Shady Side Academy boys lacrosse gets off to hot start

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Saturday, May 1, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Two years ago, Shady Side Academy made a run to the WPIAL Class AAA boys lacrosse semifinals and despite only returning two starters from that year’s team, the Bulldogs are picking up right where they left off.

Shady Side is 8-2 with an undefeated section record of 5-0 and has turned in big wins over Mt. Lebanon (13-12 in overtime), Bethel Park and Latrobe. The Bulldogs’ only losses were against Kiski School and Trinity from Camp Hill, which has a solid program each year.

Coach Cam Thompson believes the leadership of his team has been crucial to the hot start, especially his two captains.

Jack Todd, a senior midfielder and Washington and Lee recruit, has tallied 17 goals with 28 assists. Thompson Lau, a junior long-stick midfielder, has tallied 76 ground balls and caused 43 turnovers.

Young players have stepped up as well. Freshman Nick Anderson has stepped into the goal, and sophomores JP Henry and Ethan Salvia have been key players on the attack.

Salvia, a midfielder, leads the team with 55 points on 34 goals and 21 assists, and Henry has 41 goals and eight assists as an attackman.

“Even with a big 10-person senior class we’ve had a lot of young kids step up and play huge roles this season,” Thompson said. “We have a freshman starting in goal, we’re starting two sophomores on the offensive end of the field and even our juniors that are starting didn’t play much as freshmen and now they are being kind of thrown into the mix and they are playing some serious minutes against some tough competition.

“They haven’t really blinked either; they’ve been up to the challenge and they’ve wanted to take it on.”

Despite the inexperience, the Bulldogs have been scoring around 16 goals per game while only giving up an average of eight.

With a young squad, sometimes there are growing pains but so far this season the young players are answering the call. Although they may be exceeding some expectations, Thompson believes his team is right where it is supposed to be.

“We have a very high standard for our program and what we expect our guys to do and be prepared to do, and I think we’ve probably grown up faster than we would’ve expected. But our expectation was always to compete to win the section and to compete for a WPIAL championship,” Thompson said. “I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Our plan is to be in the mix every single year, and this year isn’t going to be any different.”

Although they are in a good spot, there is always room for improvement, especially with a young team. Thompson is looking for his squad to improve in the game management aspect as they head down the stretch run.

“In a close game or as we get down into the playoffs, I think some of our younger players need to begin to understand more of the game management aspect and when it’s appropriate for us to play fast and pick up tempo or when it’s time for us to slow things down,” Thompson said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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