High-octane offense carries Pine-Richland girls lacrosse to section title

Saturday, May 6, 2023 | 11:01 AM

With an 18-0 win over Freeport on May 1, the Pine-Richland girls lacrosse team secured its first section title since 2018.

It was part of an excellent run of form for the Rams, who won eight of nine games entering a matchup at Bethel Park on May 5.

It was the first checkmark on the list toward competing for a WPIAL Class 3A championship and a state playoff berth after narrowly missing a season ago.

“That was a huge short-term goal for the girls, to first be confident in our section,” Rams coach Shannen Drennon said. “The biggest thing at this point is to take it one game at a time to get ready for WPIAL (postseason) play. Winning our section was awesome because it allows us to have a first-round bye in the WPIAL playoffs.”

The Rams were 12-3 overall through May 4. The only loss to a WPIAL opponent was against Class 2A power Mars.

Pine-Richland piled up the goals en route to claiming the section championship. They’ve scored 10 or more goals against every WPIAL opponent and notched more than 20 twice.

In the win over Freeport, a dozen players scored at least one goal.

There have been some milestones along the way. Hannah Young and Caroline Gentile both eclipsed 100 goals for their careers.

Caroline Gentile has formed a strong connection with younger sister Cate, who is a freshman.

What’s made the attack so dynamic is how well they’ve passed to each other, opening up different players to take open shots.

“What I like the most about our goals is that they are mostly assisted goals,” Drennon said. “That reflects on the character of the girls more than anything else. They want to see their teammates shine. They want to see the team do best, not I want to do the best, which is the biggest mentality shift from last year.”

The Rams have also been strong defensively. Outside of the loss to Mars and a 12-11 win over Upper St. Clair, they’ve held opponents to single-digit goals.

An experienced backline of seniors Mary Wymard, Mary Dzuibek, Emma Westerhoff and sophomore Erica Waite have stood tall along with sophomore goalie Claire Dosch.

“Our defense is a solid unit,” Drennon said. “I have a lot of great leaders back there, and Claire has stepped up and filled big shoes in goal with Zoe (Katres) graduating last year.”

Pine-Richland was scheduled for a big matchup in the season finale with Mt. Lebanon on May 10. Mt. Lebanon is one of the WPIAL title favorites, along with the Rams.

The Rams already defeated Upper St. Clair, the team they lost to in the WPIAL Class 3A consolation game last year, which prevented them from making the state tournament.

“The goal is to get to states, but there’s a lot of tough games before we get there,” Drennon said. “It’s about looking at the next game and looking at what we need to accomplish there. The girls want to accomplish the short-term goals first in order to get to states. They have all the qualities, so it’s about keeping everyone healthy and keeping everyone on the same page. If we work hard, I think states is a very achievable goal for this group.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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