Pine-Richland field hockey claims back-to-back WPIAL championships

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 | 10:49 PM

Pine-Richland’s field hockey team can call itself a dynasty.

The Rams won their second consecutive WPIAL Class 3A championship and third title in four years.

“This feels amazing,” senior captain Elaina Camino said as she held on to the championship trophy. “Coming in as a freshman three years ago, I didn’t know what to expect, so this is definitely incredible to be in four finals and to win three.”

In the third consecutive championship game between No. 1 Pine-Richland and No. 2 Peters Township, the Rams won 3-0 to go undefeated in WPIAL action this season. They were led in the scoring department by three juniors.

Riley Kirby scored the game-winning, one-timer goal for the Rams less than one minute into the first period off an assist from Fiona Kortyna.

“I was really nervous at first when Fiona dribbled up and passed it off to me, but I got a clear shot,” Kirby said. “We’ve done drills the last couple practices to one-time it into the goal, so that definitely paid off, and I just couldn’t believe it.”

Rylie Wollerton added an insurance goal to start the third period, and Kortyna added another score minutes later on Pine-Richland’s eighth corner attempt.

“Scoring first was awesome and so exciting for all of us,” senior captain Ella Rottinghaus said. “I thought it gave us a lot of momentum and showed the other team we were here to play and we were here to win.”

Pine-Richland goalie Sadie Baratka and her defense fended off several high-quality scoring opportunities against Peters Township, particularly in the first and fourth periods.

Peters Township coach Melanie Cocco called it the Indians’ most complete game of the year against the Rams.

“I’m proud of them, because they’ve only gotten better this season, and they showed that here,” Cocco said. “We played the Rams twice earlier this season, and each time we got a little bit better. I’m really proud I have a really great group of girls who work really hard together.”

The Indians were led by nine seniors, including their top playmaker Cassidy King.

“More than half of those girls I’ve coached since seventh grade and have moved up through the years with them, so they’re super special to me,” Cocco said. “Even the girls who haven’t been with me since seventh grade are special to me. They all love the sport and always bring up morale and intensity. They are the type of leaders you want to have on a team.”

Pine-Richland, which has not trailed in a game this season, will move on to the PIAA tournament, where it hasn’t won a game in program history, a goal the Rams want to check off.

“We’re going to focus on defense, because now we’ll probably have to be on that end a little more than we’re used to,” Pine-Richland coach Donna Stephenson said. “That’s why it’s nice to have these games against teams like Peters Township, North Allegheny and Mt. Lebanon … and now we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play in states.”

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