July 15, 2024


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Pa. girls lacrosse preview: Which local programs are ready for a title run?

6 min read

The girls lacrosse season started in Pennsylvania on Friday. It’s time to take a look at who could compete for Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11 gold in 2022.

4 stories to follow

Phillipsburg girls lacrosse hosts Easton on May 1, 2021

Easton’s Ava Milia (14) moves the ball inside against Phillipsburg on May 1, 2021. Saed Hindash | For lehighvalleylive.com

1. Easton set for another championship campaign

The Red Rovers captured the District 11 Class 3A and Eastern Pennsylvania Conference titles last spring and have the bulk of that team back this season. Senior Ava Milia and sophomore Jocelyn Morgan return to Easton’s attack after scoring 62 goals apiece last spring. Senior Lea Krieger (50 goals, 12 assists) and junior Reese Krieger (41 goals, four assists) return to the midfield.

“We are always looking to build on previous success. With hard work, discipline and composure, we hope to continue our success from last year,” Easton coach Michelle Mihalko said.

The Rovers turned to New Jersey for challenging out-of-area opponents, adding Hunterdon Central, Bridgewater and Summit to the schedule.

2. Spartans welcome back plenty of talent

Southern Lehigh won its first D-11 2A title in six years in 2021 and averaged 15.5 goals per game. Sophomore Reese MacIntosh, who set Southern Lehigh’s single-season record for goals with 85 as a freshman, is back in the midfield, along with seniors Iris Gluck (36 goals, 22 assists) and Riley MacIntosh (40 goals and 17 assists).

“While we lost five seniors from last year’s team, we still return eight varsity starters from last year’s 16-4 team, four of which were All-Area players,” Southern Lehigh coach Kevin Cain said. “Our nucleus is strong with good leadership from our seniors and a nice blend of underclassmen. Overall team speed is excellent, and all of our players have good lacrosse IQ.”

In Southern Lehigh-related news, former Spartans standout Bridget Cerciello, who recently ended a decorated career at St. Joseph’s University, has taken over the program at Northwestern Lehigh.

3. Parkland under new leadership

Dawn Cipolla, who guided the Trojans to four D-11 and EPC titles in seven seasons, stepped down as head coach last summer and longtime assistant Brittaney Costigan has taken the reins. The former Wilkes University Colonels captain expects leadership to come from Parkland’s midfield trio of seniors Nikki Boyer and Kaz Kennedy and sophomore Gigi Leonzi, along with defenders Morgan Napolitano and Morgan Dobil.

“We are going to use our young, raw talent to create a new style of play for our program,” Costigan said. “We are hoping to build and improve upon our record last season to make it as far as we can into May and June.”

4. P.V. looks to build on strong finish to 2021

Pleasant Valley won eight of its final 10 games last season, including wins over Parkland, Allentown Central Catholic and Saucon Valley. With top scorers Alexandra Bush and Brielle McInaw back for their senior season, Bears coach Toni Bush has an optimistic outlook.

“We are very excited about the 2022 season. Our team looks to have a balance of experienced upperclassmen and talented underclassmen. As long as the veteran players continue serving as great mentors to the underclassmen, we are very optimistic,” Bush said.

4 questions to answer

1. Can Saucon Valley get back to the top of 2A?

The Panthers streak of three straight D-11 2A titles came to an end last spring. Saucon Valley graduated the program’s all-time leading goal-scorer Maria Donahue. Junior goalie Teegan Lannon, an Xavier University recruit, and junior attack Sophie Englehardt, who scored 45 goals last season and recently committed to Siena University, should serve as leaders for Saucon Valley this spring, according to coach Helen Deegan.

“We graduated a lot of key seniors. The big question is who will step up and take their spots,” Deegan said. “One of our strengths is the freshmen pushing the upper classes and making them better players. Another one of our strengths is our returning defensive and offensive players.”

2. Will defense lead Emmaus to postseason success?

The Green Hornets reached the EPC final for the first time since 2015 last season and held their opponents to five or fewer goals in 12 of their 18 wins. Emmaus welcomes back seniors Marybeth Smith, Maddie Conway and Kam Watkins to its defense while leading scorer, senior Julia Cote, returns to the attack.

“So many players on our team are committed to lacrosse throughout the year and have been working on improving upon our success from last year. Our team has a core returning unit especially on the defensive end that has been working together for two years now,” Emmaus coach Roxann Betz.

3. Is ACCHS ready to take the next step?

The Vikettes won 10 games for the first time in program history in 2021 and welcome back their top scorer in junior attack Lauren Nelson. Second-year coach Taylor Holko, who also leads the Central Catholic boys soccer team, pointed to senior goalie and Temple commit Riley Horshko as another leader.

“We have a lot of young talent with great lacrosse IQ. We’re athletic, quick, and have the ability to score from various positions,” Holko said. “Last year, we made it to the district semifinal, and I think it’s realistic for us to get back again and make a run at a championship. We have the talent and we just need to execute.”

4. How will Nazareth jell?

The Blue Eagles lost their top three scorers from last season to graduation, but coach Jennifer Nolan believes her team can grow over the course of a more complete schedule this spring. Senior midfielder Sarah Osmun, who committed to continue her lacrosse career at Lock Haven University, will be a valuable leader after recording 16 goals and 10 assists in 2021.

“We may have some growing pains, but no doubt in my mind that we will improve greatly as we move ahead, finish strong and make a strong run,” Nolan said. “The last time our seniors had a normal season was their freshman year. We have a chance to have a normal season and more than anything, I want to see our seniors to go out on top.”

7 players to watch

Sr. ATT Ava Milia, Easton

Milia stood out in the Rovers’ balanced attack last spring, finishing with a team-high 79 points (62 goals, 17 assists). The Muhlenberg College commit scored her 100th career goal in Easton’s season-opening win against Liberty.

Sr. ATT/MID Julia Cote, Emmaus

Cote scored multiple goals in every game last season, including an eight-goal performance in a 17-1 win over rival Parkland. The Bloomsburg University commit finished 2021 with 82 goals and 18 assists.

Sr. MID Kailey Turpening, Freedom

Turpening is the top assist-provider returning to the Lehigh Valley, after notching 51 assists in 2021. The senior, who is committed to play basketball at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, also scored 23 goals last spring.

Jr. ATT Lauren Nelson, Allentown Central Catholic

Nelson scored 73 goals in her first season at the varsity level last spring. The Vikette registered five or more goals in eight games.

Freedom girls lacrosse hosts Saucon Valley on April 15, 2021

Freedom’s Paige Telatovich (21) battles Saucon Valley’s Maria Donahue (17) for the ball on April 15, 2021.Saed Hindash | For lehighvalleylive.com

Jr. MID Paige Telatovich, Freedom

Telatovich had a breakout sophomore campaign, finishing the season as her team’s top scorer (83 goals). The University of Pittsburgh commit was all over the field for Freedom, recording 132 draw controls, 56 ground balls and 50 forced turnovers.

So. MID Reese MacIntosh, Southern Lehigh

MacIntosh is the area’s top returning scorer and should serve as a key component to the Spartans’ D-11 2A title defense. Cain seemed confident that MacIntosh will have no problem finding the 15 goals needed to reach the 100-goal milestone and become the fastest player in program history to reach that feat.

Sr. GK Kylee Hager, Easton

Hager made 129 saves last season and was a first-team selection for both the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference all-star squad and lehighvalleylive.com All-Area Team.

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Desmond Boyle may be reached at [email protected].

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