Weekly Feature

2016-06-15 / Sports

Section champ Lancaster prominent on First Team


The First Team All-Stars for the 2016 All-Bee Girls Lacrosse Team include, from left: Co-Coach of the Year Julie Buccieri (Lancaster), Laura Skrzypczyk (West Seneca East), Riley Lucarelli (Lancaster), Jenna Hagen (Lancaster), McKenna Rushford (Amherst), Lauren Jones (Lancaster), Sydney Cerza (Clarence), Player of the Year Anna Orlando (Lancaster), Anna Donnelly (Lancaster), and Co-Coach of the Year Janet Battaglia (Amherst). 
Photo by Daniel RosatiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The First Team All-Stars for the 2016 All-Bee Girls Lacrosse Team include, from left: Co-Coach of the Year Julie Buccieri (Lancaster), Laura Skrzypczyk (West Seneca East), Riley Lucarelli (Lancaster), Jenna Hagen (Lancaster), McKenna Rushford (Amherst), Lauren Jones (Lancaster), Sydney Cerza (Clarence), Player of the Year Anna Orlando (Lancaster), Anna Donnelly (Lancaster), and Co-Coach of the Year Janet Battaglia (Amherst). Photo by Daniel RosatiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com After another season of dominance on the field, Lancaster dominated voting for the All-Bee girls lacrosse team. The Class A champions make up four of the seven spots on the first team, not including Player of the Year, Anna Orlando, and co-Coach of the Year, Julie Buccieri. No other school had more than one honoree.

Jenna Hagen, Attack


No one saw Jenna Hagen coming. Not any of Lancaster’s opponents, anyway. The senior more than doubled her 2015 goal total with 55 tallies this season. While teams focused on shutting down Orlando, Hagen made them pay.

“I think other teams didn’t necessarily see her coming,” Buccieri said. “There were so many games where she would just put three or four in the back of the net and they were not really focused on her. She really surprised a lot of people, I think.”

While Hagen was a good player during her junior season (she finished with 27 goals), she put in a lot of work in the off-season to end up as one of the top players in Western New York.

“She had a good season last year, but I don’t think other teams thought she was a threat,” Buccieri said. “She came in this year after working so hard during the off-season. This being her senior year, she really wanted to be a leader and she really wanted to help her team as much as she could. She really worked hard through the whole off-season.”

Hagen also finished the season with a team-high 24 assists. Her offensive output was the result of a varied skill set, according to her coach.

“She has such a grace about her, I think,” Buccieri said. “She’s able to catch well, shoot well and kind of weasel her way in between players. Her career at Lancaster ended on a super high note with the Frontier game.”

Hagen will continue her playing career at Mercyhurst University in the fall.

Laura Skrzypczky, Attack

West Seneca East

Laura Skrzypczky was a scoring machine in 2016. The junior scored 90 goals, leading her team by a significant margin.

According to her coach, her production is a result of her dedication.

“Her hard work and dedication stand out,” West Seneca East Coach Jeff Bauda said. “She’s always coming to every team event all year. She’s involved with the national team, too. She just works to get better year-round and never misses anything.”

Skrzypczky was a captain, a rarity for a non-senior. The distinction was a result of her positive attitude toward her teammates.

“She had a huge impact on our team this season,” Bauda said. “She was supportive and encouraging. She put forth her best effort. No matter what her role was in a given game, she was able to do it well.

“She’s hard-working in the classroom and on the field. She’s a great role model. This is her fourth year on varsity. The girls look up to her from every aspect of the game. She’s always very encouraging and extremely hard-working. She just wants the best for herself and her teammates.”

Additionally, Skrzypczky’s consistent effort impressed her coaches.

“Day in, day out she has such a great work ethic and every practice she puts forth her best effort,” Bauda said. “To be able to do that for a whole season is challenging.”

McKenna Rushford,



McKenna Rushford had no issues with production in 2016. The senior scored 69 goals and had 103 points en route to leading Amherst to the Class C Title Game.

“Her strengths are her speed, intensity, stick skills, shot selection and her presence in every area,” Amherst Coach Janet Battaglia said. “She’s a coach on the field and she sees the sport at a very high level.”

Rushford doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses, but the combination of her size and quickness seem to make her extra difficult for defenders to deal with.

