Oakland Catholic captures WPIAL Class AA girls lacrosse title

Thursday, May 23, 2019 | 9:46 PM

Natalie Cyterski was bloodied, battered and exhausted, but she wasn’t going to be denied.

The Oakland Catholic senior had to leave the game twice in the first half with a severe cut on her forehead and even had to switch jerseys because there was blood on hers, but she stayed tough and helped the Eagles end Hampton’s reign as girls lacrosse champions.

Cyterski scored four goals and added two assists, and Emily Coughlin scored five times to help top-seeded Oakland Catholic to a 15-12 win in the Class AA final Thursday at Robert Morris.

“It feels amazing. … I’ve been waiting for four years to win a WPIAL championship,” Cyterski said. “To finally win it with some of the most amazing teammates is all I could ask for.”

The Eagles finished the WPIAL season undefeated (15-0), and Hampton (17-4) was denied a third consecutive title.

After Hampton scored twice early, Oakland Catholic responded with five straight goals, including one by Cyterski. Then, on a faceoff she was clipped in the head and immediately sent to the sidelines with blood pouring down her face.

“I didn’t know how bad it was until I looked at the palm of my hand and there was blood all over it,” Cyterski said. “The trainers helped me a lot. There was blood all over my face and my hair. They had to get that all out, but I just wanted to get back into the game and help my teammates.”

Once she was patched up and switched from her No. 1 jersey to No. 30, Cyterski went back in and was knocked down a couple of times, and at one point her twin sister, Megan, an attacker for the Eagles, gave her a hug to calm her down. Cyterski had to exit the game again because she was bleeding late in the first half.

“We saw her holding her head and as she came closer it looked like Halloween blood was pouring out of her face,” first-year Oakland Catholic coach Katie Dacany said. “She was hysterical when we were patching her up, because she just really wanted to get back in there with her teammates. Once she got back in she was back to her old self.”

The Cyterskis are Coastal Carolina recruits. They left directly from the game to get ready for prom. Both joked that Natalie’s prom pictures will be more interesting with the cut on her forehead.

Oakland Catholic had an 8-6 halftime lead and immediately built on it after the break.

Cyterski scored twice and Coughlin and Ashley Sullivan had goals in the first six minutes of the second half to help Oakland Catholic pull out to a 12-6 advantage.

“Natalie is one of the most mentally tough kids,” Dacany said. “She’ll power through anything. She was dying out there during the game, and we asked her if she wanted to come off and she doesn’t even hear us because she’s so focused on her goals.”

Hampton went through a lot of adversity in its quest for a three-peat, like losing senior captain Melinda Maers, the third all-time leading scorer in program history, to an ACL injury in the preseason. The Talbots also had to score four goals in the final few minutes to comeback and beat Quaker Valley, 12-11, in the semifinals just to get in the championship.

Hampton made a late charge, cutting the deficit to two goals with six minutes remaining, but couldn’t pull off another magical ending.

“I thought it could end up like a Quaker Valley 2.0,” Hampton coach Kelsey Viets said. “The momentum swung in our favor. It was a matter of minutes, a matter of seconds. We just ran out of time.”

Ashley Sullivan (2), Megan Cyterski, Polly Farnsworth, Sophia Heaps and Molly Ayoob also scored goals for the Eagles. Katie Cyphers and Megan Cook had a hat trick apiece for Hampton, and Jillian Sennett, Abigail Schwartz, Sophia Kelly, Elizabeth Dolan, Abby Wolf and Nikita Corbelli scored one goal each.

Both teams advanced to the PIAA tournament, which begins Tuesday.

Check out an archived video stream broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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