Defending WPIAL lacrosse champion Pine-Richland loaded with talent

Sunday, March 18, 2018 | 11:00 PM

The Pine-Richland girls lacrosse team enjoyed a storybook season a year ago, as the Rams won the WPIAL Class AAA championship.

Several valuable contributors graduated, but Pine-Richland returns 11 players with title-game experience, including a pair of future Division-I players.

With that many players returning, coach Brittany Adams knows her team might have a target.

It's a new challenge, but Adams said the group is ready to defend the championship.

“As a program, we have high standards of excellence for ourselves, with the coaching staff and the players,” Adams said. “I've heard that it's tough to get to the top but even harder to stay there. But our team is hungry, so to speak.

“We're mentally and physically preparing for another successful season. We're continuing to instill versatility with draw controls and different offensive and defensive strategies. It's something we're trying to emphasize so other teams can't expect the same strategies from us.”

Pine-Richland returns the bulk of its defense, led by Liberty commit Megan Lieberman. Aislinn Tobin, Carly Switala, Becca Shephard and Hannah Rust will help make returning goalkeeper Abby Levier's job a little easier.

In the midfield, two-time All-American and Penn State commit Marina Miller will key a unit that lost Gillian Brachocki because of injury but will also welcome back one of last year's leading scorers, Kendall Gessner.

The Pine-Richland attack will feature experienced players in Megan Luellen, Cathy Haas, Maeve Barton and Lauren Juncal, in addition to talented newcomer Sophia Mellis.

Given Pine-Richland's talent, it could be easy for the team to get lost in their expectations, but coach Adams said she is not concerned because of the steadfast senior leadership.

“I have to give credit to the seniors, they definitely take a lot of the burden of the team leadership upon themselves,” she said.

“I think it's about staying humble and taking it one game at a time. There's a lot of strong contenders out there in the WPIAL, and we just want to make sure that we are one of them by season's end.”

Pine-Richland will play its first game at 7:15 p.m. Monday at Mars.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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