Pine-Richland girls lacrosse has plenty of returning experience

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Friday, April 5, 2019 | 5:14 PM


Over the course of the last two seasons, the Pine-Richland girls lacrosse program has established itself as the cream of the WPIAL Class AAA crop, racking up a 31-4 record against district opponents and winning back-to-back WPIAL championships.

There has been some turnover on the Rams (3-0, 1-0) roster since last season, so it would be fair to expect a few growing pains here and there.

Still, the team has performed well in its early challenges, specifically in a 8-7 double overtime victory against WPIAL Class AAA playoff quarterfinalist Upper St. Clair.

“That was a very competitive game. It was physical, and it was just a good experience for the girls to feel that kind of pressure early on in the year,” coach Brittany Adams said.

“The girls are adjusting well, with some younger girls stepping up into their new roles. Our alumni, of course they’ll be missed, and they leave large shoes to fill but we have some returning varsity (players) again, and some newer sophomores and juniors that are ready to step up.”

While they graduated a handful of players, including all-time leading scorer Marina Miller, the strength of the Rams program appears to be in its depth of talent.

A consistent strength over the years for the team has been its ability to keep its opponents out of the net. That figures to hold up this year as senior goalkeeper Abby Levier, a US Lacrosse All-American last season, is back to mind the net for Pine-Richland. Levier is a Robert Morris lacrosse commit.

In front of Levier, the team’s defensive unit features a trio of seniors in Carly Switala, Hannah Rust and Becca Shepard. Rust and Switala already are committed to playing college lacrosse, with Rust heading to John Carroll and Switala going to Shippensburg.

The team’s final and newest defensive starter, Katelyn Terchick, already has integrated herself well.

The sophomore was awarded the team’s traditional goat, a talisman given one of the team’s players after each game for recognition of her efforts, once already this season.

“We have some very strong defensive players stepping back into their roles,” Adams said.

“And the players that are stepping into newer roles are doing well. Katelyn Terchick has caused quite a few turnovers in our first few games, and in the midfield, Mia Petzuk is doing a good job transitioning in.”

The midfield also appears to be stacked for Pine-Richland as the unit features the team’s top two leading scorers in senior Kendall Gessner and junior Meghan Luellen, as well Petzuk, a sophomore.

Gessner, who scored her 100th career goal in the first game of the season, is committed to playing for John Carroll at the next level.

Perhaps the most experienced unit is the attack, featuring seniors Lauren Juncal, Maeve Barton and Isabelle Foster.

Those returning players are championship tested and continue to benefit from that experience as they become elder stateswomen and leaders.

“I think the experience of our returning players, just feeling that excitement and accomplishment from winning a championship, it helps naturally drive the season,” Adams said.

“They’ve gone through the grind in order to get to the WPIAL championship. They know what it takes, and they’ve won it all, and that experience just feeds their drive to get back there.”

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