Penn-Trafford field hockey coach Cindy Dutt assigned some homework during the top-seeded Warriors’ playoff bye. She made it mandatory for her players to attend No. 3 Latrobe’s opening-round match with No. 2 Oakland Catholic.
“They were required to come to my field and watch them play,” Dutt said. “They had to make notes. We definitely were able to pick out Latrobe’s strengths, and there are quite a few, and they have a little bit more depth than Oakland Catholic.”
With the match played at Penn-Trafford, it turned out to be the equivalent to an open-book test. The Warriors put those notes to good use by taking an early lead and rolling to a 2-0 win over Latrobe and claim its third straight WPIAL Class AA title Tuesday night at Fox Chapel.
“I spoke with them before the warmups, and I said, ‘Ladies, we did everything we needed to get here, and you really played a really hard season and from here on out captains, you take the game from this point. I’m out,’” Dutt said. “It’s their game at (that) point. We (coaches) can’t do anything else.”
Penn-Trafford (4-0) moves to the PIAA Class AA tournament and will face the District 3 third-place finisher Nov. 6 with the time, location and opponent yet to be determined.
“We probably played our best hockey (in the first half), and we told the kids ahead of time that we’re not going to have too many chances against these guys,” Latrobe coach Jeff Giordan said.
Penn-Trafford came out with an overwhelming attack and cashed in almost right away. Sophomore forward Allyson Doran was left all alone in front of the cage and scored the game’s first goal 3 minutes, 2 seconds into the match. It was Doran’s fifth goal of the season.
“It was good to score early in the game to get a good start,” Doran said. “Latrobe backed up a little bit off of us, and they were around me after that.”
Getting a goal early took the edge off and allowed for the Warriors to play their game.
“(The first goal) was wonderful,” Dutt said. “I think that surprised them a bit. We spent the entire game pretending that we were down by two goals.”
The Latrobe (2-3) offense didn’t find its rhythm until the midway point of the first half. The Wildcats traveled down the field on free hits before they were able to make their first serious attack on Warriors’ junior goalie Samantha Doherty.
“We told them before that we have to put numbers up on the board. Zeroes aren’t going to win us the game,” Giordan said.
The Wildcats controlled the pace of play in the last 15 minutes of the first half. Latrobe had a golden opportunity with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half when senior midfielder Max McMichael dribbled down the far sideline and sent a crossing pass into the shooting circle to two awaiting Wildcat attackers, but neither could settle ball long enough to get control and take a shot.
“Give credit to them with that scramble in front of the goal. That could have changed the game,” Giordan said.
The Warriors and dominated the second half. Doran notched her sixth goal of the season with 24:48 remaining in the second half. The Wildcats seemed to lose their offensive rhythm as well.
Doran had a shot at a hat trick at the midway point of the second half, but her shot was turned away by Wildcats senior goalie Sarah Seremet, who came out of the cage to cut down the shooting angle. At that point, the Wildcats were not only competing against the Warriors but also the clock.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.