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Conestoga tops Downingtown East, 7-4, for first District 1 boys’ crown

Friday, 22nd May 2009

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  

By Chris Goldberg, Posted 5/22/09

Austin Rogusky and Matt Smith each scored two goals and Peter Zonino made 10 saves in a standout performance in goal as Conestoga toppled Downingtown East, 7-4, tonight in the District 1 boys’ lacrosse championship game at Villanova University.

The game was historic as it was the first district title game played for boys. This is the first year the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has sanctioned the sport.

The Pioneers (21-1) will face the District 1 seventh-place finisher, Central League rival Garnet Valley, in the first round of the PIAA tourney Tuesday (8 p.m.) at Radnor High.

The Cougars (19-3) will meet a fellow Ches-Mont League foe, District 1 sixth-place finisher West Chester East, at Radnor at 6 p.m.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Conestoga senior co-captain and All-State defenseman Mike Bronzino. “It’s real special to be the first district champs and we just have to go back to work and build on it and get a state championship.”

The game was tied, 3-3, when Rogusky put Conestoga ahead off a feed from Jason Klunder with four minutes, 36 seconds to play in the second quarter. The Pioneers extended their lead to 5-3 early in the second half on a goal by Ryan Lord.

Smith then notched his second goal midway through the quarter after taking a feed from Paul Mita and making a nifty fake on Cougars goalie Matt Normoyle. But Downingtown East did not fold.

Shane Sturgis scored his second goal of the game three minutes into the final quarter to close the gap to 6-4. But Jason Klunder clinched it with 2:56 to play.

“They had a really aggressive defense,” Smith said. “Sometimes they were to aggressive so we could easily run right by them, but they did agreat job on the defensive side.

“We knew we had a lot of young talent this year and it was a matter of working hard and playing together.”

The Cougars had their share of shots, but many missed the mark and junior Zonino was rock-solid.

“Pete’s the MVP today, no question,” said Conestoga coach Brian Samson. “He’s been great all year and today he was the best goalie on the field. He was awesome.”

Said Zonino: “We’re really excited. Coach told us they were second-half team and that they would come out firing in the second half . We knew that coming in and we just countered it and played great.”

Conestoga scored the game’s first two goals as Rogusky drilled one past Normyle off a Klunder pass and then fed Smith for another blast midway through the opening quarter. But Sturgis scored to make it 2-1 before Bronzino went the distance and converted to give Conestoga 3-1 edge.

The Cougars, however, rebounded as Rocco Piliero scored on a man-up drive with only nine seconds let in the quarter and Taylor Nelson tied it off a brilliant clear and feed by Sean Mulqueen.

Conestoga defeated Downingtown East, 8-4, back on March 26 when the teams met the first time.

“It feels great,” Smith said. “This is what it comes down to. We got this and now we’ll go for a state title.”

Added Samson: “Downingtown East is a very good team and they probably played the game they wanted to play in the first half. But i had confidence in our guys that we’d start making plays.We tried to emphasize really coming out in that third quarter and asserting ourselves. We wanted to win that battle in the first five minutes of the third quarter – and they got the job done.”

Conestoga 7, Downingtown East 4

Downingtown East 2-1-0-1 – 4

Conestoga 3-1-2-1 – 7

Downingtown East scoring: Shane Sturgis 2, Rocco Piliero 1, Taylor Nelson 1.

Conestoga scoring: Austin Rogusky 2, Matt Smith 2, Mike Bronzino 1, Ryan Lord 1, Jason Klunder 1.

Saves: Matt Normoyle (DTE) 3; Peter Zonino (Con) 10.

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