Pine-Richland boys lacrosse rebounds from semifinal loss
By: Kevin Lohman
Friday, June 1, 2018 | 11:00 PM
WPIAL postseason play is expected to be a bit of a roller-coaster ride for the teams that earn the right to duke it out in the playoffs, but to say the Pine-Richland boys lacrosse team has seen its fair share of ups and downs in the past couple of weeks would be an understatement.
From a painful 7-6 overtime loss to North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals to their 8-6 victory over Mt. Lebanon in the consolation game that granted them a PIAA playoff berth to their following contest, a 18-2 win over State College in the opening round of the state tournament, the Rams have run a full gamut of emotions in a short period.
“The last eight days have been the longest three months of my life. That's what it feels like,” Pine-Richland boys lacrosse coach Kevin Welty said.
“One of the hardest-fought games I've ever been a part of against NA, and, obviously, we end up on the losing side. It's jarring to experience that finality of falling short of your goals. But we get to go through it together, and I'm proud that we did. We get to play Mt. Lebanon, we don't play our best, but we get the win. Now, we have the chance to define what this year's team will be remembered for.”
During that period of time, Pine-Richland suffered injuries to some key players, including senior captain Tyler Goncz.
Fortunately for the Rams (19-3), Welty said the team has had no shortage of leaders who stepped up to fill the void. Long-stick midfielder Jon Scherer shifted to fill Goncz's spot in the defensive alignment while the team's other starting long-stick midfielder, Brendan Hein, worked double-time to make up for Scherer's realignment.
Welty credited assistant coach Dave Offner with helping reassemble a defense that has remained successful despite its shifting parts.
In addition to the on-field leadership that has emerged, senior defensive midfielder Vince Buchino has earned his status as one of the more vocal leaders in recent practices, according to Welty.
“We've had some great leadership in the face of adversity. That word, ‘adversity,' is what we talked about a lot throughout the season. But it's something we didn't really have to experience during the regular season,” Welty said.
“Now, we certainly get to be the underdog. We get to put our money where our mouth is and see how we actually respond to adversity. We won our first round at states and played really well. Now, we have to keep it up.”
Pine-Richland was scheduled to play District 3 champion Manheim Township in the PIAA quarterfinals Saturday, after deadline for this edition.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.