Pine-Richland finally solves Peters Township in OT to win 5th straight WPIAL field hockey crown
Saturday, November 4, 2023 | 7:13 PM
If anyone was looking for an evenly matched contest with a marvelous display of skill, the WPIAL Class 3A field hockey final was the game to watch.
Goals? That would be a luxury the crowd at Cameron Stadium at Washington and Jefferson College would have to wait for.
“I knew that when we got into overtime, we would just have to push it and give it our all,” said Rottinghaus. “I’m really proud of the entire team.”
The goal gave the Rams their fifth straight WPIAL Class 3A championship and sixth in the last seven years.
“We’ve been in the playoffs the last 10 years,” said Pine-Richland coach Donna Stephenson. “We have a very strong team that plays for each other. That lends itself to great team chemistry and culture.”
Both No. 2 Peters Township (13-5-2) and Pine-Richland had multiple chances but could not get the ball in the cage as the scoreless stalemate continued.
“I think it was an intense game and we were expecting it,” said Stephenson. “Peters is a sound program with an excellent coaching staff. Hats off to them on their performance. They really made us work hard.”
“We were competitive. We were aggressive. We played to the ball,” said Peters coach Kelly Meenan.
As the game wore on, top-seeded Pine-Richland (19-0) upped the offensive pressure, forcing Peters to play more in its own zone. Eventually, the Rams were able to capitalize on Peters’ softening defense.
“We saw that in the third and fourth quarter and overtime,” said Rottinghaus. “So, we knew what we needed to get the ball upfield and take a lot of quick shots.”
“I think we dominated the time of possession,” said Stephenson. “But they made us work for everything. They stopped a lot of our hits upfield. They’re a formidable competitor.”
The Rams had two good chances early in the third quarter when they set up for a penalty corner. Sophomore Anna Merlack’s inbounds pass reached the edge of the circle and was intercepted by Peters.
After Peters ramped up pressure, the Indians got another crack at a corner. This time junior Anna Kokoszynski got off a missile from the top of the circle and the ball careened towards the right side of the cage, just missing a teammate’s stick and falling harmlessly away.
Another golden chance for the Rams presented itself at the 13-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Merlack fed a pass across the front of the net, but senior Khushi Saini could not get her stick down to force it at the goal.
Peter Township’s best opportunity of the second half came with 6:30 left in regulation when sophomore Madelyn Sirinek found junior Bella Elm wide open in front. Rams goalkeeper Sara Neuhart made the stop.
“The girls have been working their tails off since spring and have been continually showing up,” said Meenan. “No matter if we win or lose games, we move forward and figure out what’s going to happen in the next step.”
The Rams countered with a barrage on Peters keeper Grace Urban. In the span of 10 seconds, Urban faced shots from Albertson, Rottinghaus and junior Madeline Mill. Urban turned all three away with outstanding kick saves.
Pine-Richland will face an opponent from District 3 or 6 when the PIAA playoffs kick off Tuesday.
More High School Field Hockey• Quartet of WPIAL players selected to all-state field hockey teams
• Westmoreland County Senior Spotlight: Latrobe’s Belle Blossey
• Coaches association names 2023 WPIAL field hockey all-stars
• Manheim Central gets off to fast start, prevents Penn-Trafford from claiming 1st PIAA field hockey win
• Penn-Trafford field hockey in search of elusive PIAA victory