Westmoreland high school athletes of the week for the week ending Nov. 6, 2022

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Saturday, November 5, 2022 | 6:48 PM


Ava Hershberger

School: Penn-Trafford

Sport: Field hockey

Class: Junior

Claim to fame: Hershberger helped lead the Warriors to their seventh straight WPIAL Class 2A championship. The Lady Warriors claimed the title with a 4-1 win over Latrobe. Hershberger, an Ohio State commit, scored her 40th goal in the victory, breaking the program’s single-season record.

She has 40 goals and five assists for the season as Penn-Trafford (16-4) preps for the PIAA playoffs.

“Ava strives to be the absolute best she can be,” Penn-Trafford coach Cindy Dutt said. “Ava is unmatched in the WPIAL in terms of her speed of play, skill and game knowledge. She is a model athlete who always demonstrates good sportsmanship. She also has fun.”

Seven straight WPIAL titles are a special accomplishment. This is your third title. Was it any different than the other two?

For the most part it was relatively the same. Going into the championship it is always the pressure to defend the title. This year was a little bit different, however, without my sister, Gwen, being there. The last two years were still kind of new for me since I was still an underclassman and it was her third and fourth time winning, but this year it was different with her in the stands. Luckily, she was able to come home from college for the game.

What made this year’s team a title contender?

The YWCA has a program for 5th through 8th graders in the fall. A handful of Penn-Trafford girls usually do it, and I think it makes a big difference. Even if it is only one or two girls per class, I think having someone your own age to motivate and push you is very beneficial. I joined the YWCA at a young age along with some other girls like Maddy and Mack Keenan. Going into the game, we really wanted it. Towards the end of the season something really clicked within the team, and we really turned it on.

How does P-T keep up the winning tradition?

We know what we have to do and what we need to expect. We practice basically every day, so we are always working really hard.

What was the parade back into town like?

The parade is always lots of fun. The escort back with the fire trucks and ambulances is always cool to see and when we get back to the high school and everyone is there waiting for us. It is nice to get the support, especially for a sport that is not as big in Western PA.

What will it take to succeed in the PIAA playoffs?

PIAA playoffs are always really tough. The teams from out east usually start from such a young age. I think that if we keep up the intensity like we have the last couple of weeks, we have a shot at this first round.

What is your favorite thing about field hockey?

I think my favorite thing would be the bonds I make with other girls. I talk to so many girls from other states that I met from field hockey, and my best friends play, as well. Also, field hockey is what made my sister and I so close. My favorite times are when we go to the field at 6 a.m. in the summer to get field time.

Are you good at any other sports?

I played travel softball from 3rd-8th grade but ended up having to quit to focus on field hockey more.

What other sport did you always want to try?

I actually have always wanted to play football. My sister and I have always made jokes about playing. It would be fun to try football with coach Ruane since that is who we have shared the field with every day for the last three years.

Who is your favorite pro athlete?

Sidney Crosby. I love watching hockey and would always go to Pens games for my birthday growing up.

Any good luck charms?

My pregame meal before big games has to be Jimmy John’s. I love hoagies and usually eat one before every game.

Favorite school lunch?

Probably chicken wraps. I pack lunch every day and usually take chicken wraps.

Favorite TV show?

“Friends.”

Are you still eating Halloween candy?

I am. I don’t have a bunch, but I love Reese’s (Peanut Butter Cups).

Who is your favorite band or musical artist?

Lee Brice.

Do you have any pets, and what are their names?

I have two dogs, Sadie and Nica.

Do you have a sibling rivalry with your sister?

Gwen and I are definitely very competitive with one another. We have always pushed each other the hardest especially since she is a goalie. She thinks that we have a huge rivalry, but I don’t really think we do.

The best advice coach Cindy Dutt ever gave you is ____?

Coach Dutt always has a motto for the year, and this year was “all in.” I really liked it because I think it really shows how important giving 100% effort is at games and even practices.

Nick Bruno

School: Hempfield

Sport: Hockey

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: The 5-foot-4 Bruno, 18, scored two goals and had four assists to help Hempfield defeat Mars, 8-4, on Nov. 3. It was the first win of the season for the Spartans.

Hempfield coach Cory Myers said Bruno is a good leader who shows up at practice ready to work.

He is 21 points from scoring 100 points in his career. He plays 18U for the Pittsburgh Vengeance.

Who got you started in hockey?

My parents loved hockey and encouraged me to play when I was six. I’m glad they did. I love hockey.

How big was the win against Mars?

It was huge. We started the season 0-1-1, and we know we can score a lot of goals. We scored four goals in the third period against Penn-Trafford and then eight against Mars.

With your diminutive size, how are you able to avoid the bigger players?

My speed is a big factor. I use it to skate around the bigger players and avoid their hits. Hockey IQ is another; being in the right spot at the right time.

What is the strength of your game?

My hockey IQ and speed is my strength.

What is your most memorable game?

During my freshman year, we were playing Latrobe in the playoffs. They had a lot of good players, but we battled them. They won 3-2, but I was able to score on a breakaway, which was exciting.

Who is your favorite player?

I’m a Washington Capitals fan, and I like Evgeny Kuznetsov. I like how he plays and how smooth he is. I hear it from my teammates for liking the Capitals. I started to like them when I was 5 years old.

Hockey has taken you to some special places. What’s been the best place?

I went to Las Vegas for camp this past summer, and I had a lot of fun. We visited the Hoover Dam, and the Vegas strip was neat.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

I love going to Italy. We have relatives there, and we go and attend festivals, which are a lot of fun.

Where are you favorite pizza locations?

I like Jioio’s in Greensburg and Dom’s in Trafford. I used to live in Trafford before we moved to Hempfield when I was 7.

Do you have a pregame ritual?

Before leaving the ice, I like to stick handle with myself. I also like to warm up with a soccer ball.

What is your favorite music?

I don’t listen to music. I listen to whatever is on in the locker room.

What is your favorite meal that your mom makes?

I love her pierogies. I can eat them all of the time.

Where is your go-to restaurant before or after a game?

I like a steak, cheese and rice bowl from Chipotle.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

I pick Sidney Crosby because he’s the best. I’d love to talk hockey with him.

Is there anything on your bucket list?

I’ve been to five countries, and I’d like to explore more of Europe.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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