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Penn-Trafford boys lacrosse rebuilds — again

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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Jackson Laubham (18) is congratulated by Cameron Laffoon (4) after scoring against Plum Thursday, March 29, 2018, at Plum.
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Griffin Martin (7) and Nick Bernard (61) looks to stop Plum's Tyler Milko (11) Thursday, March 29, 2018, at Plum.
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Jacob Pepple (15) looks to get by two Plum players Thursday, March 29, 2018, at Plum.
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Cameron Laffoon (4) takes possession against Plum Thursday, March 29, 2018, at Plum.

Penn-Trafford boys lacrosse graduated 10 players from last season’s team and has had 25 graduates in the last two years, so new players will move into starting roles.

But an area of experience and strength for the Warriors will be the midfield. They return three starters from a team that finished 11-5 last year and narrowly missed making the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Cam Laffoon, John Hagerty, coach Dan Hagerty’s son, and Nick Bernard are seniors and returning starters who will be the team’s backbone in the midfield. All are captains. The Warriors also return last year’s leading scorer, Griffin Martin, a junior who will play attacker and midfielder.

“They should be a strong senior midfield for us,” Dan Hagerty said. “They should score some points, and they’re pretty sound defensively, as well.”

John Hagerty was the team’s fourth-leading scorer last year after missing his sophomore year with an ACL injury. Laffoon played defense last year but is returning to the midfield, where he played his freshman and sophomore years.

Like his older brother, Brett, Laffoon was the Warriors quarterback and a standout in lacrosse.

He guided the Warriors to an appearance at Heinz Field in the WPIAL Class 5A football championship in the fall, where they lost to Gateway.

“Cam and Brett are big lacrosse players like they are football players,” Dan Hagerty said. “Those guys are outstanding athletes. They can run all day, and it’s great to have guys like that because lacrosse is a fast-paced game.”

The Warriors were 2-0 through Friday. They topped Greensburg Central Catholic, 12-6, in the season opener and beat Plum, 14-8, last Thursday. The Greensburg Central Catholic game was scoreless after the first quarter, but Penn-Trafford built a lead in the second and took control from there. Both games were nonsection.

Penn-Trafford graduated three starting defenders and its goalie. Christian Ogburn, Jacob Pepple and Dom Dupilka are juniors slated to start at defense, and fellow junior Aaron Deutch is the goalie.

“This will be the first year starting for any of them at the varsity level, but two of the three (defenders) got some time at varsity last year,” Dan Hagerty said. “All of them are smart players. They have a good feel for the game, so I think they’ll be pretty solid.”

Last season was the first that the WPIAL scrapped the Division I/Division II format based on performance and switched to classifications that focused more on enrollment numbers. Penn-Trafford was put in a division with perennial power Shady Side Academy a season ago, and this year the sections were realigned again placing the Warriors with some top teams.

The Warriors are in Section 1-AAA with defending champion Peters Township, Bethel Park, Hempfield, Latrobe, and Norwin. The Warriors finished behind Latrobe for the final playoff berth last year.

“Bethel (Park) and Peters Township will be pretty darn hard to beat,” Dan Hagerty said. “We play Mars and Hampton out of section, and I think they’ll be super strong this year, too. Latrobe will be tough in section. There will be a handful of difficult games.”

In his eight years with the program, Hagerty has grown accustomed to the new faces each season, especially with the amount of graduates in the last two years. He’s looking forward to seeing how this year’s team evolves.

“The interesting part about high school sports as a coach is how much it changes every year,” Hagerty said. “You have different people stepping up to take leadership roles in the team that two years ago were wallflowers. I really like watching to see how each team gels together. It’s always an interesting experience to see how each year unfolds.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.

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