By Tom Peace
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/23/12
TOWSON, Md. – Conestoga used a stunning six-goal run in the second half tonight to rally past MIAA power Calvert Hall, 11-10, in a game that could vault the Pioneers into the spot as the top-ranked high school boys’ lacrosse team in the nation.
Conestoga senior Bradlee Lord scored his fifth goal of the game with 2:20 to play off a feed from Connor Frisina to cap a comeback for the ages as Conestoga opened its season by toppling the No. 1 team in all three major polls.
The Pioneers, the two-time Pennsylvania state champions, entered play ranked No. 2 by Under Armour and No. 4 by MaxPreps.com. They will benefit in the rankings by a 5-4 loss by Haverford School to Landon School.
The pollsters can have their say, but on this night it was Conestoga that made the biggest statement – after falling behind 10-5 to a team that already was 3-0 and is expected to win the MIAA.
“It’s definitely big, this is the first time we have played Calvert Hall in a long time,” said Lord. “Playing the Maryland teams is always fun; we represented not only Conestoga today, we represented Philadelphia.”
The Cardinals opened the second half with four straight goals to seize the five-goal lead 9:52 into the third quarter. The scoring drive was lead by senior attackmen Ryan Brown (two goals, one assist) and Patrick Kelly (two goals, two assists).
Then with less than five minutes in the quarter senior, Conestoga midfielder Jordan Klunder found junior attackman Tyler Brooke to make it 10-6. The goal seemed to give Conestoga the momentum they needed and they closed out the quarter with another score, this time from Lord.
The Pioneers later pulled even as Brooke tied it, 10-10 with 4:04 left to play. Conestoga’s defense was suffocating down the stretch with key takeaways and groundballs by Jamie Ikeda and Miles Thomas. Junior goalie Robbie Zonino (six saves) had some key stops in the second half.
“We stuck to our game plan and played really hard,” said Ikeda on the defensive pressure down the stretch. “Both teams seemed really exhausted, but we were well conditioned and fought threw it.”
Conestoga coach Brian Samson lauded the defense.
“I give credit to the entire close defense, right after that 10-5 mark those guys really came together,” he said.
Conestoga managed to clear the ball after a Calvert Hall failed to convert with under two minutes left. Frisina found Lord around the crease area and the Maryland-bound attackman punched in the go ahead goal.
“We want to keep getting better and it’s great for our confidence that we can play with a great team like Calvert Hall,” said Samson. “But we want to be here at the end, so we are focused on the end game, we have some great opponents coming up, so enjoy it now and get back to work on Monday.”
Calvert Hall had the advantage at the face-off X where junior Stephen Kelly won 20 of 22 draws. But Ikeda was later sent to the X with his long stick and soon Kelly got somewhat worn down.
Conestoga’s defense took over in the second half, led by long pole Miles Thomas.
“Its hard to win face-offs all game against us,” said Samson. “because you have to face Jamie (Ikeda) or Miles (Thomas), so I think our wings did a good job wearing him down a little bit.”
Said Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly: “They really pressured us hard; we prepared our kids for it, but unfortunately we didn’t handle it well. That was really the difference in the game.”
Calvert Hall hosts Delaware state champion Salesianum on Sunday while Conestoga opens Central League play Tuesday at home and also hosts Malvern Prep next Saturday at noon.
Conestoga 11, Calvert Hall 10
Calvert Hall 5-1-4-0- 10
Conestoga; Goals- Bradlee Lord 5, Tyler Brooke 3, Connor Frisina 1, Adam Goins 1, Nick Reitnour 1. Assists- Connor Frisina 3, Michael McGregor, Alex Mezey, Jamie Ikeda.
Calvert Hall; Goals- Jordan Germerhausen 3, John Belz 2, Ryan Brown 2, Patrick Kelly 2, Stephen Kelly. Assists- Patrick Kelly 2, Thomas Carroll, Ryan Brown, John Belz
Halftime score- 6-5 Calvert Hall.