Veteran Latrobe field hockey team wants title game return

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021 | 3:40 PM


Latrobe field hockey coach Jeff Giordan has goals for his players, in athletics and in life. And he uses the game to blend the two.

The Wildcats are coming off a respectable season, going 6-4 in the regular season and reaching the WPIAL Class AA semifinals, losing 2-0 to Fox Chapel.

Giordan was most pleased with the participation in 2020, having about 36 players involved with the team despite numerous covid-19 restrictions.

“Losing in the semifinals was not ideally how we wanted to end our season,” he said.

“But just to get to that point with everything that went on last year, it was a testament to the dedication of the kids.”

Gone are two key members from last season’s team, All-WPIAL picks in defender Cece Daniele and forward Lauren Jones, who is playing at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

Only six nonseniors made the All-WPIAL AA Team, and Latrobe has one of them in junior Josie Straigis.

“She just wants to play all day, and she can play all day,” Giordan said. “I have a hard time pulling her off. She’s a competitor, and she wants to be out there. She’s tall, rangy and she hustles. She gives us a big advantage as a center midfielder.”

Jenna Mucci and Lauren Noonan join Straigis in the midfield.

“Jenna is by far the fastest kid we have,” Giordan added. “She’s a senior this year, so I know she’s been working extra hard to get those stick skills to match that speed. I’m excited to see how she performs.”

Latrobe, which has 35 players on the roster, including 17 juniors and 11 seniors, will be paced up front by Lauren Sapp and Alexa Jogun.

Taylor Desko, who is a forward on the Wildcats’ girls lacrosse team, plays on the back line for the field hockey squad.

“She wants to be a really good player,” said Giordan, who knows lacrosse well, having had a decorated career in the sport at Saint Vincent in the early 1990s.

Latrobe lost both of its goalkeepers from 2020 and will rely on senior Valentina Rossi to anchor that position.

“She was doing JV last year, and this is her time to shine,” Giordan said. “We’ll see how she plays up on the big stage, as a senior. She’s worked on her game.”

Giordan hopes that Latrobe can play a more team-oriented game in 2021 and that it will help it return to the WPIAL Class AA finals, where it finished runner-up in 2018 and ’19.

In the way of bringing home the school’s first WPIAL title is five-time defending Class AA champion Penn-Trafford as well as a Fox Chapel program that won three Class AAA titles between 2012-16.

Giordan admits that field hockey in Western Pennsylvania is not nearly as strong as it is in some of the Eastern parts of the state and, because of that, he knows the experience in the sport for nearly all of the girls on his roster will not go beyond the high school level. And that heavily persuades his coaching philosophy.

“It’s all about trying to parallel what we do here with what we do in life,” he said. “You have to hustle to get things done. If you make a bad pass, you have to hustle to get that ball back. If you make a mistake at work, you have to do your best to make up for that mistake.

“Life doesn’t give you anything. You have to go and get things. The way the ball bounces sometimes, that’s a true thing with what life is.”

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