North Hills girls lacrosse defines itself with defense

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Thursday, April 19, 2018 | 11:00 PM


In the harshly competitive Section 3-AAA, the North Hills girls lacrosse team has managed to battle and scrape its way to a 4-2 record and is poised to enter the WPIAL playoff hunt.

However, the first half of the season has had its fair share of drama: Four of the Indians' six contests have been decided by two or fewer goals. On the plus side, the experience the group has gained in those closely fought battles could come in handy during the final stretch.

“It gives them a little bit of confidence that they can squeak out a close game, fight down to the wire and come out on top in most of them,” coach James Cassandro said.

“I think it will help them when it comes down to the playoffs and the end of the season because I'm sure all of those games are going to be close ones.”

In the Indians' close victories, senior captain and attacker Michaela Sieber has helped engineer valuable possessions on offense. Another difference-maker has been center Julea Jamison, who offers a potent scoring touch and leads the team with 18 goals.

Cassandro said the offense behind Sieber and Jamison is a strong unit, but this is a team building its identity on its staunch defensive play. In half of their games, they have held their opponent to seven or fewer goals.

“It's a definite strength,” Cassandro said of his team's defense.

“This is my sixth year of coaching, and this is by far the best defense that I have coached. There are a lot of seniors down low on defense. We have a phenomenal goalie, too.”

The backbone of the Indians' ability to prevent goals has been junior goalie Maura Ruprecht, who has been minding net for the varsity team since her freshman season.

A trio of senior captains — Samantha Welsh, Sydney Lyden and Abbie Evans — has combined to create a formidable line of enforcers. Beyond their ability to affect the outcome of a single game, the three defenders have lead North Hills to a menacing mentality that helps it feel confident against any foe.

“I think that's why we've been doing so well on defense. These girls communicate well. They've all been playing together for several years. They're great defenders, and they have great communication skills,” Cassandro said.

“We feel like we can go into any game and hold opponents' scoring down. We feel like we can hold our own with anybody.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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