Defending champion Penn-Trafford looking for three-peat
For the second straight season, the Penn-Trafford girls golf team enters matches with a target on its back because of its status as the defending WPIAL champion.
Coach Ed Herbst hopes the 2014 Warriors can follow the example of their predecessors and win another title.
Penn-Trafford began the season with a 183-184 loss Monday afternoon against Upper St. Clair. Still, the team hopes to contend for its third consecutive WPIAL championship this season.
This season's team is more inexperienced than the 2013 squad, which featured three seniors in the starting lineup, two of whom were four-year starters. Two starters return from last season, but the other three spots in the lineup will be filled by inexperienced returners.
“We have driving range experience, but we don't have long-course, match-play experience,” coach Ed Herbst said. “So we're going to have to learn how to win and learn how to hate to lose. The teams the past couple of years have had that mentality.”
Seniors Royse Bachtel, Casey Doran and Rachael Huber graduated after last season. Bachtel and Doran were four-year starters.
“It's hard to replace those kids,” Herbst said. “What we're hoping for is that we can get four scores out of the five. I have six players for the five spots, so we're just hoping to get four good scores out of the five in each match we play. As far as trying to replace those kids, that's something I don't even consider right now.”
Sophomore Amanda Conner and senior Elisabeth Papa return as starters to the Warriors' lineup, and Herbst said he expected both of them to be leaders for this year's squad.
“I'm going to try my best to set a good example for everyone,” Conner said.
Seniors Abby Bechtell, Morgan Cermak and Maddie Vitelli and sophomore Alyssa Farrell will compete for the other three spots in the Penn-Trafford lineup. All four players were members of last season's team but didn't start.
“I think they're going to do pretty well,” Conner said. “They realize they have to score well with us, so they're going to have to take it pretty seriously and do the best they can.”
With the Warriors' status as defending champions, Herbst said the players need to approach each match with a specific mentality.
“(The players) saw Royse, Casey and Rachael, and they were around for (2012 seniors) Haley (Borkovich), Mia (Barchetti) and Morgan (Rector),” Herbst said. “So they saw how to prepare and what it takes to be a winner, and they saw that attitude of not to be denied.”
Penn-Trafford hosted Peters Township on Tuesday, past the deadline for this week's edition, and will open section play against Franklin Regional on Thursday.
The Warriors will compete in Section 3-AAA against Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana and Norwin. Penn-Trafford won the past five section titles and had undefeated section records each of the past four seasons.
“Our goal is to always win the section first and then be in the WPIAL (hunt),” Herbst said. “Three years ago, we lost (the WPIAL championship) by four strokes, and then we won it back to back the last two years. Hopefully, we're going to be in a position where we can get to Cedarbrook (Golf Course) and play for the title.”