You don't often hear words like "perfect" over a period of several years associated with team sports.
But that's just what the North Hills High girls lacrosse team has been for the past two years.
Twenty-and-0 in 2011. Twenty-and-0 in 2012. And, oh by the way, successive WPIAL Division II championships.
Both titles came at the expense of the same team, Chartiers Valley. The Indians won the 2011 title, and followed that up with a nail-biting 11-10 victory in 2012. North Hills was ranked fifth by Laxpower.com out of 34 teams competing in Western Pennsylvania. The four teams ranked ahead of the Indians played a Division I schedule.
North Hills will play a 10-game regular-season schedule this season against teams from its own section, Division II, Section 3. The Indians will meet Butler Area, Hampton, Knoch, Shaler Area and Vincentian Academy. The Indians open the season on April 2 at Vincentian Academy. The only way the Indians would see Chartiers Valley would be in the playoffs. One big difference will be on the bench as James Cassandro succeeds Rachel Hoza, the team's coach for the past three seasons.
Division I: Pine-Richland had a magical playoff run that saw the Rams defeat Oakland Catholic 14-6 in the quarterfinals and Shady Side Academy 16-11 in the semifinals of the WPIAL Division I tournament a year ago. But the Rams' ride for WPIAL top honors came to an end with a heartbreaking 21-18 loss to Peters Township i the championship game. The Rams then defeated State College 16-9 in a first-round PIAA game before falling to Penn Manor 12-10 in the quarterfinals.
Pine-Richland finished with a 17-4 record and was ranked No. 2 in Laxpower.com's final rankings for girls teams. The only team ranked ahead of them was Peters Township.
For Pine-Richland to make a return to the WPIAL playoffs, the Rams must navigate a formidable field. Besides the Rams, four other teams from Division I, Section 2 were ranked among the top 12 teams by Laxpower.com. Shady Side Academy, Seneca Valley, Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy were in the Top Ten. North Allegheny was ranked No. 12. All of those teams are in the same section again this season along wtih Fox Chapel and Franklin Regional. It figures to be a very good section.
Senior midfielder Christine Palmieri of North Allegheny and Lia Winter, a senior midfielder at Shady Side Academy, are two of the top players in the area.