Talented group of seniors leads dangerous attack for Sewickley Academy girls lacrosse

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Sunday, May 12, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Kendall Sykes is a talented, multiple-sport athlete at Sewickley Academy.

The 5-foot-7 Sykes is a senior attacker on the Sewickley girls lacrosse team and one of the leading players in the WPIAL Class 3A ranks. She averages five goals per game.

A fourth-year varsity player and Chapman (Calif.) University commit, Sykes attained her 100th career goal in 2023 in a section match against Peters Township.

“Kendall has a high lacrosse IQ,” Sewickley coach Ali Grenert said. “She is patient. She scans the defense, sizes up her mark and plans her attack. She knows exactly when and how to cut.

“Kendall catches and shoots in traffic. Even when she is marked tightly, Kendall uses her height to her advantage, catching and shooting above the defenders’ heads. She has the hardest shot on the team, shooting and scoring from the 8-meter arch without hesitation. Kendall’s shot is not only powerful but accurate. She hits the corners of the net with ease.”

This year, Sykes, who serves as a co-captain, ranked second on the team in scoring with 29 goals through the month of April.

“Kendall is our most dangerous attack player,” Grenert said. “Kendall doesn’t just score, she buries the ball in the back of the net. Her height combined with her speed make her a very dangerous player on attack as well as in the midfield.

“She has become integral to our midfield transition, functioning as a link between the defensive third and the attacking third of the field. Kendall is performing at the top of her game this season. She is a very exciting player to watch.”

Libby Eannarino and Sykes rank one-two in scoring for the Panthers.

“Kendall is our leader on attack,” Eannarino said, “and she does an awesome job helping to lead the offense and the underclassmen on attack.”

Sykes joined the Sewickley girls tennis program this year and has participated in soccer and basketball in her athletic career.

“I believe the girls lacrosse team has grown so much this season,” Sykes said. “We gained five talented freshmen but needed to learn how to play as a unit. I have high hopes for the rest of the season; I hope we can advance to the playoffs.

“Mike Scerbo, the new athletic director (at SA), has an incredibly experienced background coaching women’s lacrosse and has been a huge help this season.”

Sykes has been competing in lacrosse for most of her life; she began playing the sport in first grade. From fourth to seventh grade, she competed for True Lacrosse and continued to play for PPLC until last year.

“I simply love the game,” she said. “It is extremely satisfying for me to succeed in this sport, which has fueled my desire to keep playing. I especially enjoy being a part of a team and creating plays that can involve everyone on the field. I love, love, love to score, as well.”

Sykes has recovered from an ACL tear she suffered in her freshman year; she had a second surgery as a junior.

“Lacrosse, along with the challenges and successes it brings, has made me a stronger person,” she said. “I have learned to be more patient, motivated and determined. Personally, my season has been super successful.

“Next year, I will attend Chapman University in Orange County, Calif., to study business marketing and entrepreneurship. I also plan to walk on their women’s lacrosse team.”

Off the field, Sykes serves as president of the fashion club and business book club at her school. She also has been involved in House Summit, a student life organization.

Some of the other skilled athletes at Sewickley in 2024 include fourth-year players Cait Donohue and Claudia Kronk who, along with Sykes, Eannarino and Ashley Close, provide valuable senior leadership for the Panthers.

“I have loved playing with my fellow seniors and captains, Libby and Ashley,” Sykes said. “Libby and I have a lot of chemistry on the offensive side, and it’s been so fun getting to play with her. Ashley and I have also played lacrosse forever, and our bond on the field is incredibly strong. Claudia and Cait are amazing defenders.”

Donohue is listed as a forward but can play any position for the Panthers.

“Cait seemingly glides past the opposing team when she has the ball,” Grenert said, “and dances her way through double and triple teams in the midfield. She is a leader both on and off the field.

“She excels academically and is extremely outgoing, funny, caring and team oriented, always looking out for and including her teammates.”

Sewickley’s coach praised Donohue for her selfless attitude at practice and in games.

“Cait plays all over the field,” Grenert said. “She excels at defense, at midfield and attack. She is graceful on attack and can dance around two or three defenders. She’s a true team player, supporting and cheering on her teammates, and has a great attitude. She invested in the team during the offseason.”

Donohue has received multiple college offers but hasn’t decided which one to attend.

Kronk, who plans to attend Duke in the fall, helps anchor the Sewickley defense.

“Claudia is very focused when out on the field. She is one of our best defenders,” Grenert said. “She always knows where the ball is and where her mark is. She marks the opposing team’s best attacker, as she is fast as lightning and tough as nails.

“On transitions, Claudia weaves her way down the field, in and out of traffic. On defense, she uses her footwork and her speed to keep her opponent outside the critical scoring area. Claudia is always in position, ready and waiting for her opponent to make a move.”

Kronk is dedicated to community service and has created her own food pantry for people in need.

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