West Goshen >> Minutes after Conestoga defeated Springfield 12-8 in the District 1 3A championship final at West Chester East Thursday, the Pioneers reflected on the meaning of winning their first District 1 girls’ lacrosse championship since 2006.
Conestoga senior midfielder and co-captain Liz Scott said, “This means so much – we haven’t even been to the district semifinals since 2012, before any of us seniors were here. We worked so hard all year, and worked smart all year, to get here. We were really prepared and confident coming into this game, and when we finished our pre-game warm-ups, we came out swinging.”
The Pioneers delivered a big punch early, scoring the game’s first six goals and building a 9-2 halftime lead, based on a sharpshooting offense (9-for-14 in shots on goal in the first half) and a defense that resembled a brick wall.
“Our defense was unbelievable,” said senior attack and co-captain Scottie Rose Growney. “They’ve been practicing so hard [the past week], and Anne [senior goalie Anne Frascella] is so solid back there.”
“Our defense was outstanding in the first half,” said Conestoga head coach Amy Orcutt. “[Senior] Lindsay Erickson did such a solid job of communicating with all of the people that made up our defense.”
Erickson said, “Our defense works so well together, particularly with Annie behind us, telling us where to go. … We push each other to play our best.”
Scott also contributed to the Pioneers’ defense, causing some key Springfield turnovers.
“I was reading the ball well, and getting my stick in there,” said Scott. “We really had a solid back defense today, particularly in the first half.”
After Conestoga gave up a couple of goals midway through the first half to make the score 6-2, the Pioneers buckled down and did not allow another Springfield goal for 15 minutes, building a 10-2 lead with 19 minutes left.
Frascella, who recorded eight saves against Springfield, said, “It’s great to play behind such great defenders like we have – it helps me be confident. We played as a unit – in sync – today. Our hard work paid off – we did it together.”
By halftime, both junior midfielder Ceara Sweeney and senior attack Dana Cicchitti had a hat trick.
Cicchitti said, “Everyone on this team was extremely positive the whole game, from our attack to our midfield to our defense to our goalie to our bench. I’m extremely happy and proud to be a senior leader on this team.”
Growney, who scored one of the Pioneers’ first-half goals and won some key draw controls, said, “Just hearing our players on the sideline cheering so loudly for us the whole game meant so much. They were just as much a part of our championship win.”
Conestoga’s positive attitude faced a tough test when Springfield scored five goals in a row in an eight-minute stretch in the second half to cut the Pioneers’ lead to 10-7 with 10:01 left. At that point, Conestoga called time out and Orcutt briefly spoke to her troops.
Growney said, “[Orcutt] told us, ‘Don’t give up, this is what we worked for.’ She had mentioned to us at halftime to expect a big comeback effort from Springfield.”
Cicchitti said, “Amy pulled us in, and we had what we call a ‘Mindful Minute,’ in which we take a huge deep breath and then visualize what we want to do.”
After the Conestoga timeout, neither team scored for the next six minutes. With 3:54, Sweeney gathered in a loose ball and fired in her fourth goal of the game to give Conestoga an 11-7 lead.
Just 19 seconds later, Cicchitti scored her fourth goal of the game as well and the Pioneers had a 12-7 lead with only 3:35 left.
“Scoring that last goal felt so good,” said Cicchitti. “I think a lot of us felt that we had the game at that point, and right after I scored, Liz came over to me, hugged me, and said, ‘Great job.’”
Scott said, “Our seniors have done a great job of leading the team this season.”
Conestoga now will face West Chester Rustin, the No. 7 seed in District 1, in the opening round of the PIAA 3A state tournament.
Growney said, “This has been a crazy season, and I’m proud to be part of this amazing team. It’s like we’re starting to mesh to perfection.”
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