Penn-Trafford field hockey in search of elusive PIAA victory

Monday, November 6, 2023 | 9:21 PM

The late Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince used the saying “hidden vigorish” to describe a player who was in a batting slump and was due for a hit.

That saying could describe the lack of success that the Penn-Trafford field hockey team has had in the PIAA playoffs. The Warriors are 0-7 in the state tournament.

But coach Cindy Dutt is hoping that streak ends Tuesday when the Warriors play host to Manheim Central (14-6-2), the fourth-place team from District 3, in the PIAA Class 2A playoffs at 6 p.m.

“We keep getting closer,” Dutt said. “I have a good feeling about our chances. I know the teams out east play good field hockey, but we do too.”

Penn-Trafford lost to Twin Valley, 2-1, in 2022.

The Warriors (18-2) won their eighth consecutive WPIAL title, ninth in school history, by blanking Fox Chapel, 4-0, on Saturday.

Penn-Trafford is led by senior Ohio State commit Ava Hershberger, who has scored more than 110 career goals. But the dynamic senior isn’t the only player on the team who can score.

Liz Welsh scored twice in the championship game. Other contributors include Mallory Bachar, Maura Spadone, Mackenzie Keenan, Caeley Simon, Rilie Moors, Phoebe Gross, Lyla Gross and Emma Chamberlin.

Dutt prepared her team for the state playoffs by playing against some of the top Class 3A teams in the WPIAL. Penn-Trafford’s losses were against Class 3A teams — Mt. Lebanon and Pine-Richland.

“I think it’s time,” Dutt said. “We played a great game against Fox Chapel and we’re peaking at the right time. We controlled the possession in the finals and goalie Nessa Wright had an easy game. Fox Chapel didn’t record a shot on goal.”

Dutt said everyone stepped up and played well. It was a team effort.

Dutt cited the play of Giuliana Youngo, Spadone, Brooke Teaman, Morgan McBriar, Emma Young, Alyssa Paulone and Sarah Ley.

“The girls are playing with a lot of confidence,” Dutt said. “Early on, some of the younger players were nervous thinking about our streak. They’re playing a lot better. It’s also fun to watch Ava and Mackenzie work together.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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