This spring, the reigning WPIAL champions kicked off their season with a scrimmage against last year’s WPIAL runner up, Chartiers Valley. Shaler lost by one in the scrimmage, but Chartiers Valley will now be playing in Division I while the Titans are in Division II. A game that close with a talented team shows promise in what the Lady Titans can accomplish this year.
With a 19-1 record and two consecutive Section and WPIAL titles from last year, the team has a lot to live up to. With big wins against Hampton and Mars, the Lady Titans did not hesitate to start off the season strong. The team currently has a 9-1 record, with their first loss against Mars this past week. Led by the experienced senior class, the team is clearing their path to another shot at a WPIAL title.
“I am expecting so much from our large senior class. They have dedicated themselves to setting the precedent for our program over the past three years, and have high hopes for their fourth and final year with the program. They are all leaders on and off the field,” head coach Jen Perestock said.
The biggest challenges the team faced this season did not come from opposing teams. The Lady Titans lost two starters from last year, Nellie Philips and Morgan Burke. Philips was the team’s center and Burke was the low defender. With losses like that, the freshmen have been looked upon to step up and contribute.
“The position of center is a very unique, finesse, and important role. Morgan was also a key role on our defense. Therefore, we have been working to move younger players up, move some positions, and fine tune the newly assumed positions,” Coach Perestock said.
“Our biggest challenge this season is getting the freshmen and younger players to fill in those roles and get adapted to our style of play,” senior Cristine Cafeo said.
One underclassmen who is stepping up this season is sophomore Kara Jans. Jans is a second year starter at attack/midfield. “We have high expectations for playoffs, and the seniors have all been there to guide the younger players,” Jans said.
“The underclassmen come to me for help and I enjoy helping and teaching them. We have a lot of expectations on us and I just want to show them that working hard will help us live up to those expectations,” senior Shannon Lynch said.
Another area the Titans will look to strengthen is in the draw circle. Winning draws can help win games, a factor in the Titans’ first loss against Mars.
The senior class consists of seven skilled and key leaders who have faced those challenges head on. Kaylee Coyle will contribute on the defensive end in goal. Captain and 4-year starter Steph Fleming and returning starter Shauna Talbot will be counted on defensively. At midfield, Neely Regan, a 2-year captain, has stepped up to assume Philips’ role as center. Shannon Lynch will be at midfield as well, and the team will look to her to excel on the draw circle. As leading scorer, Lynch has high expectations to contribute on the offensive end. At low attack, returning senior starters McKenna Ash and Cristine Cafeo will tally a significant number of goals and assists. These girls will also be key leaders in the offensive sets.
“This senior class is extremely special to me because they have been a part of our team when we earned our first and second WPIAL title. The emotions involved with such exhilarating and exciting experiences will never be forgotten,” Coach Perestock said.
The best team in Shaler’s section is Mars, who they are 1-1 against, winning the first and losing the second. Mars currently has a record of 6-4. In the division, Moon and Blackhawk have good records and could be a more equal matchup with the Titans.