Pine-Richland boys lacrosse clinches section title
Friday, May 4, 2018 | 11:00 PM
For the third consecutive season, the Pine-Richland boys lacrosse team clinched the Section 4-AAA championship.
Last season, the Rams utilized offensive power to carry them to a section title as the team scored a program-record 225 goals.
This year, however, Pine-Richland (13-2, 5-0) found its success in a different fashion, by playing a gritty, nasty brand of defense. And coach Kevin Welty couldn't be any happier about it.
“Defensively, if you look at our scores, that is the consistent theme: that our defense, as a unit, is coming together and really shutting teams down very effectively. I think there's only a couple of teams this year that have scored double-digit goals on us,” Welty said.
“We're just really happy with the improvement of that unit, and it all starts with the mentality. Everybody on the team is buying in, even the leading scorers, to the fact that we're a hard-nosed team and a good defensive team, and that's the priority.”
One of the major contributing groups for the team's overall defensive play has been the defensive midfielders. A unit that typically represents a weak point in most teams' defensive alignments has become a strength for Pine-Richland, Welty said.
But it all starts in front of the net, where seniors Mike Steliotes and Tyler Goncz have established themselves as crucial cogs in the team's defensive machine that Welty hopes will power the team to postseason success.
“The beauty of our defensive unit is that it's a diverse group, both in playing styles and intangibles. Mike and Tyler, I think they both have been having a really good season. Tyler is sort of our general back there. He's our communicator. Any coach will tell you that communication is key to a good defense,” Welty said.
“Mike, who we call the Big Aristotle, he's probably 6-5, and he's just a really good kid. He gets put on the other team's best attackman and usually does a great job.”
Another member of the defense, Reis Ravotti, has also provided the Rams with extra punch on their backline.
In addition to their powerful defenders in front of the net, the Rams also have benefited from a strong group of long-stick midfielders in Jon Scherer and Brendan Hein.
“Both of them would start on most teams in the WPIAL, and we just have the luxury of having them as a one-two punch to guard the other team's top midfielder,” Welty said. “Either one of them can step in and do that task, and the best part is that they are not clones of each other out there.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.