For the boys lacrosse team at Pine-Richland, tonight's home matchup against North Allegheny is the final obstacle on the long-awaited path to WPIAL playoffs.
The team has not been past the regular season for quite some time, and a win against the rival North Allegheny Tigers will end the drought.
The 9-4 Rams will be led by Coach Jim Vollberg, who is very happy with this year’s team, saying, "This is the first time in quite some time we have had a large, experienced senior class. ... All that experience makes for a consistent team."
Tonight's game is also Senior Night, in which the team honors all the seniors on the squad. Three of those seniors—Jacob Savitz, Matt Mahood and Matt Horan—have all committed to play at the next level, but are still focused on winning tonight.
"I feel like our team has played as good as we have in a while, definitely better than last year," said Mahood, a senior who has committed to Seton Hill. "As a player, I feel like I have to make sure the team stays focused and motivated. It is important that we still play our game with the most important part of the season just ahead of us."
Jacob Savitz, a senior captain who has committed to play at Ohio Wesleyan, also had very positive things to say about the team’s season.
"The team has gotten better and better as the season went on," said Savitz, who acknowledged that his performance and leadership will help determine tonight's game. "As a player, I need to help our team defeat North Allegheny with my offense, my defensive riding, and my senior leadership."
Matt Horan, a senior who has committed to Otterbein University, couldn't agree more with his teammates.
"The team is as strong as any other team in the WPIAL this year," said Horan with confidence. "If we play up to our full potential, we have a chance at the WPIAL Lacrosse D1 championship for the first time in our program history."
Horan also stated that he knows what he needs to do as an individual to help the team earn a playoff berth.
"I have to give everything on each shift. I have to remember I have a limited amount of time to play lacrosse and I must make the most of it," said Horan.
One thing that all players and coaches do agree on is talent, and what can come of it in the coming weeks.
“I feel like our team can hang with anyone, but I truly feel that we can make a run if we play our game," said Mahood.
Coach Vollberg is ready to fight, and also has a ton of confidence with his players. "We have potential to win the WPIAL title this season. It will not be easy, but I believe it is not out of our reach," he said.
Be sure to come support your varsity Rams and seniors at 7:30 tonight at home, as they take on the North Allegheny Tigers with a playoff spot on the line!