Tredyffrin – With intermittent rain blowing across Teamer Field Thursday evening, Conestoga and Haverford were locked in a scoreless tie with only eight minutes to go in their second-round PIAA District One 4A playoff contest.
Conestoga junior midfielder Rachel DiRico broke the deadlock, scoring from nearly 40 yards out with 7:28 left to give the Pioneers a 1-0 win.
DiRico said, “I was trying to hit a long ball to Caitlin Donovan on the far post. The ball took a weird bounce, and it went in. I was really happy when it went in because I thought that maybe the game would be going to overtime [if we didn’t score soon].”
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Conestoga girls’ soccer head coach Ben Wilson said, “Rachel has come up with big plays, game-winning goals, all season long. She’s scored in four of our last five games.
With the victory, No. 4 seed Conestoga (14-1-4) advances to the third round to play fifth seed Spring-Ford Saturday. Spring-Ford defeated 21st seed Council Rock North, 3-1, Thursday.
For Haverford (15-4-1), the loss marks the end of a fine season, one in which the Fords advanced to the second round of Districts for the first time under fourth-year head coach Alexandra Hill.
The intermittently rainy conditions made Thursday’s game a low-scoring affair. Both coaches praised the performance of their respective back lines.
Wilson said, “The rain neutralizes the game, particularly for an attacking, possession-based team like ours that moves the ball on the ground. The ball skips, but we realize that we might have to play in the rain anytime. We played against Ridley [Sept. 29] in the rain and won 2-0. I tell the girls that, in the rain, get your whole body behind the ball so it doesn’t skip past you. Our back line of [sophomore defender] Jordan Roe and [senior defender] Dana Cicchitti did a great job tonight.”
Hill said, “Our back line, [senior] Brianna Blair and [senior] Maddie Santoro, did a great job. … And our goalie, [sophomore] Alison Durfee, has only allowed six goals this season, and we’ve recorded 14 shutouts.”
According to Roe, the key to the Pioneers’ defense Thursday evening was communication.
“I thought Dana and I did a good job of communicating and covering for each other tonight,” said Roe. “You really had to watch the ball, not letting it bounce [too much] – sometimes it would skid.”
Haverford, which was the 13th seed and defeated No. 20 seed West Chester Rustin in the first round of Districts Tuesday, 2-1, had played Conestoga earlier in the year (Sept. 27) and lost a narrow 2-1 decision.
Hill said, “I am so proud of my team tonight, and especially the way they fought so hard to the end. It wasn’t like a [typical] 4-13 [seed] match-up. Our players weren’t scared of being underdogs. We’ve come so far in the four years I’ve been here. Last year we lost in the first round, and this was the first time since I’ve been here that we made it to the second round of Districts.”