By Harry Chaykun
Amelia Kienzle didn’t start all of Conestoga’s games during the Pioneers’ state championship season last spring.
Scottie Rose Growney couldn’t play for the Pioneers in 2016 while she recovered from knee surgery.
The pair shook off a disappointing first half Wednesday afternoon and helped the defending Central League and PIAA champions open league play with a 14-10 decision over host Springfield-Delco at Halderman Field.
Kienzle tallied three goals in the second half while Growney got her two goals and two of her three assists after the break as Conestoga (2-0, 1-0) rallied from a 6-3 deficit by outscoring the Cougars (1-1, 0-1) after intermission, 11-4.
With starting goalie Julianne Clemens sidelined with an injury, Springfield had to go with freshman Dana Mirigliano in goal. She gave way to Aidan Gallagher, another ninth grader, late in the second half.
The Pioneers scored the first five goals of the second half and seven of the first eight, with Growney’s first tally giving them the lead for the first time with 17:50 to play. Kienzle’s first goal came a little over a minute later.
“We’re young, and we still have a lot to learn,” Conestoga coach Amy Orcutt said. “We have talent, but it will take a while to put everything together. I’m calling plays and some of them are still looking at me and wondering what it means.
“Springfield did a nice job pressuring the ball in the first half. In the second half, we did a better job of getting the ball in their end (of the field).”
Olivia Little (three goals, one assist) and Bridget Whitaker both scored twice in the first half for Springfield, which led 3-0 before Julia Littlewood broke through for ’Stoga 13 minutes into the game.
Maddie Wood got two of her three goals and Growney scored twice and set up a Liz Scott goal as the Pioneers gained a two-goal advantage with 12 minutes left. Goalie Anne Frascella made six of her 10 saves in the second half for Conestoga.
“Our midfield transitions weren’t working in the first half,” said Kienzle, a junior who has committed to the University of Delaware. “When we took the (halftime) break, we re-energized ourselves and came out and had a better second half.
“We have to realize that we have to come out for every game thinking about how winning it can help us win another championship.”
Growney didn’t try to hide the smile on her face that told how delighted she was to be able to play again.
“I couldn’t be happier,” the University of North Carolina signee said. “I’ve played this game for so long, and it was very hard to have it taken away last year.
“Actually, not being able to play then gave me time to see the game from a different perspective. I saw how (2016 seniors) Monica (Borzillo) and Sondra (Dickey) did things. And I got really focused on working hard last summer. I wanted to get stronger and work on my stick work.”
Growney admitted that she wasn’t pleased with the first-half performance the Pioneers turned in against the Cougars.
“That wasn’t the way we wanted to start this game,” she said. “They had a freshman (Alyssa Long) face-guarding me. She’s going to North Carolina, too.
“I’m just glad we played better in the second half. Now we have to get ready to play Harriton (Thursday). And we have our game against Radnor next week.”
Scott helped ’Stoga to a 18-8 advantage in draw controls by claiming the ball on 11 draws.
“It’s so nice to be out there and see (Growney) playing again,” Scott said.
Conestoga 14, Springfield-Delco 10
Conestoga 3 11 – 14
Springfield-Delco 6 4 – 10
Amelia Kienzle 5G
Maddi Wood 3G
Scottie Rose Growney 2G 3A
Liz Scott 2G 2A, 11 DC
Julie Littlewood 1G
Sydney Sloan 1G
Cameron Evitts 1A
Anne Frascella 10 saves
Olivia Little 3G 1A,
Bailey O’Brien 2G 2A
Maggie O’Connell 2G 1A
Bridget Whitaker 2G
Isabelle Mastropietro 1G
Dana Mirigliano 2 saves
Aidan Gallagher 2 saves