FRAZER – Entering their District 1 Class 4a Championship battle with top-seeded Conestoga, Council Rock North (15-7-1) had not surrendered a goal in the run of play during four D1 playoff duels, a string that included three overtime periods.
The Pioneers came into the contest having allowed one goal in three D1 battles. On Saturday night (Nov. 4) at Great Valley High School, unbeaten Conestoga (21-0-1) recorded the shutout when it mattered most, outpacing the Indians 2-0 on a pair of goals from senior standout Chris Donovan, a Drexel commit.
Ranked number two in Region III by USA Today, the Pioneers got all the scoring they needed to win just 18:08 into the game when Donovan found a seam and blasted the ball from the top of the box into the right side of the net.
With 9:15 remaining in the first half, Donovan, who scored all seven of his team’s goals in the past three games including the final, took control of a turnover just 20 yards out and slid the ball into the left side of the net, earning ‘Stoga a two-goal cushion.
The Pioneers rode that lead to its first D1 championship since 2011, which ironically, also came at the expense of the Rock.
“I think we played a good game,” said CR North assistant coach Rob Flanagan. “We knew we had to watch out for (number) twelve (Donovan). We had a couple lapses in the beginning of the game; he slipped by.
“Other than that, I think we settled down and got some chances.
“The goalie made a great save there in the second half.”
Before falling in the D1 finale, the Indians enjoyed a fantastic run to the title tilt, pulling off shutout wins over 14th-seeded Upper Dublin, No. 3 North Penn, 11th-seeded Wissahickon and No. 7 CB West, which went to penalty kicks.
The Suburban One National League (SONL) champions at 10-1-1, North needed late-season wins over SONL rival Pennsbury and Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) entry Archbishop Ryan just to get into the D1 tourney.
According to Flanagan, “With a week to go in the season, they were talking about us not even getting into the tournament so …
“These are the first two goals we’ve given up.”
With nary a shot on goal in the first half, however, the Indians struggled, offensively.
With 10:30 remaining in regulation, Council Rock missed out on a chance to score when officials failed to blow a whistle after senior Ryan Pave was taken down in the box.
“It would have been nice to have that; it is what it is,” said Flanagan. “Everybody can see the foul but if the ref doesn’t see it, it doesn’t count.”
The Rock’s best chance to register a goal came with just seven minutes remaining in the contest. That’s when CR North senior Conor O’Donnell got off a blistering shot 11 yards out from the left flank. O’Donnell was robbed however, when Conestoga junior goalkeeper Luke Smith made a fabulous save on the strike.
At the other end of the field, Indians senior netminder Eddie Mancinelli was also doing his best to keep the Rock in the conversation.
Twice in the second half – six minutes after the break and with 8:30 remaining in regulation – Mancinelli completely stoned Donovan on scoring chances for the Pioneers.
“Eddie, Jon Pugh played a nice game, Conor came through for us, Ryan Pave, Sean Finneyfrock – you can put anybody’s name in there,” said Flanagan “I think they all played well.”
From here, the Indians advance to the PIAA Tournament where they will face District 12 runner-up Northeast. The Vikings fell 5-1 in the D12-4A championship to PCL rival LaSalle. The state playoff is set for Tuesday, Nov. 7 on the turf at Truman High School.
NOTES: Saint Benedict’s (Newark, NJ) is the top ranked team in Region III, which comprises Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
DISTRICT 1 CLASS 4A CHAMPIONSHIP
Conestoga 2, Council Rock North 0
(Nov. 4 at Great Valley)
CR NORTH (15-7-1) 0 0 – 0
CONESTOGA (21-0-1) 2 0 – 2
GOALS: C – Chris Donovan, from Julian Niggeman, 19th minute, Donovan, unassisted, 31st minute; CRN – none.
GOALIE SAVES: Eddie Mancinelli (CRN) 5, Luke Smith (C) 3.
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