Penn-Trafford field hockey savors championship season, looks to keep program growing

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Friday, November 8, 2019 | 7:58 PM


Penn-Trafford’s field hockey team has been a dominant force in the WPIAL Class AA ranks.

The Warriors won their fourth consecutive WPIAL title this season, shutting out Latrobe, 4-0, on Oct. 29 in the championship game.

“This season was one of great growth,” coach Cindy Dutt said. “We had 36 girls try out for the team. Many had never played field hockey before. There was a big gap in the skill levels, which posed a challenge to the coaches.

“The dedication of the players and coaches to working to improve individual skills then move to tactical team play was incredible. It was a lot of work and there were days we were not all on the same page, but when some were a little down, others were up and the girls were able to lift and encourage each other through the rough spots.

“As the season progressed, we were able to pull it all together and put some really good field hockey play on the field. Although the score didn’t often fall in our favor, we considered it a win to play 60 minutes of intense Warrior hockey.”

Penn-Trafford lost a 7-2 decision to Twin Valley on Nov. 5 in the first round of the PIAA playoffs to end up with a 6-10 record.

“Our play started slow in the PIAA game,” Dutt said. “Maybe nerves played a role early on, but the girls didn’t play their game. We didn’t execute at the level we did in the WPIAL game until Twin Valley was up a few goals.

“I’m proud of the girls because they began to relax part way through the first half and played their game, and they played Twin Valley tough. They played the second half on their terms.”

P-T goalkeeper Sam Dougherty was the only senior on the squad this season.

Dutt sang high praise for Dougherty, a fourth-year team member who split varsity time as a sophomore and earned the starting goalie position as a junior and senior.

“Sam is athletic, quick, incredibly flexible, even tempered, smart and aggressive when necessary,” Dutt said. “As the defensive leader, she worked well with all the girls in her circle. She provided continuity on defense for the last three years.”

Dougherty was backed up by junior Courtney Kravetz, sophomore Gwen Hershberger and freshman Olivia Bankosh, who will battle for next year’s starting job.

“We are very blessed to have a terrific group of returning goalies,” Dutt said. “Courtney has been a successful field and goal player. Having her as a field and goal player added flexibility to our lineups. Gwen is also an experienced goalkeeper. She has played on club teams and participated on a championship USFHA futures team. Olivia is our newest goalie and has seen both the field and the goal.

“All of our returning goalies are skilled and dependable. I look forward to what they bring next year.”

The P-T squad was filled with girls in the junior class this season. Along with Dougherty in net, the starting lineup consisted of Allyson Doran, Nina Bowling and Hannah Ondulich at forward; Emma Little, Carleigh Drakulic, Julia Moorhead, Delaney Shusko and Delaney Lentz at midfield; and Paige Goggin, Maria DiNapoli and Clair Tylka on defense. All are juniors but Shusko and Lentz, both sophomores.

Maddy Keenan also is a top freshman at forward/midfield for the Warriors. Other leading freshman prospects include forward Ella Morocco and midfielders Emily Bloom and Sidney Bauer.

Cece Hach, Natalie Gross and Makenna Trainor are sophomores at the midfield/forward positions. And Jenna Davis, a junior, and Peyton Nicastro, a sophomore, are defensive specialists.

“Next year will be very interesting,” said Dutt, who was assisted by Sarah McCallion, Nate Goggin, Chad Hershberger, Casey Sebak and Myrt Driscoll ths year. “Tryouts for varsity will be competitive, which only makes our team stronger. There may (also) be some experienced players coming up from the YWCA middle school field hockey program. And a few of our current players will play club this winter, and a few participate in the USFHA Futures program.

“I believe we will be stronger next year, and I hope this brings the girls more confidence for when they go up against the strong AAA teams.”

Doran and Shusko, along with Little, Drakulic, Moorhead, Bowling and Ondulich, ranked among the team’s leading scorers and will be looked upon to be catalysts in 2020. Doran and Little were named second team All-WPIAL Division I all-stars this year.

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