Tredyffrin – With the score 0-0 in the waning minutes of Conestoga’s PIAA District One 4A second-round playoff game against Abington Thursday evening, the Pioneers’ perfect record was in jeopardy.
The score was tied 0-0, and No. 1 seed Conestoga was struggling to score in the rainy conditions. Then, with about 10 minutes to play, an Abington shot on goal hit the crossbar.
“If that ball had been a couple of inches lower, it could have gone in, Abington goes up 1-0 and then they lay back and play defense,” said Conestoga head coach David Zimmerman. “That could have been the game right there.”
Just a few minutes later, Conestoga senior forward Mason Miller took matters into his own hands, nailing a scoring shot from about 25 yards out with 6:11 to play that gave the Pioneers a 1-0 win against 17th seed Abington.
To view a photo gallery of the Conestoga-Abington game click here
Conestoga (19-0) advances to the third round of Districts to play eighth seed Central Bucks East Saturday.
Miller described his game-winning goal: “We did a 1-2 touch pass through the middle, [Conestoga senior midfielder] Blaise Milanek split two defenders, and saw me open. When he sent me the ball, I took my shot and saw it go into the lower left corner of the goal.”
Conestoga has played in rainy conditions earlier this season – against Ridley, they won 6-0 Sept. 29 in wet weather – and on Thursday evening, they got acclimated to the wet conditions in the second half, according to Miller.
“The rain made it more difficult to keep the ball on the ground and do our 1-2 touch passing, but I think in the second half, we got [accustomed] to the conditions, and started to play our style more,” said Miller.
Zimmerman said, “In the second half, I think we did a better job of keeping the ball in Abington’s zone. We were playing into the wind in the first half. Blaise Milanek did a great job winning balls for us in the second half.”
Conestoga’s 1-0 win Thursday was its eighth one-goal victory of the season – and three of those victories were by a 1-0 score.
Zimmerman said, “Our back line did a good job tonight. [Junior defender] Mike McCarthy anchored the back line for us, played 80 minutes and was very steady back there. Abington put pressure on us, but we limited their chances.”
For Abington, which had defeated No. 16 seed Downingtown West 2-0 Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s contest, it was a valiant effort by the Ghosts’ defense, and junior goalie Nicholas Brownholtz made a number of nice saves to keep the game scoreless until the waning minutes.
Abington head coach Randy Garber said, “We did a nice job tonight – Conestoga’s a very talented team, and they kept possession. Our whole defense played a good game tonight, and it was unfortunate for us that their one goal was on a great individual effort, where he got a good look at the ball from the center of the park.
“We didn’t get the ball in the offensive third enough tonight, but we’re a young team. I think we’ll [improve] next year.”