Senior Spotlight: Seton LaSalle’s All-WPIAL goalie to start anew at Youngstown State

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020 | 7:53 PM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Youngstown State will play its first season of women’s lacrosse in 2021, and Mikaela Staranko is planning to be the Penguins’ last line of defense.

The Seton LaSalle senior goalie has signed to play next year at YSU, set to be an affiliate member of the Division I Mid-American Conference, which is sponsoring women’s lacrosse for the first time.

“I thought the coaches at Youngstown State seemed very welcoming and were concerned with not just lacrosse but also academics,” said Staranko, who has a 58% career save percentage for the Rebels. “I also thought it would be awesome to be a part of a brand new team and leave a legacy for many teams to come.”

Staranko leaves behind quite a legacy at Seton LaSalle. An All-WPIAL and all-section selection a year ago, she helped the Rebels reach the WPIAL Class AA semifinals last season.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the PIAA to cancel her senior season, but Staranko has made sure to reflect on the relationships she made through lacrosse.

“I’ve definitely just missed seeing my teammates and coaches every day at practice,” she said. “There is nothing like the bond our team has, and I’m truly going to miss it.”

How have you been keeping busy during the coronavirus pandemic?

I’ve taken this time to begin getting things ready for college, spend time with my family, clean my room, and bake a bunch of fun recipes I’ve found online.

Have you been doing any lacrosse activities?

I’ve been working out every day to make sure I’m staying in shape for my college season, working on my ball handling, and my family and I put a net up in my driveway so I can keep up with my skills.

If there was a lacrosse season, what were you hoping to accomplish personally and as a team?

Personally, I hoped to achieve my first shutout, and as a team I really thought we’d be able to secure a WPIAL championship this season.

How much practice time did you have before the shutdown?

We had one full week of mandatory practices and a scrimmage and were preparing for a scrimmage against Mt. Lebanon the following week.

What do you plan to study?

Biology with a pre-med track.

What do you like most about lacrosse?

My favorite thing about lacrosse is the type of people it attracts. I’ve played many different sports and been on multiple teams, but it’s nothing like the second family I’ve received from playing lacrosse.

What are some of your strengths on the field?

I think one of my biggest strengths on the field is being able to stay calm under pressure. I try to have a short memory and only worry about the next shot that’s in front of me, rather than what’s already happened.

What are some of the other activities you were involved with at Seton LaSalle?

I was on the varsity cheer team for four years and was co-captain this year. I also was involved in the environmental club, Junior Achievement, Rebels for Life, the ambassador program, the dance committee and was a member of the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society.

What was your reaction like when you found out you wouldn’t be returning to school this spring?

I was devastated that not only would I be unable to finish my last few months of high school, but also my last lacrosse season with my high school team. I was so excited to be able to help lead my team this year as a captain, and couldn’t comprehend that we may never all be on the field together again. This time has taught me to never take a single second on the field for granted because you really never know when it’s gonna be over.

What has been your favorite show to binge watch?

“Outer Banks.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to never be afraid to try new things and always dream big. I started lacrosse as a freshman, having no idea what it was. Little did I know the amazing friendships it would bring me, and how big of an impact it would have on my life. Four years ago I didn’t know what lacrosse was, and now I’m going to be playing D-1 lacrosse in college. You can do some crazy things when you put your mind to it.

Who would you like to hear give a commencement speech?

I’d love to hear my dad (Tim) give a commencement speech. He played football in college and has taught me how to work hard and fight for what I want. He always gives great advice and believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself, so I’d love to hear what he’d have to say.

If you could have dinner with any three celebrities, who would they be?

I would have dinner with Mia Hamm, Gabby Douglas and Megan Taylor, (who’s) not super famous but a lacrosse goalie, because they are inspirational female athletes that I’d love to get advice from.

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.

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