Girls’ Lacrosse

Western 12-1 under new coach


In its first year as an FHSAA-sanctioned program, 22-year-old Bianca Diaz is helping put the Western girls’ lacrosse team on the map

Special to The Miami Herald

Three months after graduating from the University of Central Florida, Bianca Diaz stood in front of prospective student-athletes and their parents for Western High School’s girls’ lacrosse introductory meeting.

Diaz, who was brought onboard to teach the game while Nion Pinto handles the paperwork, created a 14-slide power point that organized her guidelines, expectations and philosophy.

“I fully stand by playing to understand the game rather than just score goals and win,” Diaz said. “I want the girls to go out on the field and really think about what their next step is and to know strategy. I take pride in this game. Now that I have put eight-plus years into playing, it has become a lifestyle for me, and I love it.”

With such a close age gap between her and her players, Diaz, 22, was initially worried it would be difficult to toe the line between friend and coach.

It helped that returning members of the team had already met her. During winter break of her senior year, Diaz stopped by to guest instruct practices.

Instead of being a challenge, her age and gender have proven advantageous.

The girls find it easier to come to Diaz for one-on-one questions. She can relate to what they’re going through, having experienced it a few years earlier. Her positive attitude provides a foundation of trust.

Junior captain Kaitlyn Carmona called Diaz’s coaching style a somewhat laid-back approach. Diaz feeds information in a way that sticks in the players’ heads, aiding their “Lacrosse IQ.”

“She always tells us to hustle hard and play to the best of our ability and have fun and play with our heart because she knows when she played that’s what kept her going and she loved the sport,” Carmona said.

Diaz took up lacrosse her freshman year at Cypress Bay when a girl in Spanish class mentioned that the club sport would play its inaugural season.

Tired of soccer, Diaz immediately enjoyed the intensity and quickness of lacrosse, so much so she played year-round. In college, she joined the UCF team as a freshman and eventually became captain.

Last year, the Knights won their division by beating the University of Florida club lacrosse team in the Southeastern Women’s Lacrosse League conference championship, advancing to the national Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates championship in Colorado Springs, Colo. Diaz earned MVP honors as a midfielder.

Pine Crest’s Eileen Pliske coached Diaz for Team South Florida in national tournaments, which groups girls from the Sunshine State, Georgia and Tennessee.

Pliske, who was on the practice squad for two years at Loyola University in Maryland and has been a coach in South Florida for 13 seasons, joked that it made her feel old to know Diaz was on the sidelines.

“She was a great kid,” Pliske said. “She was very coachable and she wanted to learn. She did everything. She was hungry for everything possible to learn about the sport. I think that’s going to help her tremendously in her teaching of the sport not knowing everything and wanting to learn and applying what she’s learned.”

Under Diaz’s tutelage, Western has gone 12-1 in its first year as an FHSAA-sanctioned program. The lone loss came March 11 in an 8-7 triple-overtime game against South Plantation. One regular-season game remains before next week’s district tournament.

Freshman Madison Woodall, who is part of the first wave of girls learning the sport in middle school, as well as a core group of juniors, provide a versatile group for the Wildcats.

Senior captain Taylor Ouellette has witnessed lacrosse’s transformation since her first year. Aside from Western, other Broward County public schools now field lacrosse teams and compete in the state series.

Instead of a club sport — hoping to reserve a spot on the field to practice or raise enough funds for equipment — the school now treats it like the other varsity teams. The fan base has grown. Friends don’t wonder what lacrosse is anymore.

“She said a couple of times she wants to throw on her jersey, go in and play and show us certain things during games,” Ouellette said of Diaz. “I think she’s taking it all in and molding it so that it will work for us. I think she has the potential to be amazing.”

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

  • Tennis | Boys’ and Girls’ State Championships

    Cypress Bay girls’ tennis team delayed; Coral Gables wins boys’ title

    How fortunes can change in the span of 20 minutes. That’s about how long it took for Cypress Bay to lose its grip on a second consecutive boys’ Class 4A tennis title Tuesday, the end coming swiftly on a bang-bang pair of doubles tiebreakers at the hands of new champion Coral Gables.

Pembroke Pines Charter's Victoria Hill looks for a shot against South Broward’s Sam Weichhan in the District 12 water polo finals on April 15, 2014.

    Broward High Schools Roundup

    Pembroke Pines Charter beats Cooper City, wins District 12 boys’ water polo championship

    Noah Hernandez snapped his arm like a snake striking its prey, scoring at the buzzer and piling on Cooper City in Pines Charter’s 13-9 win Tuesday in the District 12 boys’ water polo championship. The Jaguars swept both the boys and girls district finals under coach Luis Soler, with the girls team beating South Broward 9-3.

  • Tennis

    Cypress Bay returns to finals

    Cypress Bay coach Vince Grossi makes it a point to never look at the updated brackets once play begins at the state tennis championships.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category