Penn-Trafford field hockey team going for 4th straight WPIAL title
Sunday, September 1, 2019 | 5:04 PM
For the past three seasons, the Penn-Trafford field hockey team has captured the WPIAL Class AA championship.
Will there be a four-peat? It could come down to how the team matures.
The Warriors graduatd 11 seniors from last season’s roster. In their place will be talented-but-unchallenged junior and sophomore classes. Penn-Trafford returns only one senior.
“This will be a bit of a building year,” coach Cindy Dutt said. “We have a group of girls who have played together the last few years. I love the camaraderie with this team.”
The Warriors’ lone senior is goalkeeper Sam Doherty. She returns after having a standout junior season during which she made 172 saves with a .78 save percentage.
“This is her third year with the varsity team,” Dutt said. “She brings a calmness. She plays like no other goalkeeper I’ve had.”
But the team also will look to the future of the goalie position. Junior Courtney Kravertz and sophomore Gwen Hershberger might get playing time throughout the season to gain more experience.
The junior class has plenty of talent. Emma Little and Julia Moorhead could be the leaders of the team. Both were members of the Penn-Trafford softball team that won a state title in the spring. Dutt hopes they can transition that experience to field hockey.
“They are two very strong players,” Dutt said. “Emma was a midfielder last year. She played well in her role at the center position. Her vision has gotten much better, and her passing is a big strength.”
Alexis Doran returns and is expected to provide a spark to the offense. Nina Bowling will bring experience to left mid.
“Alexis is a spark plug. She has a lot of energy,” Dutt said. “(Bowling’s) vision is really good. She isn’t as physically imposing as her presence is.”
The young roster will get tested by a challenging Division I schedule that features teams such as North Allegheny, Peters Township and Pine-Richland. But while most of their competition will play for the Class AAA title, things are a little different for the Warriors.
Penn-Trafford is one of only four teams to play for the Class AA title. Latrobe, Oakland Catholic and Woodland Hills make up the rest of the Class AA competition and play in Division II.
“Playing up prepares us for the postseason,” Dutt said. “I don’t think some of the scores reflect how much we compete. We match up to teams like Pine-Richland and Upper St Clair. But they have more depth. We can run with them. But we breakdown and they capitalize.”
While the team is entering the season with some uncertainty, there is one thing Penn-Trafford is sure about: The Warriors are ready to add more hardware to the trophy case.
“We had a team building activity recently,” Dutt said. “The girls said their goal is to win the WPIALs again. If we can have a better record than last year and win the games we should, I think we will be where we need to be.”