PV girls lacrosse shows dramatic growth
Pleasant Valley’s Julianna Lopez (left) looks to get off a shot against Northampton during a recent lacrosse game. Lopez leads the Bears in scoring this season, and has been a main reason why the teams is in contention for a District 11 playoff berth. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
It’s the fastest growing youth sport in America.
Last year, 1.6 million Americans played lacrosse — a 37 percent increase from the previous year. The sport, called “lax” by those inside the game, has enjoyed a staggering 218 percent increase in participation during the last decade.
“Lacrosse is an exciting, fast-paced game,” said Pleasant Valley girls’ coach, Toni Bush. “It’s challenging and unique. It’s not mainstream, and you won’t see it on TV, but it’s great to watch and great to play.”
At Pleasant Valley, lacrosse is in its third year as a varsity sport and many of Bush’s players began playing in elementary school as members of the Pleasant Valley Youth Association.
“In 2010, we had four girls playing lacrosse at the PVYA,” said Bush. “Now we have 80.”
Four years ago, 1,500 signatures in favor of starting a lacrosse program at the high school swayed the PV board of education’s approval.
“At Pleasant Valley, we’ve doubled our number of JV and varsity players to 20, and only two of our players have no prior experience,” said Bush. “All the stars have fallen into place.”
This year, the Pleasant Valley girls team is on the verge of qualifying for the District 11 playoffs. The Bears are led by senior Savannah Bauman and sophomore Juliana Lopez, who have both scored over 100 goals for their careers.
“For me, playing lacrosse is an escape from reality, “ said Bauman, who has totaled 140 goals thus far. “The game is a big stress relief, and when I play, I let it all out.”
Bauman is headed for East Stroudsburg University next year to run cross country, but she also intends to try out for the lacrosse team in the fall.
Lopez, who has played the game since third grade, has totaled a staggering 124 goals in less than two full seasons.
“I love the competitiveness of the game,” she said. “You have to play with teamwork to win, but as an individual, there are lots of opportunities to score goals.”
Since none of the nearby Monroe County or Carbon County teams currently have lacrosse programs, the Bears have long bus rides for away games, some that take over an hour to get to.
In men’s lacrosse, body-to-body contact is allowed and helmets are required, but for women, only stick-to-stick is acceptable, and the only required gear is goggles.
“I’ve had four concussions from getting hit in the head with sticks,” said Bauman. “so now I’m the only girl on my team who wears a helmet.”
In just its third year of existence, Pleasant Valley has a legitimate chance for postseason play. The Bears are 7-7 overall and 4-5 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. They are playing their best ball since the program was started on the varsity level, having won six of their last seven games.
Pleasant Valley needs to win two of its four remaining games to clinch a .500 record and automatically qualify for the district playoffs
The fun and success the team is enjoying is making everyone of those 1,500 people who signed the petition to have a varsity lacrosse team very happy that they did.
HAT TRICK ... Northern Lehigh’s Kaitlin Hoffman had a game to remember last Thursday against Moravian Academy.
The senior hit three home runs during the Bulldogs’ 15-0 Colonial League win.
Two of Hoffman’s bombs came in the first inning when Nolehi batted around and scored nine runs. Hoffman connected on a solo shot and a three-run dinger in that first frame. She added another solo blast in the fourth.
TWO OUTS ARE BETTER THAN ONE ... Jim Thorpe’s baseball team was able to post a 3-2, ninth-inning win over Lehighton last Thursday when Evan Dart delivered a game-winning RBI single.
The Indians collected 13 hits in the contest and had plenty of base runners, but the Olympians defense was able to turn four double plays to help limit the scoring.
CRAZY SEVENTH INNING ... Panther Valley and Marian had quite an ending to their Schuylkill League baseball game on Monday.
The two teams were tied at 4-4 after six innings before everything broke loose in the seventh.
The Colts tallied six runs in the top of the seventh, which was started by a solo homer off the bat of Alex Kubishin.
