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Conestoga stays undefeated, tops North Penn to reach District 1-AAAA final

TREDYFFRIN >> For the first 40 minutes of the PIAA District 1-AAAA boys soccer championship semifinal Wednesday, No. 5 seed North Penn battled undefeated Conestoga to a scoreless draw at Teamer Field.

But it was a different story in the second half. Just 45 seconds into the second half, Conestoga broke the ice with a goal by senior midfielder Blaise Milanek, and followed it up with a tally by senior forward Mason Miller 14 minutes later.

North Penn rallied for a goal by senior defender Noah Kwortnik with 10:06 left, but the visitors could do no more and lost, 2-1. Conestoga advances to the district championship final Saturday.

PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA     North Penn #18 Nate Baxter and Conestoga #99 Mike McCarthy collide in the late minutes of  the first half of their DIstrict 1 PIAA semi-final at Teamer Field Conestoga High School Wednesday evening.

North Penn #18 Nate Baxter (18) and Conestoga Mike McCarthy (99) collide in the late minutes of the first half of their District 1-AAAA semifinal at Teamer Field Conestoga High School on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media).

North Penn head coach Paul Duddy said, “I thought Conestoga had the advantage for the first 10-12 minutes of the first half, then we played them pretty much even the rest of the half. But in the second half, they dominated us.

“We made a mistake on the far side early in the second half (leading to the goal by Milanek), and you can’t make mistakes against a team like Conestoga – that’s why they’re 21-0. Conestoga is very good on set pieces, they defend well and they’re fast. They’re very good everywhere. We have 3-4 pretty dangerous attacking players, and Conestoga did a good job of shutting them down.”

Duddy noted, “In addition to scoring our one goal, Noah Kwortnik played well defensively, and (senior) Mike Kohler had his moments (of standout play) tonight.”

The fact that Conestoga scored in the opening minute of the second half wasn’t by accident.

Conestoga head coach David Zimmerman said, “For the first five minutes of each half, we try to put the pressure on our opponent, try to keep the ball in their territory. When you start a game, players might be a little nervous, the touch might not be there, and mistakes can be made. Those mistakes are amplified if you make them in your own territory, so we try to particularly push the ball (into opposing) territory the first few minutes of a half.

“North Penn is a tough team, and they didn’t give up. When they scored to make it 2-1, I told our wings to get back, and with less than five minutes left, we tried to play in the corners. I thought we did a good job of limiting their chances at the end of the game.”

Conestoga 2, North Penn 1
North Penn     0     1    –    1
Conestoga      0     2     –    2
Conestoga goals: Milanek, Miller.
North Penn goal: Kwortnik.

Top Photo:  North Penn Eric Szilagyi (16) and #24 Jack Johnston (24) handle a header as Conestoga Logan Schwartz (2) and Blaise Milanek (13) watch in the first half of their District 1-AAAA semifinal at Teamer Field Conestoga High School on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

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