Pine-Richland field hockey looks to finish in postseason

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Monday, October 16, 2017 | 12:01 AM


Not much more could be asked of the Pine-Richland field hockey team.

Last year's WPIAL Class AAA runners-up steamrolled their way through the regular season this year.

Through 15 games, the Rams are the top-ranked team in Section 1-AAA with an 8-0 mark and have posted the best mark in Class AAA overall with a 13-2 record.

Pine-Richland has tallied 81 goals and allowed just 11.

Team captain Sarah Metzmaier has outscored the Rams' oppoents with 26 goals and 17 assists.

Pine-Richland has been strong defensively as well. Sophomore goalkeeper Abby Baratka has eight shutouts.

“It's not just the defense in the backfield, the whole team has to play defense,” Pine-Richland coach Donna Stephenson said. “A lot of that comes from the strength in the midfield. We have Marina Miller and Molly Rottinghaus as the linchpins in the midfield with Alora Sharron, who has really stepped up.

“Ella Rottinghaus is starting now, too, and has done a great job. Then with Sarah Mooney, Ava Loskoch and Keegan Kline, they've just been a tremendous force in the backfield together.”

Despite all the success, Stephenson is asking for more from her team.

She watched them bowl over opponents last season in a number of ways, just like this season.

But this time year, she wants the Rams to peak at the right time.

“We're doing things a little different, because we do worry about it. Last year, I thought we peaked in the WPIAL semifinals game,” Stephenson said.

“We did play decent against Fox Chapel in the title game, but I think we could have been better. I think we could have come out with a win if we were better prepared. And when we got to states, I think we could have played better.”

Part of the solution is to adjust the team's playing style so it is more in line with officals call. Another approach she employs focuses on enhanced preparation.

“We're being really disciplined about how we're using our practices between now and through the postseason,” she said. “We're adding in a postseason scrimmage, and we're focusing on conditioning the girls more.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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