PV, trailing by a 10-4 score, rallied for seven runs in the bottom half to gain a walk-off win. Tristan Blasko started the comeback with a two-run homer. Aaron Miller, Jake Taras, and Mason Goida each added RBI singles in the big frame.
RECORD-BREAKER ... Lehighton’s Isabelle Meckes has won every discus competition she has participated in this season, but this past Thursday her first-place throw meant more than just five more points for her team.
The talented Indian thrower recorded a mark of 124-1 to set a new school record. That broke the old mark of 120-4, set by Gwen Remaley on April 28, 2014.
Meckes isn’t the only thrower in the family. Isabelle’s 14-year-old sister, Abigail, also broke a school record this season. The eighth-grader recorded a toss of 104-8 to establish a new Lehighton Middle School mark.
PLAUDITS FROM PINE GROVE ... Eleven Times News track and field athletes captured individual firsts at the Pine Grove Invitational last Friday.
Five of them were Jim Thorpe boys, helping the Olympians capture the team title.
Jarrin Geisinger (100), Nujai Walcott (200), Samuel Hydro (800), William Munson (shot put), and Jason Scott (discus) all won events to help JT post 101 points. Central Columbia finished second with 77. A total of 16 teams competed at the annual event.
Three other area boys, all from Palmerton, also claimed first-place finishes. They were Mike Eckhart (triple jump), Jordan Nelson (long jump), and Eric Keck (javelin).
In the girls competition, area winners were Weatherly’s Emily Zoscin (100), Jim Thorpe’s Lydia Wallace (800), and Palmerton’s Madison Martinez (300 hurdles).
HONEST BOMBER … During Monday’s Palmerton-Northwestern Colonial League baseball game, the Tigers’ Derek Holmes hit a deep shot that was initially called a ground-rule double by base umpire Frankie DeAngelo. But Palmerton outfielder Zach Silfies had a much better look at the hit than DeAngelo, who was hustling out from the infield to try to get a clear vantage point. Silfies told DeAngelo that Holmes’ ball actually cleared the fence on a fly, allowing DeAngelo to change his call to a home run.
Silfies honesty was appreciated by Rick Bennett, who was umpiring behind the plate. “That’s a great tribute to that young man,” said Bennett.
Holmes’ first-inning home run gave Northwestern an early 2-0 lead in the game. But thanks in part to a big offensive game by Silfies, who had three hits and two RBIs, the Bombers rallied for a 14-5 victory.
DOUBLE THE FUN … The first and second rounds of the District 11 Class 2A and 3A doubles tennis tournaments are scheduled to begin Monday at Lehigh University. A total of six area teams will be in the event.
Pleasant Valley’s Jake Ammermann and Josh Schaffner are seeded eighth in the Class 3A bracket. They will play Parkland’s Nishant Chiuturu and Matthew Liu in the first round. The Bears’ Jason Allesch and Brian Kagel also qualified and will play Allen’s Shadi Eldawyati and Ngun Thawng in the first round.
Four area teams will be playing in the Class 2A tournament. Jim Thorpe has two teams in the event — Matt Widdicombe and Connor Rodgers, and Raymond O’Neil and Emilio Mercado. Widdicombe and Rodgers will play top seed Tej Laliwala and Joel Thompson of Saucon Valley in the opening round, while Mercado and O’Neil will take on Matt Falteich and Kyle Smedley of Bethlehem Catholic. Lehighton’s Marua Phelan and Olivia Frendt, along with Palmerton’s Nate Andress and Mattis Willuhn also are in the field. Phelan and Frendt will play Blue Mountain’s Kyle Rich and Chase Weizer, the No. 5 seed, in the first round, while Andress and Willuhn will face Wilson’s Anthony DeArmas and Iggy Markow.
The quarters and semis are Tuesday at Saucon Valley. The finals are Thursday at Lehigh.