Three WCLA Top 20 Teams in Action at Pitt Playday
Junior attacker Maggie Stankaitis, Pittsburgh's top
scorer, is out until at least April 6 with a concussion.
Pitt Lacrosse Playday
Friday, March 22
Saturday, March 23
Sunday, March 24
Three of the top 20 US Lacrosse Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division I teams are in action this weekend at the annual Pitt Lacrosse Playday.
The No. 11 Panthers host No. 17 Miami (Ohio) Friday night in the tournament opener. No. 20 Ohio State Club will battle Virginia Tech in the nightcap. Penn State Club joins the fray on Saturday.
See the full schedule for the Pitt Playday below.
Pittsburgh (5-3) will play for the first time since a March 3 loss to Maryland in which the Panthers squandered an early 6-1 lead to eventually lose 11-9. Pitt's three losses are by a combined five goals. Coach Gary Neft said the team needs to be more consistent and keep up the intensity in the second half of games.
"I can go back on all three games that we've lost and pick a moment where the game changed," he said. "We've got to play smart, we've got to take care of the ball and we've got to cut down on turnovers, which killed us against Maryland."
The Panthers will be without junior attacker Maggie Stankaitis, who suffered a concussion before the Maryland game. Neft said he hopes to have his leading scorer from last year back in time for the Panthers' April 6 game against Michigan Club, pending clearance from Stankaitis' doctors.
Pittsburgh has not lost a WCLA contest at home since 2007. Miami senior defender and player-coach Kati Keenan has never beaten the Panthers, but she said the games are always close. The Red Hawks will focus on combating Pittsburgh's double teams and aggressive defense.
"We have a really strong team this year. We've got a really good group of freshmen," Keenan said. "We just have to get our mind in the game and get ready to play. If we beat Pitt, there's no stopping us."
Panthers senior defender Robyn Dalton expects a tough fight from Miami.
"Each year, they come out stronger and stronger. We need to play aggressively and make sure that we take our time on attack and really make good choices," Dalton said. "It could go either way. If we have one up on them with aggression and with hustle, then we have a good chance of winning."
No. 20 Ohio State cracked the top 20 this week, but the Buckeyes are untested. They posted an 11-4 win against Kentucky in their only game of the season. Penn State is playing its season opener Saturday against Pittsburgh. Virginia Tech is 2-0 against WCLA Division II competition this year.
As is the case throughout much of the lacrosse community this weekend, however, the teams will play for more than just a notch in the standings.
The tragedy that claimed the life of 30-year-old Seton Hill coach Kristina Quigley, her unborn son Jackson and 61-year-old bus driver Anthony Guaetta has cast a pall of sadness over the weekend. Seton Hill is located about 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh. Each of the teams will represent Seton Hill's crimson and gold in some way and a moment of silence will be observed before the first game on each day.
Pitt has played fall scrimmages against Seton Hill for the last several years. Neft, who also has coached two current Seton Hill players in fall ball travel teams, said Quigley enjoyed what she did and really cared about her players.
"Our thoughts and prayers are going out to Seton Hill," Dalton said. "Everyone in lacrosse nation all feels for them. We want to do at least a little something for them to show our respect for their team and the fact that no team should really have to go through that."
Jude Hazard covers the US Lacrosse Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) for Lacrosse Magazine and LaxMagazine.com. Contact Jude at firstname.lastname@example.org.