Pine-Richland boys lacrosse team buckles up for playoff run

Friday, May 10, 2019 | 8:10 PM

The Pine-Richland boys lacrosse team was on a roll, toppling three straight opponents by a total score of 53-2 as it headed into its season finale against rival North Allegheny.

Then, in that final regular-season game, North Allegheny stopped the Rams (15-2) dead in their tracks, winning 11-6.

Still, Pine-Richland got the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs. And after the regular-season finale loss, coach Kevin Welty said his boys are more motivated than ever.

“They’re a really good team. It was definitely a wakeup call for us, in terms of the level that it’s going to take to stay together as a team for as long as we want to,” Welty said.

“This group is really close, and I think that loss jolted them and made them realize that we’re on borrowed time now. That last game really lit a fire under us. We had our best practice of the year yesterday. I’ve never seen this team this hungry.”

The Rams do not seem to require major schematic adjustments. Welty described their pre-playoff practice as tuning up the Pine-Richland race car. After all, this year’s team finished four goals shy of the program’s all-time mark.

It will continue to rely on what got it this far.

That means leading scorer Dane Dowiak spearheading the attack alongside fellow attackman Ryan Springer and midfielder Will Harnick.

Dowiak has 42 goals, and Springer has had a breakout season with 33.

“I think (Springer is) a guy that has really taken on a huge leadership role in our offense this season. He’s always had the skill, but he’s been working hard on eliminating the mistakes that he might have made last year as a junior,” Welty said.

“He’s been our most consistent playmaker offensively, and his calm composure rubs off on the other guys.”

Longstick midfielder Jon Scherer has been a terror on both ends of the field, racking up 14 goals from a position that traditionally does not score at that pace.

“He’s been having an absolutely unbelievable season. He’s not a big talker. He just lets his playing do the talking,” Welty said.

“He’s been aggressive all year long for us, and it’s made a tremendous difference.”

The Rams are highly skilled, but more importantly, they own a wealth of postseason experience. The seniors have qualified for the playoffs every year, which should help the team understand what is expected of them.

“We just need to have a relentless onslaught of effort, and it needs to be overwhelming for us to sustain a level that is required to win in the playoffs. It just takes more effort than winning a regular-season game,” Welty said.

“You have to bear down and just get through playoff games with the win. That’s how it works. We’re not expecting to dominate or be up by 10 goals at halftime. We understand you just have to survive. We’re bearing down for that type of effort.”

Pine-Richland will host the Peters Township-Butler winner at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.


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