Plum girls lacrosse ready to take next step after trip to postseason

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Friday, March 29, 2019 | 8:11 PM


The Plum girls lacrosse team qualified for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs last year in only its second season as a full WPIAL member.

The Mustangs, as the No. 10 seed, fell to Quaker Valley, 13-3, ending a season full of accomplishments.

Now, the goal, second-year coach Kayla Platt said, is to return to the postseason and record that first playoff victory. With several key elements back from last year’s squad, the bar is set high.

“Going to the playoffs last year was a really big thing for the team,” said Platt, who saw her team finish 9-6 overall. “Quaker Valley is a very strong program with phenomenal athletes who have a lot of skill. They saw how much the level gets raised when you get to the playoffs. We want another chance, and hopefully we can get that first playoff win and keep building from there.”

Ten seniors, including several top contributors, were lost from last year’s team, and Platt said it created opportunities for a team with four seniors, seven juniors, seven sophomores and six freshmen.

“With losing those seniors, it left some shoes to fill,” Platt said. “A lot of underclassmen got the opportunity to play up and earn their spots on the field.”

Senior captains Sam Casile (midfield/attack) and Alexa Seigh (midfield) were two of the top scorers from last year.

Casile, a Washington & Jefferson commit, scored 41 goals and added 25 assists.

“We’ve gone from winning just one game in a season to making the playoffs last year,” Casile said. “We want this to keep building, and we hope the younger players on the team and the others in our youth program can have as much production as we have had in our four years. We can’t wait to see where this season goes, and also what the future of the program holds.”

Platt said she wanted her relatively young team to face some strong nonsection competition in the first week leading into section play, and Plum jumped into action with matchups against North Catholic, Mars and Blackhawk.

Despite losses in all three, Platt said the team was able to work on a lot of things in game action and find out a lot about where everyone fits in the lineup.

“I knew these games would be high level and aggressive and would prepare them well. I hope they are able to take something positive away from each game,” Platt said. “It’s an eye-opener, especially the younger and newer players, to see how fast-paced the game is.”

Plum was slated to kick off Section 1-AA play Monday against Greensburg Central Catholic. The game was to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.

“All three are great caliber teams,” Seigh said. “Win or lose, it sets the tempo for the rest of the season and gets our momentum going for section play.”

Offensive production this season also is expected to come from the likes of returning juniors in Carli Chini (midfield), Amari Bunch (midfield), Jenna Montgomery (midfield/attack) and Katie Patton (midfield).

Chini scored 20 goals last spring.

The defense was hit hard by graduation, but junior Danielle Taylor, a third-year starter at goaltender, is back. She made 146 saves last year, an average of 9.7 a game.

“Defense is probably one of the hardest positions for players to pick up on, and they have to keep her protected,” Platt said. “Communication is crucial, and Danielle is great with that from making sure the slides and crashes are on point. I refer to her being the biggest leader on defense because it all starts and ends with her.”

Platt said the competition to get on the field in varsity games has been fierce, and the game-to-game lineup — starters and reserves — are not entirely set in stone.

“We have players who have started for three or four years and others who are new to the game who just picked up a stick for the first time,” Platt said. “We want everyone to sharpen their skills, focus on the fundamentals and keep learning the game.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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