Pine-Richland boys lacrosse team battle-tested for postseason

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Sunday, May 9, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Coming into this season Pine-Richland boys lacrosse coach Kevin Welty budgeted for adversity.

He expected there to be postponements, some injuries and for it to take time to build chemistry on the field after the canceled 2020 season.

In some form or fashion each one has happened, but Welty said his team has learned from each experience and is coming together well in time for the stretch run into the postseason.

“This season has been one of the most challenging that I’ve ever coached, but what I think that’s going to lead to is an extremely battle-tested team heading into playoffs,” Welty said. “We’re in a stretch where we feel like we’re playing our best lacrosse, but it doesn’t get any easier when you always want to improve. We’re having some of our toughest practices of the season lately, because we really want to make sure we don’t get complacent and that we keep chasing that best version of ourselves. We haven’t been perfect, but I’m really happy with the pursuit we’ve had to being our best.”

The Rams started 7-4 and scored two big wins recently, 13-7 over Seneca Valley April 23 and 8-7 over North Allegheny on May 3.

Pine-Richland had only two players with any experience returning from the 2019 team that won the WPIAL Class AAA title. It’s taken some time, but the Rams have stuck to the same offensive system all year. Welty said the biggest improvement on the field has come in their passing and ability to share the ball.

The Rams also got a boost from the return of junior attacker Zach Sporrer, who made his debut against Seneca Valley and scored four goals. Sporrer was injured in a scrimmage.

“He’s a natural goal-scorer, and I think that helps everybody just play a little bit looser when we have him out there,” Welty said. “He just finds ways to put the ball into the back of the net, and he did that against Seneca Valley. It was really nice to see him back out there after a tough injury. He looks great and has taken a leadership role on the offensive side.”

Welty credited Cooper Zancosky for stepping in as a freshman and playing strong on attack and said some sophomores have stepped up as well.

Faceoff specialist Kevin Frenz is out for the season with a knee injury, which Welty said was a tough loss. He praised Ed Thomas for stepping up in the faceoff department in Frenz’s absence.

Welty said Mt. Lebanon and Shady Side Academy have separated themselves as favorites, but outside of that there’s a large group of teams trying to sort themselves out. That could lead to an entertaining postseason full of unpredictability.

“In my opinion, when we get to the playoffs you can just about throw everyone’s record and all the scores this year out the window,” Welty said. “I believe it’s going to be a completely new season. There’s going to be some upsets and some overtime games, and I believe we’re going to be right there with all of these teams. It’s going to be a fun May for WPIAL lacrosse fans.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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