Goalie playing key role for promising Quaker Valley girls lacrosse team
A year ago, the Quakers Valley girls lacrosse team opened the season 0-2 while being outscored 21-9 in losses to Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley.
What a difference a year can make.
The Quakers opened their 2014 campaign last week 2-0, picking up wins over the Rams and Raiders by a combined score of 28-11.
The change in fortune can be credited to the return of several starters from last season’s squad. While they all have an important role in the turnaround, goalie Aubrie Tarris could carry the key to success.
The junior is a second-year starter and provides a cool and collected presence to help guide the team.
“If you have a lot of trust in your goalie, I believe you can play more aggressive and confident as a defender,” Quaker Valley coach Nellie Kraus said. “Our defend is stepping it up with our pressure on shots.”
Tarris has shown a much improved confidence in the net. That was a concern as she entered her first season as a starter but after a year playing against the best the WPIAL has to offer, Tarris is now a veteran on the turf.
“She has a calm confidence and a great attitude,” Kraus said. “I just admire her ability to stand back there and play like she does. Goalie is basically the most difficult position to play and she is confident and aggressive. She has become a vocal leader.
“She brings a positive chemistry to the team.”
During the team’s 14-4 win over Pine-Richland last week, Tarris made four saves in the first half that allowed her squad to build a 5-2 halftime lead that it would never surrender.
Tarris — who plays lacrosse for a travel team in the offseason and represented Pittsburgh at the US Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament the last two summers — said her first season as a starter gave her an idea of what areas she needed to improve during the offseason.
“I spent a lot of time working on my angles,” Tarris said. “I also continued to work on my clears and hand-eye coordination.”
The returning talent across the field has helped Tarris become even more confident in her abilities. The Quakers were held to eight or less goals in nine of their 17 games. But early in the 2014 campaign, the team is averaging 14 goals per game.
“Last year we were more of a defensive team,” Tarris said. “But we have some great offensive players back who are playing really great. It helps me knowing my team is out there working hard. It makes it easier.
“It is a really complete team.”
That feeling is fueling a high confidence level among the team. After winning a pair of WPIAL Division II titles in 2009 and 2010, the team had ups and downs trying to transition into Division I play. But that period may be over as the team is focused on competing for a WPIAL title and spot in the PIAA playoffs.
“We have a lot of strong, confident athletes who are just getting better and better each day,” Kraus said. “We are going to build off that and try and make it to states this year.”
is a former freelancer.