What a difference a year makes for the Penn-Trafford High School girls golf team.
In 2011, the Warriors gave another group of Warriors from Central Valley all they could handle before falling by four strokes in an exciting WPIAL Division II golf championship at Cedarbrook Golf Club in Rostraver.
A year later, the same two teams were back again competing for a WPIAL championship. But everything had changed. This time, both groups of Warriors were wearing smiles.
Penn-Trafford's attitude was fueled by the belief that its team could compete at the sport's highest level, and it did, compiling 338 strokes and defeating runner-up North Allegheny by 18.
As for Central Valley, that group of Warriors recorded 341 strokes and was the only team in the Class AA field to break 400.
Under the format used a year ago, it would have meant more heartbreak for Central Valley as Penn-Trafford would have recorded a three-stroke victory to earn what at the time was the only berth for girls golf teams hoping to advance beyond the WPIAL tournament.
Now, however, both Penn-Trafford and Central Valley will compete in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association team championships as Penn-Trafford earned the Class AAA title, and Central Valley won the Class AA title and will vie in the first team championship for Class AA schools.
Penn-Trafford coach Ed Herbst is thrilled that his team not only made the transition from competing against smaller schools but did so successfully against the largest schools in the WPIAL.
"We wanted to come in here and have some fun," said Herbst, who saw senior Haley Borkovich lead the way with an 8-over-par round of 79 on Cedarbrook's Red Course. Three of her teammates -- juniors Rose Bachtel (83), Casey Doran (89) and senior Morgan Rector (87) -- all broke 90, and Mia Barchetti had a 91.
"We'd hoped everyone would play well, and they did," Herbst said. "They all had a blast."
The coach said he had high hopes but was still uncertain until his players returned from their 18-hole excursions.
"We'd heard good things, but I wanted to see it on the board," Herbst said. "Last year, we won the semifinals by 18 [strokes over Central Valley], and then we lost to them by four [in the championship]. I didn't want to take anything for granted."
Borkovich set the pace for Penn-Trafford with her score that led the Class AAA field last Thursday. Central Valley junior standout Macky Fouse led the Class AA field with a 9-over-par round of 80.
"You couldn't ask more from Haley," Herbst said. "There were some times where she wasn't playing well, but she battled through them. We stressed [to her] that adversity makes you stronger. She just had an awesome round."
Herbst loves the fact that the next tournament for his Warriors will be the state one at Heritage Hills Golf Course in York.
"I'm ecstatic about that," he said. "I really wanted everyone to be there, and this is going to be a great thing."
Borkovich will have double duty awaiting her in York. She was among the top finishers on Monday at the PIAA Western Regional individual championships shooting an 83 at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville and will be competing in the two-day PIAA Class AAA individual championships that begin Monday. The one-day team championship takes place on Wednesday.
Borkovich shot a 76 to lead the field at the WPIAL Class AAA sectional individual qualifier. She then experienced the adversity that Herbst referenced when she had a 12-over 84 at the WPIAL individual championships at 3 Lakes Golf Course in Penn Hills.
Many other golfers, however, also had challenging afternoons, and despite that round, Borkovich earned the sixth of seven qualifying spots for the regional qualifier. Thursday's round exemplifies what Herbst was talking about.
"She's had tough times, but she's battled through them," he said.