Pine-Richland field hockey’s Rylie Wollerton fills stat sheet, win column
Saturday, October 24, 2020 | 11:01 AM
Rylie Wollerton is like the last side of a Rubik’s Cube that can’t be solved no matter how much opponents try to twist and turn her away from the cage.
Recently named the September Player of the Month by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, she shows how difficult she is to defend on a nightly basis for Pine-Richland.
Wollerton, a Louisville commit, has sliced through defenses from her midfield position and driven to the cage for 29 goals in 12 games, a new regular season record for the program. Sarah Metzmaier scored 30 combined goals in the 2017 regular season and playoffs.
“It’s a real team effort that leads to every one of my goals,” Wollerton said. “On those plays, I’m just the one who puts it in the cage. It starts with Sadie (Baratka), who commands the defense and tells them where to go. Then you have Elaina (Camino), who is very vocal to tell us midfielders and forwards what to do, which allows us to do more offensively. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to score at all.”
Wollerton’s stick skills, coach Donna Stephenson said, are her greatest strength.
“She’s really good across the board and really carries the ball well with great vision and really strong technique,” Stephenson said. “And she knows the difference between when it’s time to take advantage of an opportunity versus when it’s time to send it to someone else for a better play.”
If Wollerton is given an inch of space to work with, she will let loose sudden, soaring shots on goal, sometimes set up by teammates like Ella Rottinghaus or Fiona Kortyna and other times by her own playmaking prowess.
Wollerton credits Baratka in particular with helping her become a more accurate shooter to finish plays. She often asks the Rams’ goalie to go one on one in between drills and after practice.
“If Sadie stopped my last shot in practice, I have to ask her to keep going and she’s always willing to stay,” Wollerton said. “We might stay 30 minutes, and that starts to add up. We go hard, but it’s fun.”
Wollerton also attributed her development as a player to her family.
She scored her first 50 career high school goals in Chesapeake, Va., where she attended high school until last winter when her family searched for a home in Western Pennsylvania.
Her one request was that they move to a school district with a field hockey team, and Wollerton spent all of two weeks in Pine-Richland’s classrooms before the covid-19 quarantine began.
With few options to meet teammates and practice, her parents put turf in the garage and the family faced her in two-on-one and three-on-one scrimmages through the spring and summer. She has to score 10 goals to win, and her family, notorious for treating the rules as suggestions, has to score three.
“It definitely makes me think outside the box when I play against them,” Wollerton said. “They’ll body me and do things you’re definitely not allowed to do in a game. It makes me more prepared. There was one time this summer I played against my little brother and my mom. My brother held me down as my mom went and scored the goal, and they counted it.”
Despite winning less than half of the time against her rule-bending family, Rylie has helped lead the Rams to an undefeated regular season and into the playoffs, where they will try to become back-to-back champions.
“Whatever is going to help us win and move on to our championship goals, that’s what I want to do,” Wollerton said. “That’s definitely more important than me scoring goals.”
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