By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/3/17
Regan Nealon estimated that the scene had played itself out in the Nealon backyard, “probably a million” times.
Once at West Chester East was all Garnet Valley needed today.
After the Jaguars’ attempts at a last-second goal went awry at the end of regulation and again in the first overtime, Nealon found open space and jumped for a pass from her twin sister, Kara. One quick flick of the wrists later, Garnet Valley secured an 11-10 double overtime win over defending state champion Conestoga in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals Saturday.
The Jaguars will take on Archbishop Carroll, who rolled past Owen J. Roberts, 15-5, Tuesday at Henderson at 2 p.m.
“It was such a great feeling for it to be from Kara. It was amazing,” Nealon said after her first varsity golden goal. “We just wanted to beat ‘Stoga so bad, so to beat them is good, too. It’s just the perfect scenario, getting it from Kara and beating ‘Stoga.”
Conestoga, the Central League and District 1 champion, finishes at 21-3. The Jaguars are 16-7.
Garnet Valley’s Kam McNeal tied the game with 90 seconds to go, then nearly ended when time expired in regulation. Her shot hit the post, came back out and rolled in the net, seemingly a split-second before the buzzer expired. However, officials ruled that time had expired beforehand. The Jaguars’ Beth Hoffman won the first overtime draw control, but after stalling until the 30-second mark, Garnet Valley’s shot missed the net.
In the second frame, though, Garnet Valley got the ball and planned to wait it out again, but Conestoga pressed out further. That gave the Nealons room to operate and iced the Pioneers’ season.
“We were waiting for the last 25 seconds like the end of the game and the other overtime,” Nealon explained. “They started pressing out more and we knew that we had to start going, and when Kara had the ball down (by goal-line extended), I figured I’d cut and catch them off-guard because they thought I was just standing there. Kara saw me and I quick-sticked it in.”
The Jaguars stormed out to a 6-3 lead in the first half, capped by Riley Delaney (three goals) scoring with 15 seconds left in the frame. Conestoga quickly erased that with a 6-1 run that pushed its lead to 10-8 when Scottie Rose Growney set up fellow All-American Liz Scott for her third goal of the game. It looked like the Pioneers might run away with it then, but Garnet Valley buckled down.
“I think we all kind of thought we had it,” said Growney, who finished with a goal and three assists. “It was kind of one of those things where you have it and it falls right out of your hands. That’s what makes it worse, that we worked really hard to get that lead, and then in just a few short minutes, it gets taken away. It’s heartbreaking.”
The Jaguars wouldn’t have had the chance to continue their trek for a fifth state championship without the play of goalie Lauren Kinnee. Kinnee stopped 10 shots, none more important than a point-blank denial of Scott with 1:15 to play in regulation. At this time of year, the importance of great goaltending is higher than ever, and Kinnee was up to the task.
“I don’t know, it’s just so crazy,” Kinnee said. “You just have to focus on the ball and know that you’re going to make the save, because if you’re not confident, you’re not going to make it. I usually think (Scott) is going to shoot high, so it’s just being ready to go.”
Now, Garnet Valley’s ready to go to the semifinals.
Conestoga 3 7 0 0 – 10
Liz Scott 3g, 2a
Amelia Kienzle 3g
Cameron Evitts 2g, 1a
Scottie Rose Growney 1g, 3a
Nia Scott 1g
Anne Frascella 5 saves
Garnet Valley 6 4 0 1 – 11
Kam McNeal 3g
Riley Delaney 3g
Regan Nealon 2g, double OT winner
Madi McKee 2g
Cam Faith 1g, 1a
Kara Nealon 3a
Madi O’Brien 1a
Lauren Kinnee 10 saves