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Penn-Trafford boys lacrosse hopes to build on playoff season

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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Quaker Valley's Beau Tomczak and Penn-Trafford's Ryan Solomon compete March 28, 2017, at Penn-Trafford.
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's John Hagerty looks for a shot against Quaker Vallley March 28, 2017, at Penn-Trafford.
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Ryan Solomon and Quaker Valley's Smith Johnson compete March 28, 2017, at Penn-Trafford.
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Micah France and Quaker Valley's Devin Sye compete March 28, 2017, at Penn-Trafford.

For a Penn-Trafford boys lacrosse team coming off its best season in its young lifetime, the road has reached a turning point in more ways than one.

Successful programs don’t just create winning seasons — they string them together. That’s the task this team has been left with by the 13 seniors who used six years of experience to go 11-3 overall and 5-0 in its section to secure the team’s first playoff berth.

Coach Dan Hagerty hopes the continued development of his players in their seventh year can prepare them for the short- and long-term challenge ahead.

“We were one of the best defensive teams in the section last year,” said Hagerty, who has been at the helm since its inception. “We graduated all of our defenseman, so there’s a lot of opportunities for new kids to step up in those roles.”

What will effectively be stepping up is the junior varsity defense in nearly its entirety, as 10 of the 13 graduating seniors were defensemen. While junior Garrett Parrish saw a little time on varsity last year, sophomore defensemen Christian Ogburn and Jacob Pepple are new to the unit.

But the back end is not all underclassmen, as senior Clay Sheffield also is seeing time, and experienced junior midfielder Cam Laffoon transitioned to the back. Senior goalie Brett Schugt will be relied upon to communicate with an inexperienced defensive core.

“Our offense is going to have to work hard in our defense in practice so they are prepared for our tougher games,” said senior Ryan Solomon, who along with fellow senior Micah France, will hold down the midfield and be relied upon to score. “Our defensive captain, Clay Sheffield, and goalie Brett Schugt will have to talk a lot to our guys back there.”

The Penn-Trafford offense should provide a consistently tough test for its defense in practice throughout the season. It returns three of its top four players, including sophomore Griffin Martin, who was second in goals last season and is off to a solid start with 16 points in the Warriors’ first three games.

“He’s a big shooter … plays on the New York travel team. He spends a lot of his life playing lacrosse,” Hagerty said.

Hagerty’s son, John, is back after sitting out his sophomore season with a torn ACL and should provide a big lift to the team. He’s contributed 14 points his first three games this season. Senior Vinny Ferragonio also was a top scorer last season.

With a win Thursday night against Hempfield, Penn-Trafford is 2-2 and will look to face perhaps its biggest long-term challenge, PIAA realignment.

Before this season, teams were grouped based on program maturity, as Penn-Trafford resided in the old Division II. The new rules value school size, eliminated divisions, and placed the Warriors in Section 2-AAA with flagship lacrosse programs such as Shady Side Academy and Fox Chapel.

Solomon knows the team needs to practice like it plays to compete with the big boys.

“Our defense is going to have to play like their defense would,” he said. “They are going to have to be more physical and get out of our comfort zone and vice versa. Our offense is going to have to push our defense to make sure they are prepared for those games.”

“It’ll be a big challenge competing with them,” Hagerty added. “The only way you get better is playing better teams. I think this is the year we have to turn the corner and play with the more competitive teams because that’s going to be the future. … It’s a tough learning curve.”

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.

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