Hustle, Teamwork Propel Foxes to Another Postseason

In her five years as head coach of the Foxes girls lacrosse team, Kellee Cribby has seen each of her teams get better every season. There is a good possibility that this year might be her best one yet as the Foxes advance to the WPIAL Class 3A playoff cycle again. Last season, Fox Chapel Area finished as a semifinalist.

Sophomore midfielder Caroline Grimsley explains why this team is unique and the various aspects of their game that have improved.

“What makes this team so special is our ability to push and motivate each other, especially when we need it the most,” says Caroline, who leads the team in assists and points and is ranked second in goals behind senior All-American Sydney Schutzman. Schutzman just scored her 200th career goal, which brings her total to 209 and counting. 

“For example, during our game against Mt. Lebanon, we were down in the third quarter, 9-3,” Caroline recalls. “If it weren’t for my coaches and teammates’ motivation and support, we wouldn’t have caught up, tied them by the end of the game, and gone into overtime.  It was a tough loss, but it felt like a win. I can’t wait to play them again.” 

“We played really great in that game and worked hard,” says coach Cribby. “The loss taught us a lot and while we always want the win, you can learn a lot from that type of a game.” 

Junior midfielder Meg Delaney recently scored her 50th career goal and is one of the team’s top-three producers in goals, points, ground balls, and forced turnovers. She says the team’s motivation this season comes from what they learned in the past year, especially at the 2023 WPIALs.

“I believe that our team this year is a different team as compared to last year when we struggled with finding lanes, passing, cutting, and offense as a whole,” Meg says. “This year, we have really emphasized keeping teams under 10 goals, and our scores have proven we are capable of following through on that. Our offense has been completely redefined this year, and we are finally capitalizing on our mistakes made in last year’s season and been able to gain a sense of trust and respect while playing together.” 

Coach Cribby praises other midfielders, sophomores Zehra Ozkaya and Hope Pekarcik, for their contributions. “They are hustlers and work hard on both sides of the field. They both have done a great job for us and have shown great grit.”  

Standout senior goalie Tess Petrucelli keeps her focus on the team’s performance, not her personal statistics. But she does lead in saves in all of Class 3A. Her communication skills have played an important role in the team’s successes over the past three years. 

“I think my ability to talk to my teammates about where the ball is has helped not only myself and the defenders, but the team in general,” Tess says. “So much of the game is about constant communication of where the ball is and what is going on, so talking about that helps keep everyone aware.” 

“Tess is doing fantastic,” states her coach. “She understands she can change the momentum of the game and that takes having a great rapport with her teammates at that end of the field.”

Preseason Sets the Tone

Coach Cribby says the entire tone for each year begins with offseason preparation. 

“I give the seniors a lot of credit for really making an effort to get everyone involved over the summer, and I think it really shows this season,” she states. “They all realize that nothing is going to be handed to them and that they can’t just show up, they have to compete and want to win.”

That mentality has helped the Foxes to garner an overall record of 12-3 (as of May 6), with one of the losses coming recently at the hands of last year’s 3A champions, Pine-Richland.

Tess says, “As a team, we just have to remember to keep our heads up and stay positive. For us to play well together, we need our morale to be high, and after a tough loss, keeping morale high is even more beneficial for us all.

“We are looking back on that game and seeing it as a way to build and improve on our weaknesses and, overall, to become a stronger team as we head to the end of the season and into the playoffs.”