By James Boyle
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/4/13
The Conestoga boys’ lacrosse team outscored Avon Grove, 12-1, in a stunning run that carried the Pioneers to a 13-4 victory over the Red Devils today in the PIAA semifinals at Henderson High.
The win vaulted the three-time defending state champion Pioneers (15-10) into the PIAA championship game Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium vs. La Salle at 2:30 p.m.
Conestoga, the fourth-place team from District 1, has advanced to the PIAA finals for the fifth time in the five-year existence of the game. The Pioneers have played the explorers three times, defeating them in 2010 and 2012 while falling to the Explorers in 2009.
Sam Friedman led the Pioneers with three goals while Pierre Atkinson and Jake Scott each scored a pair of goals. Zach Schleicher had a goal and three assists, while Connor Ashton and Alex Mezey each had a goal and two assists.
La Salle was leading North Allegheny, the District 7 runner-up, 9-1 after one half of their game at Cumberland Valley.
Avon Grove, the District 1 champion, finished at 21-4.
Friedman gave the Pioneers their first lead of the day to close out the first half, capping a 3-0 run to end the period.
“We’ve really just been jelling as a team throughout the season,” Friedman said. “Some of our losses have made us come together, I think a little more on offense and really made us focus.”
Ashton connected with Friedman for his third goal to put the Pioneers up by two, 6-4, early in the second half. The Pioneers eventually scored nine straight goals to end the game.
Goalie Rob Zonino (10 saves) was instrumental in keeping his team in the game early, and the majority of his saves came in the first half when the offense was struggling to get possession.
“I definitely felt that in that moment it was kind of my time,” Zonino said. “That being a Senior and a captain I really had to step up and I had to shut these kids down so my offense could get going.”
Avon Grove’s Anthony Cardile was 11 of 20 on faceoffs. But the Red Devils struggled to hold onto the ball in the second half.
“I think we might have gotten the initial possession,” Avon Grove head coach Eric Jackson said. “But they swarmed the ball very well and there’s one thing in the stat book of winning faceoffs and there’s a whole other thing of keeping possession.”
Conestoga dominated possession in the final two quarters by forcing turnovers and picking up key ground balls.
“[Going back to the finals] means the word to us,” Jake Scott said. “We look forward to this every year. This is our goal at the beginning of the season to get to the state championship and we base every practice off getting here.”
Conestoga 13, Avon Grove 4
Sam Friedman 3g
Pierre Atkinson 2g
Jake Scott 2g
Alex Mezey 1g, 2a
Tim Langerhans 1g
Steve Hildebrand 1g
Connor Ashton 1g, 2a
Brendan Bassett 1g
Zack Schleicher 1g, 3a
Chris Brady 1a
Christian Jobs 1a
Robbie Zonino 10 saves
Beau Kush 2g
Matt King 1g
Steven Cyron 1a
Eric Russo 2a
Will Schreiner 6 saves