Tredyffrin >> A few minutes after Conestoga’s 6-0 win against Owen J. Roberts in the PIAA District One 3A semifinal at Teamer Field Tuesday afternoon, Pioneer head coach Kerry de Vries reflected on her team’s need to keep improving, particularly as it prepares to play top seed Downingtown West (20-0) in the district championship final.
“I don’t think [our] team has peaked at all yet,” said de Vries, whose squad outscored its opponents 107-19 during the regular season. “We played some really good games at mid-season, where I think we had better passing than we did today.
“We need to string better passing combos together. Sometimes in a big game, players can get excited and and might want to go north-and-south, but north-and-south isn’t going to win the big games.”
No. 3 seed Conestoga (18-3), the defending District One champions, will play undefeated Downingtown West in the district championship final Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Methacton High School.
The Pioneers started slowly against Owen J. Roberts Tuesday, holding a 2-0 lead by halftime against the seventh-seeded Wildcats (16-7).
“You know, coming back to coach high school [again] this year, I guess I had forgotten that getting focused for an afternoon game can be a real challenge for these players,” said de Vries. “They have to get to school at 6:45 a.m., then they eat just a small lunch because the cafeteria is packed, and then they have to come out here and suddenly focus on a game at 3 or 4 in the afternoon – that’s a challenge.”
In the first half, Conestoga junior Charlotte de Vries scored twice (the second goal was assisted by senior midfielder Grace McEvoy) to give the hosts a 2-0 halftime lead. The Pioneer junior now has 43 goals scored for the season.
Following halftime, the Pioneers opened up a big lead. Senior forward Emma McGillis scored the first of her two goals six minutes into the second half with an assist from Charlotte de Vries, then McEvoy tallied on a rebound with 16:30 left to make it 4-0.
“I really thought Grace McEvoy was a hard-nosed player both on offense and defense today,” said Coach de Vries. “Emma McGillis was a force on the right side for us, and [senior back] Dani Dittman had a good second half.”
With 6:56 remaining, McGillis scored her second goal of the afternoon with an assist from Kiley Allen, then Allen tallied on a rebound to complete the day’s scoring.
The Pioneers were facing an Owen J. Roberts squad that had defeated No. 10 seed Central Bucks West, 1-0, then edged 15th seed Central Buck South, 2-1, to get to the district semifinals. Tuesday, the Wildcats were outshot, 12-4, and did not get their first corner until 11 1/2 minutes were left.
Owen J. Roberts head coach Amy Hoffman said, “We tried to cut off the lanes to No. 10 [Charlotte de Vries]. After Conestoga went ahead 2-0, I thought we played a little stronger – we had some chances to score in the first half, but then Conestoga took over in the second half. We need to take care of the ball more, play smart defense. In our last two wins, our defense was a little less frantic, and we played with more ball control.”
Conestoga now prepares to play undefeated Downingtown West, who has advanced to its first-ever district final. Earlier this season, the Pioneers lost to the Whippets in overtime, 2-1, Oct. 9, but led at halftime, 1-0. Last fall, Conestoga beat D-West in the district semifinals.
“Today [against Owen J. Roberts] we did not play [as well] as we can play,” said Coach de Vries. “I’d like to see us play an ‘A’ game. We now have three full days to focus on what we need to do to get ready for [the championship final].”
Conestoga 6, Owen J. Roberts 0
Owen J. Roberts 0 0 – 0
Conestoga 2 4 – 6
Conestoga goals: de Vries 2, McGillis 2, McEvoy, Allen.
Goalie saves: Micklesavage (OJR) 4, Showers (CON) 4.
Shots on goal: OJR 4, CON 12.
Defensive saves: Dittman (CON).
Corners: OJR 2, CON 5.
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