By Bradley Schlegel
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/16/15
Tommy Sopko scored with seven seconds remaning in the fourth quarter Saturday to give Conestoga a stunning 9-8 victory over Penncrest in a District 1 quarterfinal at Harriton.
Matt Schleicher and Luke Taicher each scored twice for the 10th-seeded Pioneers (12-9), who advanced to the semifinals Tuesday against Radnor (Henderson, 6 p.m.) and qualified for the PIAA playoffs. John Roulston recorded 13 saves.
“Getting to states means a lot to this team,” said Sopko, a sophomore.
Ryan Kinnard finished with a team-high three goals for the defending state champion Lions (15-5), the second seed and the Central League co-champions. Dan Bullitt contributed two goals and two assists. Penncrest will meet Bishop Shanahan in the first round of the playbacks Tuesday.
Steve Nolan stopped seven shots for Penncrest, which must win consecutive consolation round games to qualify for the state tournament – something it did last year when it won the PIAA crown.
Sopko’s goal came with his teammate serving a 3-minunte penalty. With Conestoga clinging to an 8-7 lead, Steve Hildebrand went to the penalty box after he was discovered to be using an illegal stick with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter.
Colin Speer’s man-up goal forged an 8-8 tie for Penncrest with 2:19 to go. But after a slashing penalty against the team evened the field, Sopko delivered the winning goal for the Pioneers with a hard shot.
Sopko said he had the option to take a shot of feed the ball to a teammate.
“I work on shooting from that spot all the time,” he said. “I had a lane, so I let the shot go.”
Pioneers head coach Brody Bush lauded his team’s defensive performance during the final three minutes.
“Limiting Penncrest to just one goal during that stretch was a tremendous accomplishment,” Bush said. “I’m so proud of how our defense stepped up and kept us in the game even though we committed so many penalties.”
Conestoga 3 2 2 2 — 9
Penncrest 4 0 1 3 — 8
Matt Schleicher 2g
Luke Taicher 2g
Tommy Sopko 1g
Jack Reilly 1g
Steve Hildebrand 1g, 1a
Henry Berg 1g
Jace Kienzle 1g
Brant Pittman 1a
John Roulston 13 saves
Ryan Kinnard 3g
Dan Bullitt 2g 2a
Colin Speer 1g, 1a
Alex Bonnet 1g
Matt Young 1g
Drew Hanna 1a
Steve Nolan 8 saves