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  • Matt Ondesko

Program Builder

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

By Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos Geoff Schneider/Sports Union

At some point in a career every athlete goes through those minor bumps and bruises. It can be tough sometimes having to miss games or not being 100 percent all the time. But, being able to play through nagging injuries it what makes a player mentally tough.

While others may miss time, an athlete that can play through the nagging things gets respect from their teammates. it shows how tough they are, and that they will do anything for their team.

West Seneca West High School lacrosse player Payton Bernardoni has had her fair share of bumps and bruises during her lacrosse career. Lacrosse is a pretty physical sport and players can pick up nicks every time they step out on the field.

“Coming off of a minor injury can be frustrating, but I am thrilled for the season to really kick off,” stated Bernardoni earlier in the year. “Being the captain of my team I’m ready to lead my team to sectionals, whether that’s on or off the bench, no matter what it takes. Having the mindset of a true champion is key, I think we have a great opportunity in front of us, so i’m very focused on that and I think that’s what has kept me determined during this minor bump.”

The team first attitude is exactly what you would expect from Bernardoni. She has been part of the rebuilding of the Indians’ program over the past couple of years and has reaped the benefits.

Making the varsity as a freshman, Bernardoni has seen the program build on momentum over the course of the last four years. West Seneca West went from not even able to compete with some of the best teams in Western New York to now beating those same teams.

It has been a great transformation for both player and program.

“I’m not sure where to even start with the coaching staff I was blessed with. Playing varsity as a freshmen was pretty intimidating but having a great coaching staff is what truly made my love for lacrosse grow. Coach Marinaro, Coach Pam, Coach Amanda, and Coach Sara are all important influences in my life and I give huge thanks to them,” stated Bernardoni. “Coach Jess or what I call my “second mom” is who I owe biggest thanks to. From the second we met she has been by my side through this whole process. From teaching me new things everyday to stringing all of my sticks, she’s my go to person for not only lacrosse but life in general, and I’m very blessed to have her in my life. I play every game to make all of my coaches proud and they push me to be the best that I can be.”

Bernardoni’s game has risen to the point she will take her talents to the next level. Bernardoni will be playing for one of the best Division II lacrosse programs when she heads to Le Moyne to continue her career.

It was a match made in heaven. The school noticed her during the summer, and Bernardoni just fell in love with the coaching staff, girls and campus.

“Recruiting process was difficult at times. It can be frustrating especially when college coaches cannot contact you until Sept. 1 of your junior year of high school. Sending emails of your tournaments and film to coaches can be time consuming, but it was definitely worth it in the end,” stated Bernardoni. “I was very fortunate to have Le Moyne watch me play over the summer going into my junior year. As soon as college coaches were aloud to contact me Le Moyne was one of the first. I waited to see if some offers would come along the way still keeping in touch with Le Moyne, but after visiting the campus, meeting coach Taylor and a few of the girls, I knew it was a perfect fit for what I wanted.”

Now Bernardoni wants to take WSW to new heights. With the playoffs approaching, WSW has a good chance to get to the sectional finals. They have played a tough schedule all year hoping that will give them the edge during playoff time.

Playing tough teams can only help a team grow. You can almost say that WSW has been building for this season. They took their lumps as a young team over the past couple of years. This year, the team is more mature. They have been building toward this season. The players have bought in to what the coaches have been preaching.

“Playing some tough teams last year and this year has definitely helped my mental game when it comes to lacrosse. My coaches always say the team that goes into a game ready to play and fight with ultimately come out with the win. I’m very excited to be challenged by some of the great teams we play this season, especially going into these games with the team that I’m on this year,” stated Bernardoni. “We are working hard to be named Section 6 champions, and I am working hard to be named an All-American for the 2019 lacrosse season.”


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