By Karen Sangillo
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/4/22
Conestoga senior goalie Alana Lepore knew her team had all the pressure today when the Central League and District 1 champions met league rival Radnor in the PIAA 3A quarterfinals at Harriton.
Especially at halftime when the score was 4-4 and then when it was knotted again in the second half.
“When we were tied, there was a lot of pressure, but my defense played out of their minds,” said Lepore, a senior who will play at Campbell next year. “I give all the credit to them. They played insane.
“We beat Radnor twice this year and we knew it would be hard to beat them a third time, so we didn’t take them lightly, especially because they’re our rival.”
Conestoga stepped up when the situation required it. Now the Pioneers (22-1) play another league foe, Garnet valley, in the semifinals Tuesday at Springfield-Delco at 2 p.m.
Kate Galica netted a goal on the first shot of the second half to give Conestoga a 5-4 lead, but it didn’t last. Amelia Reinholt put one in for Radnor. Galica responded with a goal to make it 6-5 Pioneers with 19:27 to go.
Lauren Goldstein of Radnor received a yellow card for cross checking at 18:53, and Conestoga jumped on the extra-player advantage, netting a pair of goals by Ellie Wisch and Melissa Hewitt. Then Wisch added another at even strength to make it 9-5.
Taylor Murphy scored from the free position for Radnor to close the gap to 9-6, but Chloe Brown put one in for Conestoga to make it 10-6 with 10:13 to go.
That’s when Lepore stood her tallest, making back-to-back huge saves to keep the Raptors from closing in.
Last year, Radnor topped Conestoga in the state semifinals and went on to win the championship.
“We didn’t forget that,” Lepore said. “We didn’t want that to happen again so we played all-out lacrosse. We went after it.
“They really kept it tight but we knew a lot about them so that was really helpful.”
After Lepore made her stand, Kiki Liebezeit scored the final goal of the day for Conestoga.
“We knew they’d come out hard so we knew we had to step up and give it all we had,” said Galica, a junior committed to Virginia. “We knew it wasn’t going to be like the last time we played them. We beat them by a lot, but we knew it wasn’t going to be like that again, and it wasn’t.
“They were matching us goal for goal in the first half, so In the second half we knew what we had to do. We knew we had to give it everything we had and that’s what we did. That’s what pulled us through.”
Radnor got a pair of goals from Sarah Kelley in the final minutes of the game.
It was a tough end for the Raptors, who lost to Conestoga in the semifinals of the District One tourney, 12-4.
“It was tough because we lost to them before and we wanted to we really wanted to come out strong and beat them,” said defender Tellian Schwarz, a senior who will play at Cal Davis next year. “There was so much energy on the bus. We really believed in ourselves.
“We really kept up with them in the first half and that was so exciting. The energy was contagious and it was so tight. Those competitive games are the most fun to play in, those are the ones we’re going to remember forever.
“They pulled away in the second half so it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but I was proud of our effort and energy. I love this team. Everyone is supportive. I wouldn’t have wanted to play with any other group.”
Conestoga is excited to face Garnet Valley in the semifinals.
“I’m so looking forward to that game, and it’s on our graduation day,” Lepore said.
Conestoga 11, Radnor 8
Radnor 4-4- 8
Laura Esgro, 3 goals
Taylor Murphy, 2 goals
Sarah Kelley, 2 goals
Amelia Reinholt, 1 goal
Arden Jansen, 6 saves
Kate Galica, 3 goals, 2 assists
Kiki Liebezeit, 2 goals, 2 assists
Ellie Wisch, 3 goals
Chloe Brown, 2 goals
Melissa Hewitt, 1 goal
Alana Lepore, 5 saves