Shaler lacrosse team grinds through section play
Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 6:11 PM
Ryan Shank doesn’t spend time thinking about being exhausted after Shaler lacrosse matches.
Without a deep roster, the Titans’ veterans play long minutes. Shank, a senior defenseman, is no different in that respect.
What all Shaler players have developed is an ironman approach.
“It’s about having the mentality,” Shank said. “We have have to focus on our own play, and we have to understand the season is going to be a grind. If we are tired, we don’t have another man to step up. You have to put everything you have into everything you do. … It’s as simple as going hard on every play.”
Fortunately for Shaler’s WPIAL playoff hopes, the schedule has provided a reprieve. After dropping their Section 2-AAA opener 18-3 to North Allegheny last Tuesday, the Titans only had to play one section match in the next 16 days. Shaler’s match against Fox Chapel on Tuesday was too late for this edition.
“It gives us an opportunity to break down film and see what we are doing wrong,” Titans coach Bill Wightman said. “Since we played North Allegheny, it gives us a chance to see if there are things we should add to our team or do things different ways, which is nice. … Our varsity kids are dead after games. It gives us a break to recuperate.”
Shaler (0-4, 0-1) has had several near-misses. The Titans lost 7-6 in overtime to Latrobe in the season opener before dropping nonsection matches to North Hills and Moon.
“I think it’s important to focus on the small things forcing us to struggle,” Shank said. “We have been making passes we shouldn’t and giving up a lot of fast breaks. If we can fix small things, our whole season could be changed by a couple of small factors.”
One of Wightman’s big changes has been focusing on getting more motion in the offense. Against North Hills, the Titans showed their diversity, having seven players score in a 10-7 loss.
Tyler Fedak has a team-high six goals. Zane Kissel and Steven Albright also have become key contributors on offense.
If the scoring continues, Wightman likes Shaler’s chances to qualify for the playoffs once section action continues.
“The biggest challenge is to make sure they are constantly doing the rotation,” Wightman said. “It is a simple rotation, (but) there is a lot of nuance to it. We will stop them and give them ideas of where to cut through and find openings during practice. We want to build their lacrosse IQ to where everything feels like it’s second nature.”