Talented, experienced Pine-Richland field hockey set to begin title defense
Friday, August 31, 2018 | 10:45 PM
On the heels of winning the program’s first WPIAL championship, the Pine-Richland field hockey team returns plenty of talent and experience with the hopes of mounting a successful title defense.
Having graduated only three starters, the Rams return starters in the midfield, defense and forward positional groups, as well as their goalkeeper.
Coach Donna Stephenson said she doesn’t expect a repeat championship run to come easily, but with all of that returning talent, she admitted her team possesses some noticeable strengths.
“We’re fit, and we’re fast,” Stephenson said.
“That alone makes it hard for other teams to beat us, just based off of those two dimensions. Then, you add in skill —we have some really highly skilled players — and then the experience we have. We’ll be tough. But I’m just glad we have girls that love the sport and love playing with each other.”
On the forward line, the team returns starters Alexa Sharron and Clare Loftus, and Kirsten Chilcoat and Jordan Landreneau vie for the final starting spot. In addition to the starters, seniors Corri Dunn and Becca Roth will add depth as role players.
A pair of senior captains, Vivian Cavanaugh and Alora Sharron, will lead the Rams’ midfield unit. Ella Rottinghaus, a sophomore, also will return to start after playing a significant role on last year’s team.
Cavanaugh finished last year as Pine-Richland’s second-leading scorer, and will serve as a scoring threat on what should be one of the stronger midfield groups in the WPIAL.
“I expect Vivian to do well. She’s just a finisher. She can get the job done in the circle,” Stephenson said.
“But she doesn’t have to do it all. We have other girls in Alexa, Ella, Jordan, Clare and Kirsten, and those are all girls that we’re expecting to see good steps forward from.”
In the backfield, Stephenson describes experienced junior Ava Loskoch as the team’s defensive leader. Along with Loskoch, the Rams will start Keegan Kline, Elaina Camino and Heidi Van Dyk, while Lauren Peterman, Kaitlyn Stenson and Emily McNaughton are expected to serve as role players.
Another sophomore for Pine-Richland, Natalie Loftus, looks to be a potential player on the rise on the defense.
“She’s going to be on the JV team, too, but we’re looking for great things from her. We think she could become a great role player for us at the varsity level this season,” Stephenson said.
At goalkeeper, junior Abby Baratka will defend her team’s net after starting all last season. Baratka’s backup will be her younger sister, freshman Sadie Baratka.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.