Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/21/13
Eric Russo scored with 1:04 to play to give Avon Grove a 6-5 win over Conestoga Tuesday at Radnor, advancing the Red Devils into their first District 1 boys’ lacrosse final in school history.
The Red Devils (18-3), the tourney’s 10th seed, ended Conestoga’s four-year grip on the title and will face Garnet Valley in the championship Thursday at Henderson at 6:30 p.m. Garnet Valley advanced with a 7-6 overtime win over Radnor. Conestoga plays radnor in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m. at Henderson.
How the Red Devils got there, though, was unlike anything they’ve seen all postseason. Red-hot Tanner Peck, who came in with 11 goals and five assists in his first three games of the playoffs, was shadowed all day by the Pioneers’ Nick Prestipino. Prestipino held Peck to two assists and barely allowed him any clean shots at the net, so Avon Grove turned elsewhere.
Freshman Beau Kush fired home a hat trick, but it was someone else who had the chance to be the hero. Held off the scoresheet all game, Eric Russo came around the net and snapped a shot past Robbie Zonino (eight saves) for the game-winning goal.
“Matt King went down and I figured I had to step up,” Russo said. “I just saw a bunch of people cutting, looked for a cutter and I didn’t see anybody open, so I just beat my man left and nobody slid. (Zonino) opened up his legs and I just shot right through them.”
Initially, few reacted to Russo’s goal, leading some to wonder if it went in. But Russo knew and he turned around to be greeted by a group of teammates rushing over to mob him.
“Everybody was in shock, I think,” Russo said. “Because we beat Conestoga. It’s Conestoga! It’s great. It hasn’t kicked in all the way yet, but right now, it’s fantastic.”
The winning goal was set up when Nick Cardile’s perfectly-executed double team caused a turnover by Chris Brady.
“I was going right for the stick,” Cardile said. “I saw him turn around and (I thought), ‘I’m going straight for it.’”
The Pioneers’ loss spoiled a phenomenal effort from junior attackman Jake Scott (four goals). Scott was a man possessed for Conestoga, scoring a behind-the-back goal to get the party started and later adding another BTB tally to knot the game at 5 with 2:04 to go.
“We just have to take it as a loss and keep going forward,” Scott said. “We still have a chance. It sucks, but we’ve got to just keep playing hard. We just hate losing and we want to get back at it and get another shot at it.”
Scott attributed the Pioneers’ loss to a sloppy second half in which Conestoga was outscored, 4-1, and didn’t look like its usual sharp, crisp self.
“We just weren’t really taking care of the ball,” Scott said. “We didn’t come out in the second half like we did in the first half, so it kind of just bit us in the end.”
Avon Grove 6, Conestoga 5
Avon Grove 0 2 0 4 – 6
Conestoga 2 2 0 1 – 5
Jake Scott 4g
Zach Schleicher 1g, 1a
Matt Schleicher 1a
Pierre Atkinson 1a
Chris Brady 1a
Robbie Zonino 8 saves
Beau Kush 3g
Eric Russo 1g GWG with 1:04 to go
Matt King 1g, 2a
Stephen Cyron 1g
Ryan Cook 1a
Tanner Peck 2a
Will Schreiner 10 saves