Longtime girls lacrosse coach helps game grow at Bethel Park

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Sunday, July 25, 2021 | 8:01 AM


It’s a baker’s dozen for Bethel Park coach Becky Luzier.

No, Luzier’s not a chef. She has been in charge of the Bethel Park girls lacrosse program for 13 years.

And while not a culinary artist, Luzier has cooked up the necessary ingredients for a winning recipe in her tenure with the Black Hawks.

Luzier’s coaching career actually began in 2002 while in college at West Virginia.

“I’m originally from New Jersey, but lacrosse came late for me and I first picked up a stick in high school after playing other sports. I fell in love instantly,” Luzier said. “I began coaching my freshman year at WVU when a local high school team was looking for a varsity assistant and back then, there were only two teams in the state of West Virginia, both in Morgantown.

“We belonged to a private league (WPSLA) that operated out of western Pennsylvania back before the WPIAL picked up girls lacrosse. So our home and away games were in Pittsburgh or against Pittsburgh-based teams.”

Luzier was involved in that program for seven years while earning a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, then was hired at Bethel Park when she moved to Pittsburgh with her husband, Cliff, in 2008.

“Sometimes it’s really crazy to think I’ve been coaching girls lacrosse in western Pennsylvania for 20 years,” Luzier said. “I feel incredibly blessed to have found Bethel Park when I moved here and to have had such a positive experience in this community, not just as a coach but as a resident.

“Bethel Park people are truly special, and I do believe that I have the privilege of coaching in the best district to be coaching in western Pennsylvania. I cannot imagine being anywhere else and being this happy and satisfied, fulfilled and supported.”

The 38-year old Luzier, a die-hard WVU sports fan, may have been a late bloomer in lacrosse, but she is fully immersed in the sport nowadays.

Luzier owns Winner’s Edge Lacrosse, which offers camps, clinics, tournaments and indoor leagues, and is director of the Intrepid Girls Lacrosse Club, where the travel programs have expanded under her leadership.

“The two combine to be the largest offseason lacrosse provider in the region,” Luzier said, “serving female lacrosse players in southwest Pennsylvania as well as north-central West Virginia.”

At Bethel Park, the veteran field boss has coached 35 all-section, 18 All-WPIAL and three All-American players and has seen numerous girls advance their careers at the college level.

Luzier is most proud of the 16 alums who have gone on to coach and give back to the game, including BP assistants Taylor Connors and Lauren Petronie, both 2012 graduates, and Marisa Petraglia (2009), Lauren Prough (2011) and Kelly Gastgeb (2013), who have coached in the middle school program.

Luzier’s teams at Bethel Park have gone 119-78, qualified for the playoffs nine times in 12 possible seasons and won two section championships.

The Black Hawks, led offensively by junior midfielders Caitlyn Schultz, Riley Miller and Tori Krapp and senior attacker Lucia Coccagno, finished in a three-way tie for first in Section 1-3A this spring.

“Caitlyn Schultz became our third All-American in program history,” Luzier said, “and it was the first time a junior was a recipient.”

The defensive corps was anchored by the junior tandem of Chloe McDaniel and Megan Cunningham, in front of senior goalkeeper McKenna Moriarity.

Bethel Park edged Moon, 13-12, on a game-winning goal by Schultz in overtime in the WPIAL first round. The Black Hawks ended up 14-3, setting a school record for wins in a season.

Going back to 2018, Luzier was honored as a Bethel Park Citizen of the Year for her work as a municipality-wide relief coordinator in response to the June flooding in the community.

“I was not raised here, but this place has truly become my home. And that is one of the things that compelled me to get involved in the flood relief,” Luzier said. “That was a great experience, even though it came during a really challenging time because it allowed me to meet more people and see the resiliency that exists in this community.

“We heard from neighboring districts and municipalities that they were just not seeing the same kind of grassroots and neighborly support and action we were watching unfold here.”

A year later, the Bethel Park girls put together what was then the best season in program history, followed by the covid-19 eliminated season.

“We were 12-6 in 2019 which was, at that time, our most wins and our first second-round playoff appearance since we moved up to the higher division,” Luzier said. “For us as an organization, we felt the 2019 season might be the start of a three-year run at title games.

“For me personally, it was very difficult to not have a senior season with our 2020 class. They were some of the most dedicated leaders I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. Many of them had put in a lot of work at different positions, always playing where the team needed them. It’s sad they didn’t get to see that all the way through to their senior year.”

Nonetheless, Luzier, always the coach looking to utilize a teaching tool, believes the 2020 campaign was a learning experience for her players.

“Our program practices a lot of mindfulness, and we put a lot of effort into strengthening our mental game,” she said, “so there is also a sense of gratitude that each day we get to be together out on the field is a gift because we know what it’s like now to not have something that seems so guaranteed.”

It appears the Black Hawks are well-stocked to make a strong push for another section crown next season, along with an extended playoff performance.

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

Schultz has been a varsity starter at Bethel Park since her freshman year and has played lacrosse since the fifth grade. She has received All-American, All-WPIAL and first-team all-section accolades in her career.

In the summer months, the 5-foot-7 midfielder competes for True Midwest 2022 with trips to Maryland and Massachusetts on this year’s schedule.

Schultz also swims for the Black Hawks, participates in several other extracurricular activities and owns a 4.1 GPA.

“I can’t wait to see how next season goes,” she said. “We have been playing together for a while and everyone works well together.

“My expectations are that we start out strong and we get to the WPIAL semifinal or final.”

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