“Her size and speed can put her anywhere on the field,” Battaglia said. “She’s a huge factor on offense, defense and in the midfield.”

She showed off her impressive ability to take over a game in a Section V affair early in the year. The Tigers trailed Our Lady of Mercy late in a non-league game. Rushford scored three straight goals to put Amherst ahead and ultimately give them the win.

As a captain, Rushford’s value to the team went beyond her production.

“Her intensity and passion for the game are contagious,” Battaglia said. “She keeps everyone on their game.”

Sydney Cerza, Midfielder Clarence

Sydney Cerza put the finishing touches on an incredible high school career in 2016. She scored 66 goals and put up 113 points to easily lead her team in both categories. That output pushed her career goal total to 256 – by far the most in Clarence program history.

“She’s extremely gifted, but she’s also one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met,” Clarence coach Jocelyn Hohman said. “She works hard all year long to make sure she’s ready to go for the season. She’s always working on different aspects of her game, whether that’s her speed or her strength.”

Cerza didn’t just lead the team in goals and assists. She also took face-offs and acted as a coach on the field.

“She’s also very good in the mental aspect of the game,” Hohman said. “She runs the entire field for us. She takes draws; she’s the leading scorer; she led the team in assists. When coupled together, that’s hard to do. She really developed an ability to see the whole field. She was also a workhorse on defense. She’s a threat all over.”

Cerza was counted on as a leader this season and didn’t disappoint. She played some of her biggest games against the best teams – including Hamburg and Frontier.

“She’s very consistent and reliable,” Hohman said. “She prides herself on that. She did a phenomenal job this season. She led by example all year. She really took her leadership role to heart.”

Cerza will play Division I soccer at St. Bonaventure University.

Riley Lucarelli, Defense Lancaster

While Lancaster shined on the offensive end, Riley Lucarelli helped make sure opposing players did nothing of the sort. The senior was tasked with shutting down each team’s top offensive player – a role she relished.

“She’s in a role that sometimes doesn’t get a lot of praise,” Buccieri said. “She was our lock-down defender. She was in charge of taking care of whoever the other team’s best player was. Not only did she do it without complaining, she wanted to do it. For years, we’d put a young kid in there and they’d move themselves onto midfield or something like that. She loved doing it.”

Lucarelli specialized in face-guarding offensively skilled players. Her speed and determination made it tough for anyone to play offense against her.

“She’s super fast, super aggressive and just focused,” Buccieri said. “Her main role was guarding the best player on the other team, but also bringing the ball up through the clear.”

Lucarelli will play for the perennially strong Canisius lacrosse program in college. She was recruited by other schools, including National Champion North Carolina. The three-sport athlete won the Bill Kling Award for top female athlete at Lancaster High School.

Anna Donnelly, Defense Lancaster

Anna Donnelly joined Lucarelli in manning the backline for the Class A Champions. Donnelly’s role was a tad more specific, however. She specialized in shutting down girls who were dangerous behind the net.

“Anyone who was a threat from behind the net, her strength was stopping them,” Buccieri said. “In girls lacrosse, if you have a girl who can roll the net, that’s a huge advantage. For goalies and defenders, that can be hard to stop. Anna did a great job stopping them.”

Donnelly shined in the championship game against Frontier. Lexi Rockey, who scored more than 70 goals during the season, was held to just one in the biggest game of the year.

“Without her doing that, we probably would have lost that game,” Buccieri said. “She was huge for us.”

Lauren Jones, Goalie Lancaster

Lauren Jones was new to the starting lineup in 2016, but it didn’t show in her play. The senior wasted no time getting used to the varsity level, providing a safety net for the Legends.

“A lot of times, it takes kids like a year to get used to varsity,” Buccieri said. “She got used to varsity, but she didn’t get a lot of playing time last year. She really had to step up to the plate quick for us. She had to play like a competent, experienced varsity goalie.”

Jones was especially important in the Class A Title game. With seemingly everything else going wrong, Jones was rock solid in net, ensuring the Frontier lead stayed manageable. Jones allowed just one goal in the second half after making save after close-range save in the first half.

“She was huge in that sectional final game,” Buccieri said. “She played big in a lot of big games. She really did a great job for us.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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