tell me to stop goofing off at practice and start taking it serious,” joked Boyd. “I walked over to them on the field and they said, ‘Hey, you got all-section' and I said, ‘What's that?'”

McGuire praised Boyd's motor on the field. She said Boyd plays the game so fast and with such passion that she really doesn't comprehend how good she really is.

“Noelle goes off, has a natural athletic ability, and just goes,” McGuire said. “I don't think that she even knows when three or four girls are working her.”

It was all part of McGuire's grand plan to finally announce who earned all-WPIAL honors, and she waited for just the right time to spread the word. After a stunning overtime loss to Quaker Valley in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals, Giannangeli pulled into her garage and sat in the car for a while before a text message came over her phone.

“I was just a mess and I got a screenshot of the All-WPIAL's girls team, and it completely turned my mood around,” said Giannangeli, who will attend West Virginia this fall and play club lacrosse for the Mountaineers. “After I made all-section, I actually forgot about the WPIAL (loss). I was really happy to make (all-WPIAL) with Noelle, because she's like a little sister to me.”

For a senior who had her final playing days at Franklin Regional staring at her in the face, the All-WPIAL honors helped ease the sting of the semifinal loss and helped her refocus for Mars in the third-place game with a trip to states on the line.

“One of our biggest goals this season from the start, especially us older girls, was make it a step further than we did last year,” said Giannangeli, who finished with 44 goals this season.

The Panthers went on to beat Mars, 13-8, and advance to play District 3 champ Hershey in the first round of the PIAA tournament. The Panthers fell to Hershey,14-6, making the ride from the eastern part of the state back to Murrysville a long one.

“After the bus dropped us off in the parking lot, we talked for like an hour,” Giannangeli said. “We were really happy to make it there but losing the states game wasn't as hard as being done with the season.”

McGuire said along with her physical style of play, Giacchino's next greatest asset was getting into the heads of opposing goalkeepers. On top of her 30 goals, Giacchino's ability to get a shot off in tight space didn't go unnoticed by opposing coaches who voted for her.

“She plays the low-attack spot,” McGuire said. “She's good at transitions up, with that last pass and getting that shot off. She's able to finish and get some points. Her biggest strength is getting into the goalkeepers' heads.”

Noticeably missing from the list of all-section and All-WPIAL selections was sophomore Christiana Hodowanec, who led the Panthers with 59 goals this season. Hodowanec and Boyd combined to score 44 percent of Franklin Regional's goals this season.

“I really think yellow cards might have affected it,” Hodowanec said. “I consider myself to be a pretty aggressive player.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.


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