Pine-Richland wins 2nd WPIAL field hockey title in 3 years

Monday, October 28, 2019 | 9:25 PM

Top-seeded Pine-Richland and #No. 4 Peters Township met last season in the WPIAL Class 3A field hockey championship.

The Indians earned the title with a 2-1 win in overtime on a penalty stroke. The championship was the first for Peters Township in nine years.

The Rams didn’t have to wait that long to hoist their next trophy.

Pine-Richland defeated Peters Township, 2-0, on Monday at Fox Chapel to capture its second championship in three years.

Peters Township coach Melanie Cocco obviously was disappointed with the loss.

“It was nice to come off the win last year. We played a great first half.”

It was a scoreless first half between two strong defensive teams, but it was not without chances for both sides.

Even though the Rams didn’t score in the first half, Pine-Richland coach Donna Stephenson wasn’t displeased.

“We talked about trying to keep playing our game. We were dominating if you look at the number of penalty corners in the first half and possession, we controlled the game,” she said. “It was just a matter of getting it (the ball) in and being more aggressive.”

Rams senior Ava Loskoch hit the post with a shot early in the match, the first of two good scoring opportunities for the midfielder in the opening 30 minutes. Pine-Richland’s Elaina Camino and Ella Rottinghaus also had good scoring chances later in the half.

The best chance for the Indians came off the stick Cassidy King, who narrowly missed a rebound goal at the near post.

Pine-Richland broke the scoreless tie at 7 minutes, 16 seconds of the second half. After a restart, Heide van Dyk fired a shot that was stopped by the Indians’ Sarah Rubican, but Fiona Kortyna gathered the rebound and slid it into the net to put the Rams up 1-0.

“It was really just getting it in and getting sticks on it and putting pressure on their goalie,” Stephenson said. “Their goalie’s pretty good, so we talked about not just putting a shot on, you have to work to go around her.”

Cocco said: “After that first goal, we pulled them off with 22 minutes left and told them that goal meant nothing. But after the second goal, I think it started to get into the players’ heads.”

Pine-Richland, who had a 10-6 advantage in penalty corners, finally converted on its last one. Camino fed a pass to Loskoch, and the Allegheny College recruit fired a shot past Rubican for a 2-0 lead 15:35 into the second half.

Asked if one goal would be enough, Stephenson didn’t think so.

“We told them we have a two-minute rule where anything can happen,” Stephenson said about her team. “Momentum can swing after a goal. That’s the time when you put the gas on and keep coming.”

The Rams, who only allowed two goals against WPIAL competition all season, held Peters Township without a shot for most of the second half.

The Indians registered only two shots in the half, one late off a penalty corner. Peters Township, who had a penalty corner as the clock expired, finished with four shots on goal.

Rubican, a junior goalkeeper, finished with five saves for Peters Township. Her counterpart, senior Abby Baratka stopped all four Indians shots.

Both teams will head to the state playoffs and both the Rams and the Indians will stay busy during the wait for the PIAA tournament.

“We’re going to focus on some stick skills and passing drills,” said Stephenson. “Then the day before, we will work on game play scrimmaging.”

The Indians will have a similar plan for the state playoffs.

“The plan is to take a day off,” Cocco said. “Then when we get back to practicing this week. We’ll continue to play in these game-type situations and getting better with our stick skills.”

Stephenson, who is in her 6th year of her second stint at Pine-Richland, thinks her team will be prepared for the state playoffs.

“We have the experience. This is our fourth year in the WPIAL finals and our fourth going to states,” she said. “It’s that experience and desire. They don’t want to be done after the first round of states.”

Pine-Richland will face the third-place finisher from District 3, and the Indians will face the second-place team District 3 on Nov. 5.

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