Penn-Trafford field hockey team's offense picks up in second half
Penn-Trafford field hockey coach Cindy Dutt had some concerns with the state of her team's offense at the midway point of the season.
Those concerns lessened down the stretch.
The Warriors (12-4) scored 36 goals over the final 10 games of the season, including two contests apiece where they scored four, five and seven goals.
While the team missed the playoffs after winning the WPIAL Class AAA title in 2011 and finishing as the runner-up last season, Dutt saw plenty of reason to be optimistic moving forward.
“I can say that all of us — all of the girls — were disappointed we didn't make it in the playoffs,” Dutt said. “I still consider it a very successful season because we went 12-4, and we lost to two teams I think are the best in the WPIAL this year (two losses each to section opponents Pine-Richland and North Allegheny).
“ ... I think we did very well. There's a lot more competition in our section.”
While the team's defense played a strong role all season, the offense picked it up in the second half of the year.
Coming into the season, the Warriors were tasked with the chore of replacing Amanda Steffey, the leading scorer in the state last season. The team scored 10 goals in the first six games of the season, going 4-2 in those games.
While Penn-Trafford was shut out twice during the second half of the season, against Pine-Richland and North Allegheny, Dutt said she saw a number of players step up to contribute on the score sheet, including seniors Morgan LeVeille and Angela Sciulli and juniors Kat Hier and Isabel Siergiej.
“My forwards did finish pretty strong,” Dutt said. “We were able to work in a couple of the (junior varsity) players, and I think they worked out well.”
In addition to the scoring uptick, Dutt said she was “completely thrilled” with the way the defense played. Goalkeeper Jessica Wisniewski suffered a concussion in the second half of the season, and sophomore Christina Bauer stepped into the starting lineup in her place.
“The defense worked with (Bauer) beautifully,” Dutt said. “And I thought our midfield was really strong. I was comfortable with our bench. I was really, really happy with the way we played.”
Penn-Trafford will lose many of its strong defensive players heading into next season, as six starters will graduate from this year's team.
That includes the entire starting backfield as well as two of the three forwards.
Graduating seniors include Tori Lago, LeVeille, Lindsay Loughner, Taylor Nedley, Sciulli and Wisniewski.
“They brought a lot of cadence and calm to the play,” Dutt said. “There was no one really overanxious or agitated about pushing the play. I thought they were more calm motivators.”
Penn-Trafford will have a strong crop of incoming seniors next year with the likes of Hier, Siergiej, Julie Donald and Anna Taylor. The current underclassmen will look to take Penn-Trafford back to the postseason.
“I think the young girls are motivated,” Dutt said. “I think next year could be a very good year as well. ... We have a solid midfield, and I'm thrilled about that, but we have to really push and develop some of those underclassmen to take up the slack.”