Penn-Trafford field hockey off to strong start as team eyes 8th straight WPIAL title

Thursday, September 14, 2023 | 8:14 PM

Penn-Trafford field hockey coach Cindy Dutt hadn’t missed a match since she started coaching until her team played Pine-Richland on Sept. 12.

She had a great reason: the birth of her first grandson.

And even though she missed the WPIAL Class 2A section opener Sept. 14 at Latrobe, she was confident the team would continue to dominate.

“I would say Latrobe and Fox Chapel are our biggest threats,” Dutt said. “I heard we played a spectacular game against Pine-Richland. It was our best game of the season.”

Penn-Trafford (5-2) has dominated the WPIAL in Class 2A, winning seven consecutive titles (2016-2022) and eight overall (including a Class 3A championship in 2011).

“I think we can win it again,” Dutt said. “The team is coming together nicely. We had to replace out front line and goalie. But the new players are stepping up.”

It also doesn’t hurt that the Warriors return Ohio State commit Ava Hershberger, who has scored more than 100 goals in her career.

“Ava had a terrific summer playing club hockey and she’s on the Junior National pool roster and may get selected to play on the national team,” Dutt said. “She’s graduating in December so she can start college early. She’s going to study nursing.”

Dutt said Hershberger is shy and likes to share in the scoring.

“She’s humble and would rather assist in some games,” Dutt said. “But when we need her, she’s all in.”

Penn-Trafford’s losses were against Class 3A teams – Mt. Lebanon and Pine-Richland.

“We didn’t have a lineup set when we played Mt. Lebanon,” Dutt said. “They shortened our practice to a week this year and the extreme heat limited our conditioning. We’re still working on that.”

Some of the key players lost to graduation were goalie Olivia Bankosh and forwards Emily Bloom, Sidney Bauer and Ella Morocco. Bloom is starting for Washington & Jefferson.

Returning are senior holding mid MacKenzie Keenan, senior left back Brooke Teaman, senior right back Morgan McBriar and junior center back Giuliana Youngo.

The new goalie is senior Nessa Wright.

“Nessa is able to read the play and is experienced in starting the offense,” Dutt said. “This year, my defense is strong and we’re young up front. Next year, we’ll be strong up front.”

Some of the exciting new faces up front are junior right forward Rilie Moors, junior center forward Maura Spadone, senior left forward Alyssa Paulone, sophomore forward Liz Welsh, senior mid forward Phoebe Gross and senior right mid Emma Young.

Others who will see action include sophomore Mallory Bachar, sophomore Caeley Simon and sophomore Sarah Ley.

“The forwards are working out really well,” Dutt said. “They are steadily improving. We don’t have as much depth and we’re finding out more about the younger players.

“We haven’t reached our apex yet. We’re hoping we get a little better.”

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


More Field Hockey

Aquinas field hockey rebuilding on the run
Pine-Richland senior recovers from injury, rekindles passion for field hockey
Drive for 5 underway for Pine-Richland field hockey
Shady Side Academy, Fox Chapel field hockey standouts pick up all-star honors
PIAA postpones soccer, field hockey semifinals to Wednesday