By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/18/19
The numbers might not have been accurate, but the Conestoga players got the message on their way to a 14-10 District 1 Class AAA quarterfinal victory over Radnor at Teamer Field Saturday morning.
“The coaches told us at halftime to play like (the score) was 0-0,” said senior captain Sydney Sloan, who scored her three goals in the opening half to help the third-seeded Pioneers (16-3) to a 7-6 advantage after the first 25 minutes.
“We knew we had to go out and work just as hard in the second half and not let up.”
Sophomore Rachel Clark, who was held off the scoreboard in the opening half, came up with four second-half goals for Conestoga. The first three all gave the Pioneers two-goal leads, and the fourth, which came with just under four minutes to play, built the home team’s advantage to three goals.
Conestoga earned a ticket to the District 1 semifinals Tuesday gainst second-seeded Garnet Valley (18-2), a 15-8 winner over Downingtown East.
Radnor (15-5), the sixth-seed, will host Downingtown East in a play-back contest Tuesday (4 p.m.). The winner of that game will advance to the PIAA Tournament.
“I’m really not sure who is with us in our bracket and who we play next,” said Pioneers head coach Amy Orcutt. “We’ve been focusing and working so hard getting ready to play this game.
“Everybody we put out there has really been doing what we’ve asked of them. We’ve had to move people around, and some girls are getting more playing time now. And they are coming through.”
Conestoga lost junior midfield standout Cam Evitts, who recently scored her 100th career goal, to a season-ending stress fracture (foot). Saturday, it was Clark (four goals), Sloan (three goals), and Julia Littlewood and Emme Bucher (two goals and one assist each) who carried the load offensively.
One of the keys to victory for the Pioneers was Sloan’s work on draw controls. She earned five of her six in the second half, with Clark getting each of those plays started.
“We know each other well,” Sloan said. “She knows what to expect from me and where I need to be to get the ball.
“We beat Radnor when we played them before, and we knew they would really want to come after us this time. They’re always such a good team and have always been one of our big rivals.”
After Jane Bailey set up Bucher for the goal that gave Conestoga a 12-10 lead with 7½ minutes to play, Sloan earned the draw control and Clark scored four minutes later.
The next draw control also went to Sloan, and Bailey finished the scoring with 2:25 showing on the clock.
“Draw controls are so important,” Clark said. “Because possession is always so important.”
What also was important for the Pioneers was a solid defensive effort that kept Radnor from scoring for the final 8½ minutes. Junior goalie Sam Centofante turned away 11 Radnor shots, including a big stop on Tori DiCarlo with three minutes to play.
She got solid defensive support from Hailey Klinger, Megan Marengo, Annie Nikolic, Alex Aufiero, Carson Snyder, and Sloan.
“The best thing about them is that if a goal is scored on me, we can come together right away, figure out what went wrong, and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Centofante said.
“They just kept working and working. I know everyone understood that if we won this game, we’d be going to states. And going against Radnor got us even more excited about playing here today. We believed we’d know the way they would play because we had played them earlier in the season.”
Julia Rigolizzo got four goals and Ellie Mueller chipped in with a pair of goals and seven draw controls for the Raiders.
“I thought we did a good job in the first half containing Rachel Clark face-guarding her,” Radnor coach Brooke Fritz said. “In the second half, we dropped out of it because she was freeing herself up over the restraining line. She is really hard to stop when she drives from the top.
“We never got momentum after scoring the first three goals. We had a few moments when we really needed to capitalize, and we would follow up with an error instead of a goal. That really killed us.
“Conestoga seemed to capitalize on their caused turnovers more often than not. And their goalie did a great job and their defense was difficult to penetrate. We are a strong offensive team this year, but they really kept us out of (scoring position).”
Conestoga 14, Radnor 10
Radnor 6 4 – 10
Conestoga 7 7 – 14
Radnor: Julia Rigolizzo 4G, Ellie Mueller 2G, Cate Cox 1G 1A, Sarah Nelson 1G, Molly May 1G, Tori DiCarlo 1G.
Conestoga: Rachel Clark 4G, Sydney Sloan 3G, Julia Littlewood 2G 1A, Emme Bucher 2G 1A, Maeve Regan 1G, Liza Bailey 1G, Jane Bailey 1G, Nia Scott 2A.
Goalies – Phoebe Proctor (Rad) 11 saves; Elise Palmer (Rad) 0 saves; Sam Centofante (Con) 11 saves.