Young Sewickley Academy girls lacrosse team finds balance

Friday, May 4, 2018 | 11:00 PM

Sewickley Academy's girls lacrosse team is loaded with a large freshman class.

The varsity inexperience hasn't been a hindrance for the Panthers, though. Getting contributions from the 10 new players, four seniors, three juniors and two sophomores, Sewickley Academy built an 11-3 record through its first 14 games.

“We're a very young team. It has been interesting, from a coaching perspective, because you really get to teach and watch them learn and grow. We have a lot of natural talent at all levels, which is nice,” Sewickley Academy coach Chelsea Cameron said. “This year has been about focusing on improving their lacrosse IQ and learning to operate as a unit. It's not about individual players. It's about growing as a team. We're focusing on details and paying attention to the little things, but, overall, we're playing together as a unit.”

Cameron is in her first year as head coach after spending last year as an assistant. Megan Wolfgang, a 2017 Robert Morris graduate who played lacrosse, is the assistant coach.

“One great emphasis of our athletics office is to focus on staff and not individual coaches,” she said. “Megan Wolfgang is an excellent assistant coach. We work together with our own strengths and focus on individual areas. I am more offensive minded and she is more defensive minded. We are able to talk through strategies, and we work really well together as a unit.”

Quickness is one of Sewickley Academy's strengths.

“We take advantage of a lot of fast-break opportunities because we have good speed,” Cameron said. “We can score quickly, especially off draws.”

Senior Antoinette Heil and junior Sydney Larson are experienced players leading the offense.

“The two of them have been our leadership voices on the attack side of the field,” Cameron said.

Freshmen midfielders Elsa Gordon and Emma DiSantis and classmates Madison Recker, Ellie Zack and Ellie Hughes have helped the offense, too.

“Elsa and Emma are young, but making an impact. Madison Recker has been putting up good numbers and the two Ellies have been best friends since birth. They set up each other really well,” Cameron said. “Honestly, everyone has played a big part.”

The Panthers have most of their experience on defense, led by seniors Lydia Elste, Claire Meakem and Lucinda Gillespie.

“They are strong leaders for the team and a defense that's been able to keep us in games,” Cameron said.

Junior Katie Jones and freshman Jacquelyn Jardini play defense, too, and sophomore Jill Pollen is back as the goaltender.

“Our defense is outstanding, too. They come up big in really critical moments. We have a strong goalie who makes unbelievable saves late in games to keep us in them,” Cameron said. “Because we score so quickly, we have to rely on our defense to keep shots from even taking place and to create turnovers when we need them.”

Lexi Guerin and Victoria Keller both contributed for the Panthers before injuries sidelined them.

Nevertheless, Sewickley Academy looks forward to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs. Last year, the Panthers fell to Upper St. Clair, 15-9, in the first round.

“They are getting excited coming down the stretch here. That's what's fun about working with a young team. They are excited and ambitious and ready to take on the world,” Cameron said. “Our goal, as coaches, is to help them take care of the details and set out to execute what we want to execute. We do have good leadership on the field that I think brings everybody up. We have a lot of natural talent on all areas of the field. We just need to keep getting that talent to rise up in key moments of games.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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