Conestoga Youth Lacrosse (CYL) defeated West Chester, 6-3, for its third straight U15 Chester County Lacrosse Association boys’ championship at the United StatesSports Training Center in Downingtown Tuesday night.
The teams have met in the finals three straight years. “This rivalry goes back over the last nine years when my oldest boy, now 17 played CYL, said Pete Zonino the defensive and goalie coach for Conestoga’s team. “These are always great games.”
The game lived up to its history as Conestoga came out strong and controlled the ball from the first faceoff. “We were getting the shots but just couldn’t finish, we looked a little rushed,” said Peter Scott, offensive coach for CYL.
Eight minutes into the first quarter Joey Carlini made a quick dodge to the cage and put one home for the only goal of the first quarter.
The second quarter was highlighted by back-and-forth play with neither side getting much of an advantage until West Chester was given a man-up opportunity and converted to tie it 1-1. West Chester came out strong and pushed consistently into the Conestoga end of the field only to be thwarted by a tough CYL defense led by Nick Prestopino, Nick Mead and long stick middie Timmy Langerhans.
Midway through the quarter midfielder Pierre Atkinson stripped a West Chester player of the ball in the defensive end of the field and streaked up field, outrunning his opponents and then scoring off a nice dodge to make it 2-1 heading into halftime.
Jake Scott opened the scoring for Conestoga in the third quarter, taking a nice feed from Joey Carlini. Conestoga went into high gear and defensively put the wraps on a West Chester team that had numerous man-up opportunities, but could not convert.
“We had a pretty experienced group in there tonight, our goalie Robbie Zonino and d-poles Carson Scott and Nick Reitnour were on our championship team from last year,” said coach Zonino. “I knew they’d get it done.”
Conestoga opened the fourth quarter strong when Jason Clough took a feed from Scott (2g, 1a) and snapped off a left-handed shot that beat the keeper to make it 4-1. Almost off the faceoff Conestoga was at it again as Carlini (1g, 2a) hit Tommie O’Connor on a nifty cut to put Conestoga up 5-1 with seven minutes to go.
West Chester refused to quit and after a Conestoga penalty scored to make it 5-2. A minute later it scored again with little over three minutes to play. But Conestoga midfielder Greg Bacci won the clutch draw.
“Bacci is one of those throw-back players, he wins face-offs, gets groundballs, he’s on our man-up and man-down teams, he scores goals and plays great D, he does it all,” said Conestoga head coach Russ Atkinson. “We couldn’t have done it without him.
Conestoga won the ensuing faceoff and Scott took advantage of a pressing West Chester defense and found himself one-on-one with the goalie before notching the clinching goal with two minutes left.
“We’ve played West Chester the last three years in this championship. They are a determined opponent,” said Atkinson. “My hat goes off to Tom Dunn and all the boys at West Chester. This is a great rivalry.”