Pine-Richland completes WPIAL Class 3A field hockey 3-peat

Saturday, October 30, 2021 | 9:48 PM

The Pine-Richland Rams proved once again to be the dominant force in WPIAL Class 3A field hockey, as they defeated North Allegheny, 3-1, to capture a third straight title Saturday night at Washington & Jefferson.

“It’s been a hunger to do it again, but it wasn’t necessarily pressure to do it a third time,” Pine-Richland coach Donna Stephenson said. “This team is special; they really wanted it.”

The Rams’ game breaker — senior midfielder Rylie Wollerton — put the Rams ahead 1-0 when she converted a penalty corner 6 minutes, 13 seconds into the game.

“She got one in for us right away, an early goal which was really important. That set the tone,” Stephenson said of the Louisville recruit with more than 100 career goals.

Wollerton put her skills on display early in the third quarter, when she banged home a reverse chip to make the score 2-0.

“Her vision is such that the other team has to stop when she has the ball,” Stephenson said. “She’s definitely a difference maker.”

Trailing by two goals, North Allegheny (12-8) got a spark when junior Lauren Kampi converted the Tigers’ fifth penalty corner with 6:03 remaining in the game to make the score 2-1. That goal was just the sixth allowed by Pine-Richland this season.

“NA is always a formidable opponent, strong passionate competitors,” Stephenson said. “I have nothing but accolades for that staff and their program.”

The Rams were able to capitalize on their seventh penalty corner in the game’s final minute to put the contest out of reach, when Georgia Rottinghaus batted in a high rebound out of the air to make the final score 3-1.

“What I’m really proud of, is that the entire team retained their composure,” Stephenson said.

It was Pine-Richland’s sixth straight championship game appearance; the Rams claimed their fourth title in the last five seasons.

The next challenge for Pine-Richland (17-0) is the PIAA playoffs. Stephenson, the only coach in Pine-Richland field hockey history, was asked if she would make any adjustments for the state tournament.

“It’s hard to adjust your game plan once you play a certain way all season, and to try and do things differently,” she said. “We did that last year and kind of hung tight for the first half. I don’t want to change our game plan much either as we are an attacking team that goes fast with the ball. We have a good week or so to prepare.”

Pine-Richland lost in last year’s PIAA playoffs 5-0 to Central Dauphin. The PIAA playoffs begin Nov. 9.

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