The season of firsts keeps getting better for the Tuscarora High School girls lacrosse team.
On Friday, the fourth-seeded Titans played host to its first home playoff game in school history as a decided favorite and cruised past No. 5 Seneca Valley 20-8 in the quarterfinal round of the Class 3A/2A West Regional.
“It's even more special because of how far we've come,” senior Jamie Nicholson said. “No one would've expected us to get a seed, bye or a home playoff game at the beginning of the season. We are making history as we go.”
Tuscarora (10-3), which never fielded a winning season until this spring and won just five games over the three previous years combined, earned its first ever regional semifinal berth and will likely play Monday at top-seeded and undefeated Damascus, which plays host to No. 8 Gov. Thomas Johnson Saturday.
“This is fabulous for the girls,” Tuscarora coach Brad Gray said. “I'm especially happy for the seniors who doubled their career win total tonight. I'm just the director here and they keep getting the job done.”
Against the Screaming Eagles (6-7), seven different Titans scored. Nicholson recorded a game-high five goals and classmate Brianna Shaw scored four times. Tabitha Podlieszek and Kenna Gubler each scored three times to help pace the balanced attack.
“We had something to prove today and came out strong in our final home game,” Nicholson said. “Obviously Damascus is totally different and a really good team. We will have to be better.”
Seneca Valley's Michelle Mattern scored just 1 minute, 14 seconds into the contest to give her team the initial lead. But after that, it was all Tuscarora as it scored the ensuing nine goals and led 14-5 at the half.
Tuscarora eventually led by 10 and started a running clock on three occasions before junior Miranda Malagari scored with 12:30 remaining to give it a double-digit advantage for good.
“We hadn't played a game in almost two weeks,” Gray said. “Offensively, particularly in the first half, we were able to string together passes and every goal in the first half was assisted or on a free position shot. Defensively, we had rust. That's got to tighten up.”
Mattern and junior Charlotte Cunningham each scored three goals to lead Seneca Valley, which has improved from a perennial two and three victory team to a .500 program in four years. Hayley Dutton also tallied twice.
“It has been the best four years of my life and I'm sad to see it end,” Mattern said. “But I've helped the program improve and it is in good hands.”
Tuscarora 20, Seneca Valley 8
Seneca Valley 5 3 — 8
Tuscarora 14 6 — 20
Seneca Valley (6-7): Michelle Mattern 3, Charlotte Cunningham 3, Hayley Dutton 2
Tuscarora (10-3): Tabitha Podlieszek 3, Caitlin Miller 2, Jamie Nicholson 5, Kenna Gubler 3, Miranda Malagari 2, Brianna Shaw 4, Jillian Kosenski 1