Mars downs Chartiers Valley to repeat as WPIAL Class 2A girls lacrosse champs

Thursday, May 23, 2024 | 7:48 PM

Two years ago, Mars lost in the WPIAL championship game to Chartiers Valley when the Colts captured their first title.

Last year, the Fightin’ Planets needed overtime against Blackhawk to win their second title.

This year, Mars got its revenge against Chartiers Valley, and didn’t need any extra time to do so, defeating the Colts, 14-6, to repeat as WPIAL Class 2A lacrosse champions.

“These girls have worked so, so hard, led by an incredible class of seniors, and it’s all paid off,” said Mars coach Abby Latona. “We knew it was going to take hard work to get to this moment, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Mars struck first 1:19 into the game when Mya Cote walked out from below the goal line and put the Planets up 1-0.

With less than a minute remaining in the quarter, the Colts scored in transition. Ava Warzinski found Juliana Betts to tie the game at 1-1.

But less than a half a minute later, McKenna Merritt found the net and Mars led 2-1 after the first quarter.

The Planets went ahead 3-1 early in the second quarter from a free position opportunity. Merritt took a step forward and found Cote cutting from the left side, and the St. Joesph recruit buried her second goal of the game.

Merritt said the pass to Cote was not a set play.

“I’ve been playing with her so long, that we just did that on the fly,” she said. “I knew that if I bounced it to her, I trusted that she would score.”

Latona continues to be impressed with her Division I recruit, who scored the game-winner in overtime last season.

“Mya is an elite player who loves the game,” Latona said. “She is great piece of our puzzle that worked great tonight.”

Merritt then tallied her second goal of the game less than a minute later and Mars extended the lead to 4-1.

“It’s been so fun,” Merritt said of the back-to-back championships. “I knew our senior class could do it. We’ve been best friends since freshman year, and we worked together, and I just knew we could put it together.”

Tess McGrath scored on another walk out on the goal line, and Mars built a 5-1 with 7:16 remaining in the half.

Megan Witte ended the Mars run at four goals. The junior started on the left wing, moved right and scored on a bounce shot to bring Chartiers Valley back within three.

The Planets went up 6-2 with just over two minutes remaining in the half, as Cote found a cutting McGrath for her second straight tally.

The Colts struck early in the third quarter, when Mallorie Lagamba took a feed from Betts and scored just 34 seconds in.

The sophomore McGrath completed her hat trick at the 2:15 mark, and Mars had a 7-3 lead. Her teammate Merritt added her hat trick goal off an assist from Anna Bowser to build the Planets lead to five goals.

Merrit continued the tear, netting her fourth goal of the game to make the score 9-3. Cote then scored her third goal of the game with 4:23 remaining in the third quarter as Mars continued to roll.

“McKenna had an incredible game tonight,” Latona said of her senior captain. “She dominated on the draw. That’s the thing about this senior class, they are a power class.”

Betts added her second goal for the Colts on a great individual effort late in the quarter when she scored on a breakaway after creating a turnover, making the score 10-4 heading into the final frame.

Freshman Hailey Long with a pair, Cote with her fourth and Kennedy Kolson scored goals in the fourth quarter for Mars.

Witte added her second goal of the game on a free position and Warzinski rounded out the scoring for the Colts.

Junior Ella Roach, who backstopped Mars to the title last season, made 10 saves to pick up the win.

Kaitlyn Kuczinski, a first team all-conference selection, made 15 saves in net for the Colts.

The win comes a day after Mars boys lacrosse team captured its eighth straight title.

Latona says there is a healthy competition going on between the two teams.

“We do a great job of supporting each other’s success,” she said. “They’re the standard here, and that’s exactly where we want it be for the girls as well.”

Both Mars (17-2-1) and Chartiers Valley (16-3) head to the PIAA tournament, which is set to begin June 4.

Tags: ,

More High School Lacrosse

Mars boys lacrosse falls to Marple Newtown in deja vu PIAA championship game
Optimism reigns after solid season for Hampton boys lacrosse
Already honored for soccer, Fox Chapel grad makes conference all-decade team in lacrosse too
What to watch for in WPIAL sports on June 15, 2024: Mars lacrosse, Shaler volleyball seek gold on last day of season
Mars boys lacrosse weathers early South Fayette storm, advances to 4th straight state title game