Appearances can be deceiving. For Cassidy Trautman, happily, they were not once the Cecil Township resident started playing lacrosse as a sophomore at Seton-La Salle High School in Mt. Lebanon.
“My mom convinced me to play because she thought it looked cool as a sport,” said the 18-year-old daughter of Karen and Jay Trautman. “I didn’t know much about it but the team looked like they had fun. So I thought I’d give it a shot and I’m so glad I did. It’s even more fun than it looks.”
Trautman’s opponents, on the other hand, aren’t having much fun. As a midfielder, she has tallied 22 goals. As captain, she also has guided the Rebels to an 11-5 record, a Section 2 championship and a first-round bye in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
“Cassidy can score when needed or set up her teammates,” said SLS coach Brian Klisavage. “She consistently plays great defense and causes turnovers.
“While she only began to play the sport as a sophomore, she became a starter in that year due to her speed, athleticism and tireless work ethic. Cassidy always displays poise and grace under pressure.”
Since the fourth game of the year, Trautman was under plenty of pressure because the Rebels lost their only other senior starter when Ellie Grefenstette suffered a season-ending ACL tear during a 16-9 win against Blackhawk. Committed to Fairfield University, Grefenstette scored 109 goals and had 109 draw controls last year.
“Ellie was our field general and the program’s greatest player,” Klisavage said. “To see such a great player, but most importantly, a great leader and mentor to all the players, lose her senior year was heartbreaking. Needless to say, our team was emotionally devastated.”
Trautman said when Grefenstette fell down doing one of her patented, goal-scoring moves, every one thought she would get up as she always had in the past. Even when she got to the bench, the players were hopeful she would go back into the game.
“We were stunned,” Trautman said. “We were all pretty positive Ellie would return.”
Despite their chins-up attitudes, the Rebels’ fortunes turned negative. Quickly, they dropped five games in a row, two exhibitions in Philadelphia and a pair of section games. During the span, Trautman’s leadership skills emerged.
“Cassidy just kept pressing forward always working to get better and the team took its cue from that example,” Klisavage said. “She does whatever the team needs at the moment. There was no panic in the team at any point in the season because there was no panic in Cassidy.”
Trautman never saw any reason to lose composure because in her mind nothing had changed regarding her role on the team.
“As a captain, I thought my responsibility was the same,” she said. “I’m a quiet captain. I like to lead by example rather than direct the players. I tried to show that I wasn’t worried about anything so that they didn’t need to worry about anything.
“You have to tackle adversity head on. You can’t go around it. You have to go straight through it. It seemed to me to be the correct approach. It hasn’t failed me yet. We had to keep the same attitude and keep on playing.”
And winning returned for the Rebels. They embarked on a seven-game streak that culminated in a 15-5 victory over Trinity on Senior Recreation Night, May 9.
This week, SLS embarks on its quest for a WPIAL championship. The Rebels play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at a site to be determined. They will face either Franklin Regional or Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic. The two teams played Monday in the first round of the playoffs.
“Our first goal was to win the section title and now we are all excited about going for a WPIAL championship,” Trautman said. “We definitely have a shot at it. Anything can happen. We are on the right path to something.”
Regardless of whether she plays another lacrosse game beyond this week, Trautman is on the right path in life. She plans to follow in the footsteps of her parents – her mother is a nurse and her father is a respiratory therapist – by pursuing a career in medicine. Trautman, who has a 4.8 GPA and belongs to the National Honor Society, will attend Gannon University in the fall. She is enrolled in the school’s five-year physical assistant studies program.
“Hopefully, I will be practicing in either an emergency or operating room some day,” she said.
Trautman, however, is fully focused on the task as hand, which also includes vying for a PIAA championship. The top three teams in Class AA advance to the state playoffs. That makes SLS’s contest Wednesday a must-win.
That though does not alter Trautman’s task. She views her role as a midfielder the same as she has all season.
“My role is to take shots and set people up for shots as well as play good defense,” she said. “As a team, we just have to do all the little things. Our coach tells us that if we take care of the little things (like ground balls, catching passes) the big things will be easy.”