By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/31/12
Bradlee Lord has quickly become the go-to guy leading Conestoga’s early-season run as the top-rated team in the country.
The senior combination attackman-middie again got the key goal today by scoring with four seconds left to lift the host Pioneers past stubborn Malvern Prep, 6-5.
Conestoga, ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps.com, Under Armour/Inside and LaxMagazine.com and No. 2 by ESPNHS, improved to 4-0 while the tough-luck Friars fell to 1-3.
Lord, signed with Maryland, was the hero last Friday when he tallied five goals, including the game-winner, in the Pioneers’ 11-10 stunner over then-No. 1 Calvert Hall (Md.).
This time, he took the ball with 10 seconds left after the Pioneers had called time out. Coming from behind the net to Matt Barrett’s left, he somehow squeezed in the wrap-around. Barrett, the junior headed to Virginia, had been masterful with 15 saves.
“We kept the cutters high and I saw he (defender) lined up and gave me some room,” said Lord, who had three assists. “Luckily they didn’t slide as fast.”
Malvern Prep had been down, 4-0, in the first half before making a spirited comeback. The Friars’ defense, stocked with Division I recruits, clamped down hard in the second half when the Pioneers got only one goal.
Connor Frisina led the Pioneers with four goals and Tyler Brook added one while Jared Jacobs won 9 of 15 face-offs and Robbie Zonino made nine saves. Joe Dunn had two goals and an assist for the Friars and Tom O’Connor had a goal and an assist.
Conestoga was able to force many first-half turnovers when it seized the 4-0 lead, but Malvern’s defense dominated the second half. Dunn tied the game early in the fourth period off a feed from O’Connor after teammates Graeme Weaver and Jake Glancy had made it 5-4.
“Their defense is so strong, once it’s 6-on-6 it’s difficult to score,” said Lord. “We ride really hard and today it showed with turnovers and goals in the first half.
“In the second half it was sloppier. We weren’t getting lucky with groundballs, but really Malvern Prep played a heck of a game.”
Lord said it’s thrilling to play as a No. 1 team. It’s also difficult to face new defenses prepared specially for his team.
“It’s a good feeling and a bad feeling,” he said the of national exposure and ranking. “We’ve always wanted to be No. 1, but that comes with a struggle. People put different plays on you.
“We were used to always gunning for other people. We just have to stick with our game plan. We’re loving it, but we were lucky to escape with a win today.”
Added Conestoga coach Brian Samson, “It’s great to win close games. Malvern had a run in them and the game could have gone either way.
“We were lucky to have the ball at the end and what you saw is Brad Lord taking the team on his back. Everyone in the stands knew he was going to get the ball. They slide great all day. It was inches of a window and that was a dagger – it was quote an effort.”
Malvern Prep coach Dave Metzbower said his team can only get better from the early-season losses to quality teams as it prepares for the rigors of the Inter-Ac League. He credited the defense led by Eddie Morris, Jack Sheridan, Chad Rafferty and Jared Horoski and long poles Greg Pelton and Kevin Samolsky.
“We threw the ball away a lot in the first half,” Metzbower said. “We didn’t do much to get ready for their three-quarters field ride and I feel we’ll learn from mistakes and get ready for the Inter-Ac season.
“We played much better in the second half; we rode harder and fought for groundballs more and dug down and tried to do all the little things. Thank God for Barret and the defense and they kept us in the game.”
Conestoga 6, Malvern Prep 5
Conestoga 2-2-1-1- 6
Malvern Prep 0-2-2-1 – 5
Brad Lord 1g, 3a
Connor Frisina 4g
Tyler Brooke 1g
Robbie Zonino 9 saves
Jared Jacobs 9 of 15 FO
Tom O’Connor 1g, 1a
Joe Dunn 2g, 1a
Joe Klinges 1a
Jake Glancy 1g
Graeme Weaver 1g
Matt Barrett 15 saves