The Bethel Park girls lacrosse team has qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, despite suffering its first loss of the season.

The playoffs commence May 17 with championship and consolation games scheduled for May 26 at Robert Morris University. Three WPIAL Class AAA teams qualify for the PIAA tournament, which begins June 1 and concludes with championship action at 12 p.m. June 12 at Harold Zimmerman Stadium in West Chester.

While a 17-8 loss to Mt. Lebanon denied BP’s chances to win the Section 1 title outright, the Black Hawks hope their strength of schedule earns them respect from the WPIAL steering committee. The Black Hawks played Quaker Valley and Norwin last week to complete its schedule. A win against the Knights — the May 14 game did not end in time to have its result included in this edition — would force a three-way tie for first in the section with Lebo and Upper St. Clair.

“We’ve been working hard to make a good argument for a top seed,” said BP coach Becky Luzier.

“Our hope for the postseason is to really focus on playing our game and sticking to the things that make us strong while not allowing our opponents too many opportunities to expose our shallow bench.”

Bethel Park played one of its strongest games of the season in 1 13-12 victory over rival Upper St. Clair at the end of April.

In the win, junior Caitlyn Schultz scored five goals, while senior Lucia Coccagno scored four and junior Tori Krapp finished with two. All three serve as team captains.

In the loss to Lebo, Schultz registered a hat trick. Coccagno collected two goals while Riley Miller, Maddy Walters and Krapp provided single goals.

Reagan Murdoch led the Lebo attack, exploding for seven goals. Teagan Hoover produced four goals while Addie Murdoch followed with a hat trick.

“Lebo played a great game,” said Luzier. “What hurt us most were unforced errors. Those turnovers hurt you double when you don’t have a deep bench. It turns into a track meet and you get tired faster without a bench as deep as most of the opponents we play.

“We also struggled to come up with ground balls and transition the ball-something that hasn’t been an issue for us all season.”

While disappointing, the Lebo loss has not devastated the Hawks.

“All-in-all we had our first bad game of the season,” said Luzier. “If we need to get one of those out of our system, now is the time to do it. We want to be playing our best lacrosse (in the playoffs) and I do believe we can bounce back from this.”

Though they feature one of the smallest rosters in the WPIAL with 19 varsity players and no junior varsity squad, the Hawks have succeeded.

“On average we are about 10 players smaller than most of the programs we face, so we’ve been doing more with less at Bethel for a long time,” said Luzier, who has coached the Black Hawks for 13 seasons. “It’s a testament to their work ethic that we are having a historic season.”

Luzier said “teamwork, tenacity and trust” have contributed to the team’s success this season.

While Schultz, Coccagno, Krapp and Miller, a Division I commit to St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, prime the Hawks’ attack, juniors Ella Stewart and Walters as well as sophomores Meghan Krapp and Amanda Lincoln have provided scoring punch.

Chloe McDaniel and Megan Cunningham anchor the defense. The juniors are veteran starters.

“They are a formidable duo,” said Luzier.

Junior Kaitlyn Wiard, sophomore Carley O’Mara and freshman Averie Moul join McDaniel and Cunningham in the back.

McKenna Moriarity provides the leadership in goal. The senior is also aided by junior Sydney Kosko and sophomore Ashleigh Manns.

“We have three truly excellent goalies who we like to rotate a lot, but we look for McKenna in big games,” said Luzier.

Additionally, the Hawks boast versatility as Jade Fuccaro, Corrine Hewes and Katherine Tena can play either on the attack or on defense.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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