The girls want to play, too.
Now they can.
Following the growth of the successful Indiana High School boys’ lacrosse program, the school with field a varsity team for girls as well, starting next spring.
“My daughter, Teresa, came up to me a couple years ago and said, ‘Hey, I want to play lacrosse,’” said Joe Roth, who spearheaded the effort in forming a junior high program last year and will serve as head coach of the varsity team. “I said, ‘I don’t think they have a team.’ One thing led to another, I opened up my mouth and kind of set it up.”
Roth, familiar with the Indiana Lacrosse Club — his son, Andrew, plays on the high school boys’ team –— started with about 20 girls for a junior high-age club program in 2012. This spring he had 26, enough for two teams, at the under-15 and under-13 levels. It will be a big jump to varsity action, but the girls are set to welcome Latrobe for their first varsity match on March 25, 2014.
“Last fall I went before the school board and got it approved as a high school sport,” Roth said. “Now we’re in the WPIAL. We’re still a club sport — the district doesn’t provide any funds — but now we can use the logo and we’ll be able to play at the high school. We’re just a little bit behind the boys. They’ve got a five-year head start.”
Success might not be measured in wins and losses early on, but the program looks to build a foundation. The boys’ program started with a 16-player junior high team in 2008, moved to varsity a year later and eventually broke into the WPIAL playoffs in 2012 and ’13.
“Their first year as a high school team they had barely enough players to form a roster,” Roth said. “They took their lumps, for sure, and each and every year they’d get more wins, more experience, and they made the WPIAL playoffs this year. So obviously that’s a goal, for sure.”
The team recently held a Try-It Day in an effort to bring in some players. With assistant Alex Nocella, Roth will have a summer camp and perhaps another event in the fall before holding indoor practices in the winter at S&T Bank Arena.
The makeup of the team should skew young, with the junior high players moving up, but the group will look to add as many new players, upperclassmen and underclassmen, throughout the next 10 months.
“A couple of the girls that came to Try-It Day, they’re going to be seniors, so right now I have names of four seniors that said they’re going to play,” Roth said. “(Overall) it’s a little bit unknown.”
He’ll also work with the WPIAL, trying to secure co-operative agreements with Blairsville, Ford City and Marion Center in hopes of including a few more girls that have competed with the junior high-level club. The team will play in WPIAL Division 2, which currently does not have a state playoff to which teams can advance, while Division 1 does.
It’s a start for the Indiana girls, though.
“It’s exciting because it’s brand new,” Roth said. “I don’t know how many wins we’re going to get, but it’s going to take us a couple years to get going.
“It’s going to be neat to see what happens. We’ve got some big schools coming in here, like Latrobe and Hempfield. It will be a lot of fun.”