Perhaps a change in venue for the championship game will yield a better result for the Chartiers Valley High School girls lacrosse team.
For the past three seasons, the Colts have advanced to the WPIAL championship game only to see their hopes dashed with successive losses to North Hills -- 15-5 in 2011 and 11-10 in 2012 -- and a heartbreaking 15-14 setback to Shaler Area a season ago.
All three of those losses took place at North Hills' Martorelli Stadium. This year, the girls Division 1 and Division 2 championships will be played on May 22 at Highmark Stadium at Station Square. If the first 11 games are any indication, the Colts -- who are 10-1 following Tuesday's home victory against Moon Area -- are in line for another shot at a championship.
"Yeah, we would be silly not to think that wasn't in our future, but given the dynamic of our team and the amount of athletes and talent we have on this team, it is a likely scenario,'' said Julie Gould, the Colts' fourth-year coach. "Whether it plays out like that, we don't know.
"I wish I could read into the future, but my feeling as a high school lacrosse coach for years is that this team has the ability to go far and win the final game."
Sophomore midfielder Maria Stamerra is the Colts' leading scorer with 40 goals, 22 assists and 110 draw controls (the equivalent of a face-off).
Another sophomore midfielder, Margo Mason, is next with 31 goals, 12 assists and 18 draw controls. A third sophomore midfielder, ShyAnne Toomer has 21 goals and 17 assists.
Senior goalie Haley Stamerra had recorded 69 saves in the team's first 10 games.
Chartiers Valley gave every indication that it is ready for the rest of its regular-season schedule -- all against Division 2 opponents -- when it traveled to Mt. Lebanon, a Division 1 power, this past Thursday and gave the undefeated Blue Devils (12-0) all they could handle before the Colts fell, 11-9.
To date, Mt. Lebanon is the top-ranked girls team in Laxpower.com's rankings for girls teams in Western Pennsylvania. Quaker Valley is No. 2, and Chartiers Valley is No. 3.
"I wish I had done some things differently," said Gould, who had been the Mt. Lebanon coach earlier in her career. "We have to keep things positive, and I told the girls [the loss to Mt. Lebanon] didn't mean anything [in terms of playoff seedings]."
What it does mean, though, is that the groundwork has been laid for a potential move to Division 1.
"This shows we can hang with the Division 1 schools," she said of her team's narrow loss to the Blue Devils and earlier victories this season against three other Division 1 schools -- No. 5 Peters Township, 16-11, Oakland Catholic, 18-12, and Upper St. Clair, 10-6.
Just as importantly, the Colts sent a message to Shaler in their third game of the season as they beat the No. 4 Titans, 13-8.
"It depends on where the standings fall, but we would definitely like a rematch [with Shaler]," she said.
There's also the possibility that schools such as Mt. Lebanon, Oakland Catholic, North Allegheny, Quaker Valley and other Division 1 schools could become a part of the Colts' schedule as peers, and not a matter of playing "up," which is the case right now.
"We have talked about it and discussed it with parents and my athletic director," Gould said. "I think we're at the point where we can consider it.
"But I'd like to have a WPIAL [Division 2] title before I do that. It seems silly to move to Division 1 if you can't win Division 2. But I think we have the dynamics and a great feeder program at Char Valley. In any other sport, they compete with the big schools, so why can't we?"