Favorite athlete: Charolette North #8 Boston College Women’s Lacrosse
Favorite team: Boston College Women’s Lacrosse
Favorite memory competing in sports: Seeing my family in the stands, away bus rides.
Music on playlist: Just Say Dat by Moneybagg Yo
Future plans: Attend Arizona State and study biomedical sciences
One goal before turning 30: Established within my chosen career and beginning to fulfill my dream of improving people’s lives
One thing people don’t know about me: I am left handed but play all sports with my right
By Mary Jane Souder
Lesha Karaba had herself quite a lacrosse season.
The Abington senior – in a season cut short by two COVID-19 shutdowns – scored 61 goals, earned first team league honors and was an undeniable leader of a Ghost squad that earned a spot in districts. Impressive by any standard but especially remarkable considering Karaba did not play for the past two springs – stepping away as a sophomore to sort things out and then missing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s why it’s so incredible,” Abington coach Amalie Kreitman said. “Her talent is so remarkable that after two years she was able to pick up the stick and score 61 goals. If she would have played all four years, I think she would have been unstoppable.”
As it was, the senior midfielder was pretty close to unstoppable in her final high school season, and she has not ruled out the idea of playing lacrosse at some level when she heads to Arizona State University this fall.
“I think this year really had a big impact on if I wanted to play after high school because at the beginning of the year I was very skeptical,” Karaba said. “But the bond I have with the girls on my team is unbreakable now.
“I want to continue making new bonds with new people with the sport I love. I can’t see myself continuing without it.”
If given the chance to do it over, Karaba might very well choose to do it exactly the same way.
“Part of me wishes I’d played, but the other part – it’s a good thing I didn’t play because it made me have an appreciation for the girls,” she said.
Karaba also had a breakout season for Abington SOL Liberty Division champion soccer team last fall.
“She’s an ace,” coach Rick Tompkins said. “She’s got a ridiculous amount of speed, and she unbalances defenses for us.
“She truly came into her own as a senior. Although she played a lot as a junior, she didn’t get as much production, but she worked really, really hard and saw a lot more success in terms of goals and assists.”
Karaba’s value to both squads extended well beyond the goals and assists she contributed.
“She’s got a good attitude, she’s coachable, and she’s very well respected by the team,” Kreitman said. “People would go to her with their stick skills and how to do things.
“She is a true leader. We pushed her in the sense – yes, she wasn’t a captain, but she had all these leadership qualities that were helpful. When we needed to get things done, she was able to push the underclassmen in a positive way and get them fired up with skills and just being on the field and what that should look like.”
“She was a good teammate,” Tompkins said. “Plug and play – you put her on the field, and you know she was going to give you good solid minutes.”
Sports have been part of Karaba’s life for as long as she can remember. She played soccer for her father, who was her coach from the time she was four until she was 12.
“He really had a big impact on my love for sports,” she said. “He played sports in high school and passed it down to me."
Karaba expressed appreciation to her parents for their unwavering support over the years.
"My mom and dad always knew what to do to help if I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and they were always supportive in any decision I would make whether it be with lacrosse or with the future," she said.
Lacrosse entered the picture when she was in first grade, and she got her start in Wiss Lax before moving to Abington Girls Lacrosse Club.
“I knew it was something I wanted to try because I went through all the girls sports as a little girl, and I didn’t really want to sit around and do nothing,” she said. “Lacrosse was all action and running around. I loved it.
“I tried to get into field hockey, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to stick with. I felt I had the skills down, but it wasn’t as interesting to me as lacrosse was. I did softball when I was younger, but I didn’t like sitting down when everyone else was batting. I played basketball with my brother growing up, so I would go to his AAU practices and play with him, but it was just for fun. It was never really serious for me.”
Lacrosse was a different story, but Karaba reached a crossroads her sophomore year.
“For my club team at least – everyone was making decisions about whether they wanted to play in college or not, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” she said. “The (lacrosse) family was always there, it’s always great having those girls, but I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.”
Her reason for returning last year as a junior was simple.
“My friends – the friends I make through the sports,” Karaba said. “I’ve been with those girls since third and fourth grade at AGLC.”
The COVID-19 pandemic took the 2020 high school season away from everyone.
“It was kind of hard on me personally,” Karaba said. “Our team worked so hard in the offseason, I pushed myself so hard and then to have it taken away – I felt like we worked for nothing, but it just made us really appreciate the time we have as a team because it could be taken away at any time.”
This spring was not without its setbacks. Twice the lacrosse team was shut down for COVID-19 protocols.
“It was really hard,” she said. “It was one after the other. We got shut down for a day, we came back for a day, and we got shut down again. It has to be 10 days each time, so it was close to a month we were out. It was awful.”
The Ghosts finished the season strong, winning eight straight games before falling to a perennial powerhouse Garnet Valley squad in the opening round of the District One 3A Tournament.
When she finally got on the field this spring, Karaba made up for lost time, scoring 61 goals in 15 games for an average of four goals a game.
“She’s just an all-around incredible player,” Kreitman said. “She’s a very hardworking player and student too.
“Thinking about it is pretty incredible – she went from playing varsity freshman year and not a ton of games to being a starter and an all-out incredible player.”
Karaba’s journey to attend Arizona State is hardly your typical one. As a matter of fact, one short year ago she was seriously considering Arcadia University in Glenside.
“It was five minutes away from my house,” she said. “I wanted to stay close to home – that’s all I wanted to do.
“Then I really thought about my experience, and I was like – do I want to stay close or travel and really get to see what it’s like because I feel like this is an opportunity, and if I don’t take it, I could regret it in the future.”
Karaba has never set foot on the ASU campus but followed their basketball and sports teams.
“I know they’re really big on that,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to go to Penn State just because I know so many people that are going and I kind of want a fresh start to see what everything else has to offer. I also had heard so many good things about it.”
At Arizona State, Karaba will pursue a biomedical sciences major with her sights set on a career in dermatology.
“I’ve always been into skin care,” she said. “I don’t struggle with acne. That’s not something I have to deal with, but a lot of my friends do, and when their self esteem is down about it, I feel bad because I can’t relate and I want to try and help them the best I can. You have to be confident in yourself, and I feel like your skin is a very big part of that.
A member of the National Honor Society, Karaba also was part of Abington’s Varsity A club her sophomore and junior years. This summer she is going to be working with the 2025s and 2026s in HEADstrong, her club lacrosse team.
"My club team, HEADstrong, had a big impact in wanting to continue with the sport," she said. "The bond with the girls and how my coaches were so invested in wanting to see us succeed and play to our fullest potential - I feel that gave me more confidence in myself as a player and really pushed me to keep striving for as much success as I can in the sport."
Competing in club lacrosse or trying out for the ASU team as a walk-on are not out of the realm of possibility when Karaba heads west this fall.
“She’ll do well at Arizona State,” Tompkins said. “She’s as smart as a whip, and she’s a very, very nice girl.”