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After much delay, Radnor finally gets started

Conestoga forward Charlotte deVries, left, fires a shot past Radnor's Brigid Lowry in the second half at Radnor's Encke Field Thursday. DeVries had both of the Pioneers' goals in their 2-1 victory over the Raiders. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

RADNOR — Katie Maguire did not have a good feeling when she looked outside and saw an overcast sky Thursday morning. The last thing her Radnor field hockey team needed was another postponement.

The Raiders already had their first three games affected by the weather. The season opener against Upper Perkiomen was rained out and games against Merion Mercy and Ridley were postponed by last week’s intense heat.

“I was worried,” Maguire said.

Her concerns turned out to be premature. The weather cooperated as the rain held off, so Radnor was finally able to open its season, albeit nearly two weeks later than originally scheduled.

Conestoga’s Sarah Rogalski, left, battles Radnor’s Genevieve Mehra for control of the ball in the first half of their field hockey match Thursday. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

The result, a 2-1 loss to defending Central League champ and neighborhood rival Conestoga at Encke Field, wasn’t what Maguire and the Raiders wanted, either, but at least they finally played a game.

“These girls have been itching to play for two weeks now,” Maguire said. “It’s a tough game to open with. When we played them last year it was 2-1. It’s always a good game. It’s always a battle. If we had gotten one (game) in I could have guaranteed a win. This was a test of their mental ability and how tough they are. They brought it, but it didn’t end the way we wanted it to end.”

Charlotte deVries had a little something to do with that. The senior showed why she is one of the premier players in the area. DeVries scored twice on corners, both off passes from Maia Dechairo to stake the Pioneers (2-1 overall, 2-0 Central League) to a 2-0 halftime lead.

It took deVries a little while to get the Pioneers on the board. Radnor’s defense had a lot to do with that. Everywhere deVries went she was surrounded by several Raiders.

“That was the plan,” Radnor defender Olivia DeCain said. “She’s an amazing player. Her skills are amazing and her shot is the fastest thing I’ve ever seen. All the defenders were working to shut her down. That was our goal because she’s such a great player.”

DeVries managed to break free on several occasions despite the constant attention. She came close to scoring when she hit the post off a corner 13 minutes into the game and finally broke the scoreless deadlock with 14:53 to play in the first half. DeVries and Dechairo teamed up again with 2:43 remaining in the opening half. Both passes were perfect, which allowed deVries to perfectly execute her simple approach to corners.

“I try not to think about it too much,” deVries said. “If I stress out about how I’m going to receive it or something like that I end up missing it, so I pretend I’m practicing and doing a normal shot and then I usually get it off. And I try to swing through it even if I think they’re going to get it.”

Radnor’s defense tried, but could not get to deVries on those two occasions and that was more than enough offense to hold on for the win, thanks to a stellar effort from the Pioneers defense. Conesotoga only gave up two shots on goal and just three penalty corners.

“We were a lot more disciplined than we were against Downington West,” Conestoga coach Jaja Kentwll said. “That’s an area we’re always trying to improve because you have to build your team from the back. … The back line is the rock of the team, trying to possess the ball and make easy decisions.”

Radnor sophomore Madison Milhous got behind the Conestoga defense on a corner and found the back of the cage to cut the deficit in half. Brigid Lowry sent a perfect pass across the middle. Milhous was in the right place to tip it home to get the Raiders within 2-1.

That’s where it ended though as the Raiders could not muster any more offense in their long-awaited season opener.

“If we had one more game in us I think it would have made a world of difference,” Maguire said. “You can only intra-squad scrimmage so much. You need that other team around to get better.”

The Raiders will get better. DeCain is sure of it.

“We have to clean up below the 25,” DeCain said. “They kept getting corners below the 25 because of stupid mistakes by the defense. We have to connect better with the midfield and the forwards. Once we do that we’ll be unstoppable.  It will be so great to watch and so great to be a part of.”

In other Central League action:

Penncrest 3, Ridley 2 >> Bella Sabato tallied the winner in overtime as the Lions rallied to beat the Green Raiders.

Gia Lamber and Meghan Lynch scored to give Ridley a 2-1 halftime lead. Margaret Howe-Consiglio scored her second goal of the game in the second half to send the game into overtime. Howe-Consiglio converted a pass from Sabato to get the Lions on the board in the first half.

Audrey Basset made four saves in goal for Penncrest. Megan Frame stopped nine shots for Ridley.

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