Quaker Valley girls lacrosse aims for extended playoff run

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Friday, May 10, 2019 | 8:10 PM


Quaker Valley’s girls lacrosse team has been right on schedule with its goals this season.

The team went undefeated in Class AA competition to win its section and picked up wins against Class AAA playoff teams like Canon-McMillan, Bethel Park and Sewickley Academy.

“The main thing I’ve learned about this group is honestly how tenacious they are,” first-year coach Kristin Semones said. “When they put their mind to something they really go after it. They’ve worked so hard to get to where we’re at, and our (15-1) record reflects that.”

If there were anything to possibly worry about, it would be that the Quakers could overlook teams during the postseason. They were awarded the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

“We had 10-goal wins regularly this season, and it would be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security,” Semones said. “It’s easy to drop a couple passes in the midfield or not hit a cutter quite quick enough and start to think that might be good enough. The last couple games taught us that we have to work that much harder.”

A win on Monday over Blackhawk clinched the section title, but also was a reminder that it won’t be easy to achieve the next milestone, a WPIAL championship.

“Blackhawk was our reality check,” senior Gabriella Saladino said. “It showed us what playoffs will be like. I think we were taken aback early, but showed our grit and cohesiveness and kept our composure despite being down.”

Blackhawk took a 6-4 lead into halftime to put Quaker Valley into the unfamiliar position of playing from behind. The Quakers’ defense and goalie Alexa Otto responded by allowing one goal in the second half, and Quaker Valley’s attackers scored three times to force overtime.

The defense came through again after Quaker Valley lost the overtime draw and forced a turnover. The game-winning goal was scored within the next minute on a designed play.

Quaker Valley’s offense swept to one side of the field against Blackhawk’s zone defense. Attackers like senior Katherine Blaugrund and Saladino — they lead the team with more than 100 combined goals — drew defenders away from freshman Chase Kriebel, who drove to the net and scored.

“Everyone worked together for that final goal,” Semones said. “It just kind of happened to be a situation where everything lined up perfectly. We were able to catch them off balance for a split second, and once Chase drove down the middle of the field, I knew she was going to score.”

The game’s intensity should benefit Quaker Valley in the playoffs, according to Saladino.

“It was important for us to play in a game like that,” Saladino said. “We haven’t had too many close games since our only loss to Shady Side and our win against Mars in Week 1, so we’ve practiced hard to get our speed up to what we will face against playoff teams.”

The team’s goal, Saladino said, is to play every game like it’s the championship game, because they don’t want a repeat of last postseason.

“We know the feeling of being runner-up, and we never want to feel that again,” Saladino said. “We know we have to be prepared for every team, because they’re very talented, and we don’t want our dreams to be crushed just for misjudging another team. We’re cognizant of those teams, but we’re confident that we’ll do our best and hopefully go very far.”

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