When Gianna Cua left gymnastics to focus on lacrosse four years ago, she hoped to have the exact impact she ultimately has on the DeSales women’s team.
What the Westerville senior midfielder may not have expected was to become a part of history, which she will do next year as a rookie on the debut of the first. Xavier’s varsity lacrosse team, regardless of gender.
Before that, Cua will attempt to end his stud career as it began – with a Division II state championship. She did her part to get the team off to a quick start, registering a team-leading 33 goals as well as one assist in nine games against some of the region’s top sides.
“I wasn’t in the lacrosse world at first, but I found a passion for lacrosse. I started the club. I liked it. I knew I wanted to play in college,” Cua said. “We won my freshman year and (2019 graduate and current Cincinnati player) Sophia Finotti has been a huge role model for me. Just seeing how she performed set a great example. She was fast and so important to our team and that’s how I wanted to be.
DeSales is 6-3 overall, 3-0 in the CIL and 1-0 in the CCL entering an April 21 game at Watterson.
On the heels of a 61-goal junior season in which she was named to the States second team, Cua started this year on March 18 with five goals against New Albany, runners-up state in the Division I last year.
She played in three six-goal games a year ago to help the Stallions reach the Region 7 final and scored a career-high seven in a 14-8 win over Granville on April 7.
“In a way, Gianna’s game resembles Sophia’s game with her speed and power,” coach Joe Finotti said. Her youngest daughter holds the program record for career goals with 258, including 98 in her senior year as the Stallions won their second state title in four seasons.
“Gianna started believing in herself even more last year,” coach Finotti said. “She believed that if she needed to get him into the cage, she could score a goal if we needed to. It’s carried over to its senior year now. We ask him to do more things by being a decoy and distributing the ball.
Cua attributed much of his success to playing all year, most recently for Resolute Lacrosse.
“My speed helps me a lot. It took me a while to catch up with most players in my skills with the stick because I started (lacrosse) so late,” she said. “The pace at the club is so much faster, so playing at that speed all summer helped take my high school game to the next level.”
Cua committed to the Musketeers on August 25, three months after the school announced it would begin women’s lacrosse in the spring of 2023. Cua chose Xavier over Akron and Tampa.
She is one of three players from the region in Xavier’s inaugural recruiting class, along with Catherine Gurd of New Albany and Katelyn McDonnell of Olentangy Liberty.
“Being part of the very first Xavier lacrosse class means so much to me because it will be so special to create all the new traditions and start a legacy,” said Cua, who also laughed at the possibility of a game against Sophie. Finotti and the Crosstown rivals Bearcats. “My team can lay the groundwork for all the years to come.”