DeSales Roundup: Stallions girls lacrosse team working to recapture 2019 form

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Senior midfielder Gabby Mahaffey is one of the top returnees for the DeSales girls lacrosse team. In 2019, she helped the Stallions go 21-1 and win the Division II state championship.

DeSales girls lacrosse coach Joe Finotti concedes that there are some unknowns when it comes to this year’s Stallions, both because they lost 220 goals to graduation between their top two scorers from the 2019 Division II state championship team and the lack of a 2020 season.

Inexperience also could play a part, despite 18 of the Stallions’ 24 varsity players being juniors and seniors.

But even if DeSales doesn’t have the experience it enjoyed in recent seasons, the Stallions’ ninth-year coach thinks athleticism might make up for that as the team defends its second Division II state championship in four years.

“There’s a lot of work and a lot of development (necessary) to get the girls up to playing at a high level, but we have a good group,” Finotti said. “We’re a very athletic team. We just are lacking some experience as everybody else is as well, but our athleticism is probably some of the best I’ve seen since I’ve been here. We’re just continuing to work and develop players with their skill sets and implementing the offense and defense.”

Seniors Carmela Cua (goalie), Gabby Mahaffey (midfielder) and Izzy Sauer (attacker) return from the state title team, which went 21-1 and was ranked as high as eighth nationally by MaxPreps.

Mahaffey is an Akron recruit.

Cua began the season recovering from a wrist injury suffered during soccer season. Her backup is junior Abby Reagan, a transfer from Westerville South.

Seniors Lauren Clayton, Delaney Harmon and Grace Nordmoe return on defense. According to Finotti, juniors Gianna Cua and Brynn Wakefield will flank Mahaffey in the midfield, and junior Monica Sullivan and sophomore Ella Dingman will join Sauer on the attack.

“We have a good group of seniors helping out with the young girls, getting them up to speed on how things are run in the program,” Finotti said. “Where missing last year hurts is in the development of some of the juniors. They’d be further along with their skills had they played last year, but they’re continuing to grow and work hard.”

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Joe Finotti, ninth season

Next game: April 8, home vs. Delaware

Key athletes: Lauren Clayton, Carmela Cua, Lily Jones, Gabby Mahaffey and Izzy Sauer

Boys lacrosse team

eyes return to state

A veteran group of midfielders that includes seniors Kahleb Lang, Andrew Mahle and Nick Trostel and junior Maddox Rickens returns to pace the boys lacrosse team, which is seeking its third consecutive Division II state tournament berth.

Rickens and Trostel, who are long-stick midfielders, will support a group of attackers led by juniors Brady Ayers and Jackson Carawan.

Lang is a Seton Hill recruit. Mahle has signed with Wingate and Carawan is a Wingate commit.

“They are soaking it all in more than any team I’ve ever seen,” 16th-year coach Matt Triplet said. “It’s been competitive. It’s one of those things where it’s not necessarily been a free-for-all, but we’re not totally sure who will fit where. It’s been finding who works well (together) and developing talent.”

Besides senior Ryan McCann, the defense largely consists of underclassmen, including junior Jacob Grube and sophomores Aidan Bee, Seamus Bonte and Jonathan Maas. According to Triplet, the likely starter in goal is freshman Gavin Burns.

Burns will be backed up by sophomore Mason Brown. Burns succeeds Connor Thune, a 2019 graduate who started in goal as a freshman.

Triplet said he sees similarities between this senior class and that from the state title team in 2018, on which the current seniors were freshmen.

“Chemistry is about 75 percent of this. We see these guys working well with each other,” Triplet said. “These seniors are emulating what they saw out of those (2018) seniors when they were freshmen. A lot of that is in the way that they lead. We’re on a hybrid schedule so half the team doesn’t know the other half personally. We have guys talk to somebody they don’t know every day. The seniors are trying to include as many people with different drills and things like that as possible.”

BOYS LACROSSE

Coach: Matt Triplet, 16th season

Next game: April 6, at Granville

Key athletes: Jackson Carawan, Kahleb Lang, Andrew Mahle, Maddox Rickens and Nick Trostel

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave