By Matt Parrino firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Since the inception of the Monsignor Martin Association girl’s lacrosse league 10 years ago, Mount St. Mary has dominated like few other Western New York teams in any sport.
The Thunder have won eight-straight league titles and their last loss came in the third game of the 2010 season — three years ago.
Today at 4:30, MSM puts its perfect 9-0 league record on the line against Buffalo Seminary at Larkin Field. A win would be the 100th league victory in the program’s history.
“Our 100th win in 10 years, in a league this small — that’s pretty much amazing,” said Thunder coach Marissa Dauria. “We’d be 100-6. To have that type of record — it’s phenomenal what these girls do consistently. It’s not like we had one undefeated season, these girls keep rolling in and they’ve always stepped it up to where things need to be. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
The Thunder are relentless.
When any one of the attackers or midfielders get the ball, it’s off to the races. Dauria said this year’s team is probably one of the most athletic in the history of the program. Every offensive player has a ton of speed and elite stick skill to match.
Dauria said preparation has been the key to success.
“Practices are hard and that’s where they learn to push themselves to a limit, and then keep going,” she said. “That way when they are in a game it’s not a problem because they’ve already been to that breaking point and beyond it. At that point it’s more of a mental battle. They’ve been through practices where they weren’t sure if they’d make it, but when they face a situation in a game that’s difficult they’re ready to handle it.”
No member of the Thunder has been more able to handle in-game pressure than senior attacker Shannon Pelitera. The 2012 News girl’s lacrosse Player of the Year has been impossible to stop once again this season. She scored her 100th career goal on April 30 and has started on the varsity team since she was a freshman.
Pelitera, who has 41 goals this season and is second on the all-time MSM scoring list with 102 career goals, didn’t spend too much time thinking about the accomplishment, though, she’s more concerned with winning games.
“I didn’t think about it too much but then my coach mentioned it to me and I thought, ‘OK, I can do it,’” she said. “Our coach really tells us to stay focused and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, whatever team it is, we still have to stay as focused as possible as a team and communicate.”
Dauria said Pelitera is one of the best players to ever put on a Thunder uniform.
“The first day she walked into the gym she had a broken hand and I thought, ‘Oh, this kid is just coming to watch,’ But her Dad said, ‘Oh no, she is playing with a cast on her hand.’ And I was like, ‘Well, we have a real lacrosse player here,’” Dauria said. “Since then she’s been great.
“The first game she started for us and she’s started every game since then, and has only come out (of a game) a total of 25 minutes her entire career. She’s been an absolute rock. … We’ll miss her a lot next year.”
After Pelitera, senior Gabriela D’Aguilar and sophomore Olivia McDonald help make the Thunder arguably the most feared offensive team in the Monsignor Martin league.
Dauria said D’Aguiar, who was an All-Catholic selection last season, is another rock solid player for MSM who always wins ground balls and plays with a level head.
McDonald doesn’t play like a sophomore. Dauria said after starting her on attack at the beginning of the season she moved to midfielder and has blossomed there.
“She doesn’t have a ton of goals but her speed is amazing — where she picks up a ground ball and she’s gone,” Dauria said about McDonald. “Shannon can’t even stay with her. She’s really huge for us as a sophomore with some leadership ability.”
Dauria is proud of the work ethic that’s become the staple of the MSM program. Girls know the expectation the moment they walk in the door, and each player continues to carry the torch for those that built the winning foundation.
“We’ve won the championship for the past eight years and we’re hoping for a ninth this year,” Pelitera said. “Knowing the history of our school we know we have to push it. We know every team is going to be after us, so we have to work as hard as we can.”Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.