By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/30/16
Amy Orcutt decided that dwelling on a disappointing finish in 2015 would not serve the 2016 Conestoga team.
So, after the Pioneers fell to Garnet Valley in the PIAA title game in 2015, Orcutt told her team to move forward, not look back.
“For so long after that (Garnet Valley) game I was thinking, ‘What could I have done differently?'” said Orcutt. “You keep replaying everything in your mind.
“Come the fall. I had a dinner with all seniors and we decided before the season that we were not going to even think about that last game. During the season we did not think about and not a word was said about it by the staff. We just focused on one game at a time and never looked too far ahead so we would not lose sight of what we were really trying to do.”
The strategy worked in 2016.
The Pioneers went 24-1 and capped the season with an 18-7 victory over rival Radnor in the PIAA championship June 10 at West Chester East. Conestoga finished No. 1 in the final Phillylacrosse.com Rankings and in the Top 20 in every national poll. For her team’s accomplishments, Orcutt has been named the Phillylacrosse.com Girls’ Coach of the Year.
“Every game we’d pick a new goal,” said Orcutt. “Maybe one game we wanted to get 60 percent of the draw controls or another we’d have a goal to get 80 percent of the loose balls, or a certain shooting percentage.”
Senior Monica Borzillo, the Phillylacrosse.com Girls’ Co-Player of the Year, said Orcutt and the staff helped keep the Pioneers focused on individual improvement and team play.
“She told us to forget about the championship game from last year,” Borzillo said. “Last year was behind us. We always focused on different things each practice and each game. That got us through the tough games.”
Orcutt gave credit to her assistants, Samantha Murphy, Meaghan McDugall, Alegra Gerhardt and Jaclyn Klunder. She also admitted the team had great talent, but also great senior leadership and camaraderie.
“I think it comes down to senior leadership,” Orcutt said. “We had a lot of really good players and a lot of personalities. You always have a minor bump in the road, but they looked out for each other and worked hard for each other. The seniors made that success happen.
“They all had a role, whether they were on the sidelines or on the field. They were the most unselfish team I ever coached. You can see that from the number of assists and different goal scorers. We had so many weapons and every game someone else would step up.”
The Pioneers went undefeated in the Central League for the second straight year, but were unceremoniously bounced from the District 1 tourney in the quarterfinals by none other than Radnor, 13-10. After that, they won six straight elimination games by a combined margin of 104-38.
They saved their best for last, though, in the state finals as they dominated the Raiders from the start.
“I think everything in the stars were aligned,” said Orcutt. “That day was magical. I told the kids that ‘This should be the favorite day of your life and to remember what it feels to get on that field. This is your championship moment.’
“From the first draw I think they were so dialed in and so focused. I had never seen a team this focused.”
“This was a really good group to be around. Our coaches had so much fun together with them. It was a really great group of girls; even the girls who didn’t get playing time came to practice to make our team better. I think we were able to be laid back but also intense. They’re kids and when they have fun doing something they love with friends every day, they can be successful when the talent is there.”