Emotional North Catholic Holds On To Win Class 3A Girls Title
PITTSBURGH— In the hours leading up to the WPIAL Girls 3A Championship, Northern Catholic coach Molly Rottmann was alongside senior guard Anastasia Peterson as she attended the funeral of her mother Jennifer, who died Feb. 28.
For Anastasia, there was no doubt that she would take to the pitch, as she did for the team’s semi-final, a day after her mother passed away.
“The last few days have been difficult not only mentally, but also physically,” she said. “That was one of the things she said to me before she passed, she told me she wanted me on the pitch.”
In the closing stages of the championship game against Freedom Area, when North Catholic needed a field goal, Peterson delivered a jump shot that saw the entire Trojanette bench on their feet screaming approval and encouragement.
“I can’t say enough how amazing she was,” Rottmann said. “We talked about it and her mother was Jennifer Peterson, what better place to win for her and Anastasia. The girls have been really great and it continues and her teammates have been supporting her all the time. This shot tonight was huge, we needed it.
A year after falling short in the championship match, top-seeded North Catholic managed to defeat Freedom 48-43 Thursday night at the Petersen Events Center to win the WPIAL Girls 3A Championship.
North Catholic trailed for 25 minutes the entire contest and, due to injuries, started a five-guard lineup, including five-foot-seven guard Anna Waskiewicz who saw time in the position.
“What they’ve been through and what they’ve had to adapt to with injuries and people out of position, we put people all over the place to make things work,” Rottmann said. “They have bought into it and are doing everything that needs to be done. They showed incredible ferocity in the face of adversity.
This is Rottmann’s 10th title and given the circumstances, one of his most special seasons.
Sophomore Alayna Rocco led North Catholic with 15 points, while junior Dacia Lewandowski scored 13 points. Junior Victoria Drevna also had double-digit total points with her 11.
Freedom was in this stage for the first time and kept the game tight for most of the evening.
Senior guard Renae Mohrbacher, committed to Robert Morris women’s soccer, scored a double-double with her 18 points and 12 rebounds and left it all on the field, which included a miss in the final seconds, where her leg sagged. is contracted, briefly keeping on the ground in a seated position. Second-year goaltender Shaye Bailey added 11 points.
As a team, Freedom scored 28 of his 43 points in the paint, though he didn’t convert a two-point jumpshot all night.
Despite the loss, less than 10 minutes later, the players on the pitch put up with it well. The Bulldogs had never been in this position before and played David against North Catholic’s Goliath and nearly pulled off the upset.
“From the start of the year we thought we were one of the best teams in 3A and tonight was not a disappointment,” Freedom coach John Kaercher said. “We came here and faced the giant. Unfortunately, we missed a little tonight, but we will have our turn.
In the final minutes, the game was determined by North Catholic’s ability to make free throws, which was inconsistent in the first three quarters, but with the game on the line, the Trojanettes delivered.
“We knew we had to be confident and stay balanced on the pitch no matter what happened,” Lewandowski said. “We just stuck together as a team and went all the way.”
Now, both teams will turn their collective attention to the state playoffs, which begin on Tuesday.
“I still think we can go far in the states,” Mohrbacher said. “We played a good game despite everything, even with a loss, so we just have to take that and use it as motivation for our game which comes on Tuesday.”
As Rottman left the media room, she regaled the assembled press with the t-shirts her father had made for the team.
It was a design with a special message and a specific purpose.
“Unfinished business and it’s a catch-all for a lot of things,” she said. “From the start, these girls had big aspirations, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”