Pine-Richland field hockey continues to build on success
By: Ray Fisher
Friday, November 9, 2018 | 6:45 PM
Pine-Richland’s field hockey team has been a WPIAL finalist in four of the past five seasons, including each of the last three years.
The No. 2-seeded P-R squad, the defending WPIAL Class AAA champion in 2018, lost a close 2-1 overtime decision to No. 1 Peters Township to finish second in the WPIAL this season.
“We are excited about the program that we’ve built over the past five years,” coach Donna Stephenson said. “The girls want to build upon these successes and keep adding more to the trophy case and to the banners hanging in the gym. The girls are pushing the program to get better and go farther each season.”
The Rams advanced to the state playoffs where they lost a 7-0 first-round decision to District 3 runner-up Penn Manor. Pine-Richland ended up 6-3-2.
“We had a great season, coming in second place (in the WPIAL),” Stephenson said, “though our goal was to win the WPIAL back-to-back. We were a strong, competitive team, though we did not connect enough in the circle to score more goals than we should have.
“We were disappointed with the outcome of the WPIAL championship. The ref called a penalty stroke in sudden-victory overtime. We felt the correct call should have been a penalty corner. We obviously can’t change the call and Peters was able to score on the penalty stroke. It’s fuel for us to push forward for next season.”
The team’s leading scorers were sophomore forward Ella Rottinghaus, with three goals and nine assists, or 15 poivents; junior defensive midfielder Ava Loskoch, with six goals and one assist; plus junior midfielders Heidi Van Dyk, four goals, five assists, and Alexa Sharron, four goals, four assists.
The Rams’ starting lineup consisted of sophomore Jordan Landreneau, senior Clare Loftus and Rottinghaus at forward; senior Alora Sharron, junior Alexa Sharron and Van Dyk at midfield; Loskoch at the cover position; junior Keegan Kline, and sophomores Elaina Camino and Natalie Loftus on defense; and junior goalkeeper Abby Baratka, who wrapped up the WPIAL season with a save-percentage of 89 percent.
Alora Sharron was a four-year varsity starter at midfield and a team captain in 2018.
“Being a (four-year) starter was motivation to work harder for myself and for my team,” she said. “I am extremely proud of the team’s performance this year. We had a lot of ups and downs, but never let it get to our heads. This attitude took us all the way to the WPIAL championship game.
“The strength of our team was definitely our athleticism. We have several skilled and fast girls who contributed a lot to our play. These strengths allowed for some big wins this year.”
Sharron, a scholar-athlete who owns a 4.07 GPA, has committed to Christopher Newport University in Virginia, where she will continue her field hockey career and pursue a degree in international business and marketing.
“I am very excited to know I don’t have to say good-bye to field hockey just yet,” she said. “At first, I was looking into Christopher Newport just because of the size and location. I knew I wanted a smaller school and some place sunny, and CNU had both of those things. When I had heard from their coach, I knew it was the right fit. Given the chance to play field hockey at CNU was the ultimate deciding factor.”
The leading reserves for the Rams included sophomore forward Kirsten Chilcoat, senior forward Meg O’Connor, junior midfielder Anna Kosanovich, senior defenders Lauren Peterman and Emily McNaughton, and freshman goalkeeper Sadie Baratka.
“We worked as a team in playing a possession game, by passing well and using everyone on the field,” Stephenson said. “We also have some very skilled players, and our team is known as being fit and fast. We has a strong defense, and a great goalie and great backup goalie.”
Pine-Richland’s starters consisted two seniors, five juniors and four sophomores.
“Our starting lineup changed with injuries over the course of the season,” Stephenson said.
One of the high points for the P-R girls was a trip to Hershey in September for the Falcon Invitational, where the Rams faced top competition from other regions in Pennsylvania.
“The WPIAL realigned this year, and the result was a more competitive division, which was a good thing,” Stephenson said. “One highlight was the trip out east to play in a tournament at Lower Dauphin, which won the District 3 championship. We felt this was a good experience to start seeing this level of play prior to the playoffs.”
Sharron was one of eight seniors on this year’s Rams squad. Her fondest memory from her varsity career?
“There are too many memories to chose from,” she said, “but winning WPIALs last year happens to be one of the greatest. Sharing these experiences with some of the best girls I know makes everything that much more special.
“I was lucky enough to play along side my sister, Alexa, for three years (at P-R) and am sad to see that end. But I can’t wait to see the future of Pine-Richland field hockey as I know it will be successful.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.