Pine-Richland field hockey team seeks elusive state title

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Friday, November 1, 2019 | 6:37 PM


The Pine-Richland field hockey team won the WPIAL Class AAA championship again after toppling reigning champ Peters Township, 2-0, on Oct. 28 at Fox Chapel. It was the program’s second title in the past three seasons.

Pine-Richland also won in 2017.

The Rams stood tall on defense and received a shut-out performance from senior goalie Abby Baratka.

On offense, Fiona Kortyna scored the team’s first goal, and Ava Loskoch had the second goal.

The key plays made by Kortyna, a sophomore, and Loskoch, a senior and Allegheny commit, served as a microcosm of how the Rams have maintained their success over the years, said coach Donna Stephenson. Skilled underclassmen and experienced upperclassmen combined to formulate a team-based approach.

“I read a quote that says ‘When older players are willing to help out younger players, when starters are willing to help out their backups, that is when you know you have a championship culture,’ “ Stephenson said. “I think that’s true. We have really strong leaders. The seniors are great, and they’re so cohesive together. They’ve really brought along the underclassmen and helped them develop.

“All the girls are driven to achieve, and they’re dedicated to doing it together. This is what they’re able to accomplish when they strive to do it together.”

The Rams advanced to the PIAA Class AAA tournament for the fourth time in as many years. In each of those previous trips, Pine-Richland was ousted in the first round.

All season, the team has worked to accomplish its goals. Now, Stephenson said, the players have a chance to accomplish their final objective — the only one that has eluded them over the last four seasons.

“That’s a big goal for them, to advance farther in states,” she said. “They set out a list of goals at the beginning of the season: win the division, go undefeated, perform better in the tournaments we participate in, win our district and go farther in states.

“Up until this point, there’s checkmarks next to all of those things. The next goal is to perform better in states, and I’m looking forward to starting that on Tuesday.”

Pine-Richland will play the third-place finisher from District 3 on Tuesday, at a time and site that is yet to be determined.

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