By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/9/12
HERSHEY – Conestoga completed an impressive hat trick today by downing La Salle, 10-7, for its third straight Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association boys’ lacrosse championship at HersheyPark Stadium.
Tyler Brooke had four goals and Bradlee Lord contributed two goals and four assists while Robbie Zonino was brilliant as the second-half goalie as the Pioneers (23-3) improved their record to a remarkable 96-8 over the past four years.
Conestoga has reached the PIAA title game all four years it’s been played. The Pioneers fell to La Salle, 7-3, in the 2009 finals and then bested the Explorers, 10-6, in 2010. Last year they defeated St. Joseph’s Prep, 13-4, in the title game.
“Our coaches told us don’t worry about the pressure and to just have enthusiasm and take advantage of the opportunity,” said senior long stick midfielder Miles Thomas. “That’s what we did.”
Conestoga fell behind, 2-0, today, but then outscored La Salle, 7-2, over the next three periods of time. Zonino, a junior, was sensational in the third period with five saves, many of them on point-blank shots.
“I’m so overcome with emotion; I don’t know how to feel,” said Pioneer senior defenseman Jamie Ikeda. “I am so excited, but at the same time I want to cry because it’s over.
“We did it as a team.”
La Salle led, 3-1, after Matt Rambo (one goal, three assists) scored early in the second quarter. But Connor Frisina (two goals) made it 3-2 and Brooke scored twice in a row to give his team the lead for the first time.
Adam Schaal tied the game with 1:46 to play, but Jake Scott gave the Pioneers a 5-4 halftime edge on a rebound with 6 seconds left in the second period.
Then in the third quarter, Zonino began making big save after big save as the regular rotation goalie for Brody Shea, who also was solid with five saves. Brooke scored from Lord to make it 6-4 and after Adam Stefanowicz drew the Explorers within 6-5, Lord scored off a Jordan Klunder assist and Frisina made it 8-5.
“Their second half goaltending was a key,” said La Salle coach Bill Leahy. “We made too many errors and a team like that capitalizes with goals.”
Conestoga’s defense of seniors Ikeda and Zach Parro and junior Carson Scott and long poles Thomas and Nick Prestipino (junior) was a key in holding down a La Salle attack that had been dominating in the state playoffs. Thomas, as he has all year, caused several key turnovers on strips and some key turnovers by La Salle led to fastbreak goals.
“It was more about us,” said Ikeda about his team’s defense. “I think we wanted to play our game. We went toe-to-toe with them and I think we executed our game plan pretty well.”
Said Frisina: “It’s definitely a special feeling. It’s great to be a senior here and come out on top.
“We try to block out (the pressure to repeat) out as much as we can. If we work as a team we can accomplish a lot, and that’s what we did today.”
La Salle finished 20-5. The Explorers have been to a state final in four of the past five years; last year they failed to reach the state playoffs.
“Their attack is one of the best in the country and they play very well off each other setting picks,” said La Salle senior defenseman and captain Casey Eidenshink. “Sometimes we didn’t talk through the picks well enough. And they shot well.
“It doesn’t feel good right now, but looking back – coming off of last year when we didn’t even make the state playoffs – I am proud of our guys. We had a great run and proved we deserved to be here.
“We just didn’t come out with the win.”
Conestoga 10, La Salle 7
Conestoga 1-4-3-2- 10
La Salle 2-2-1-2- 7
Tyler Brooke 4g
Brad Lord 2g, 4a
Connor Frisina 2g
Jordan Klunder 1a
Jake Scott 1g
Pierre Atkinson 1g
Brody Shea 5 saves
Robbie Zonino 6 saves
Matt Rambo 1g, 3a
Adam Stefanowicz 2g
Sean Coleman 1g
Stephen Hudak 1g
Adam Schaal 1g, 1a
Brian McNamara 1g
Cory Shaffer 8 saves